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For Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, life is attack, attack, attack

In the mid-1970s, Malcolm Turnbull, then 21, told future radio broadcaster David Dale that he wanted to be Prime Minister by the time he was 40.

“For which party?” asked Dale.

“It doesn’t matter,” responded Malcolm.

And therein lies the real problem with Turnbull. He isn’t in the job because of a driving passion for public service. He has no lofty ideals about how to take the country forward. He just views it as his rightful destiny, a natural recognition of his superiority.

An accomplished debater and successful lawyer, Turnbull doesn’t much care what side he is on as long as it is the winning side and he will do whatever it takes to get there.

Former Labor senator Jim McClelland described Turnbull as “a turd”.

“He’s easy to loathe, he’s a shit, he’d devour anyone for breakfast, he’s on the make, he’s cynical, he’s offensively smug. He’s a good exploiter of publicity.”

In a 1991 article in the Good Weekend, John Lyons wrote of the then 36 year old merchant banker that his language said it all: he talks about “retaliation”, how he is at “war”, how certain fights are only “skirmishes”, a smaller part of the bigger “battle”.

It details Turnbull’s fiercely aggressive approach in both the legal and business world.

Armed with an awesome, carefully cultivated network of contacts, Turnbull roams the corporate landscape, a hired gun after the main chance.

Inconsistencies abound with Turnbull.

Turnbull is tantalising; part of the contradiction is that while he protests that he is a champion of freedom of speech – he cites his victory over the British Government when he successfully secured the right of former spy Peter Wright to publish his memoirs, Spycatcher – some business people fear him for what they say are his threats to sue them if they speak about him. Packer once quipped to a friend that Turnbull frightened even him. (He told the same person he would never stand between Turnbull and a bag of money.)

In the marriage equality debate, Turnbull says religious freedom must be protected but that certainly wasn’t his attitude when he was the one being discriminated against.

When he was studying law at Oxford, he and Lucy, who were living together at the time, decided they wanted to get married but were told by the Anglican vicar they approached that Lucy, as a Catholic, and he, as a Presbyterian, were not part of his flock. “Your petty sectarian approach is unconstitutional,” Turnbull retorted. “The Church of England is the religion of the State. You are a servant of the Crown, not materially different from an ambassador or an admiral. It is your constitutional duty to prevent fornication in your parish.”

[As an aside, in those days, Rhodes scholarships could not be awarded to people who were married, reportedly one of the reasons that Tony Abbott abandoned his pregnant girlfriend. It would also be interesting to know what sporting prowess Malcolm claimed to help win his Rhodes scholarship.]

As Lyons points out in his 1991 article, “Tumbull is a legal street-fighter, someone who revels in taking on the hard cases, preferably also those which are going to involve big exposure. For Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, life is attack, attack, attack.”


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  1. Jack

    He has more in common with Rudd than any other PM we’ve had. In it for themselves.
    In his defense, he is actually closer to the ‘centre’ of politics than any other recent PM we’ve ever had too, but by doing that he has foolishly thought that he will get enough left votes to keep him there.
    Not only is he wrong about this, voters on the far right want nothing to do with him either.
    It won’t end well

  2. Glenn Barry

    Beside Turnbull’s rampant ambition his utter lack of any self awareness whatsoever is the primary danger to the Australian public – his current willingness to plunge us into a war with North Korea is a real and present danger…

  3. Chris2017

    There is no defence for his behaviour. The content of this piece squares with my experience of him and reports by others. Jim McClelland gave turds a bad name with his comment and I smile wryly at those who refer to our beloved PM as “turdball.”

  4. Jaquix

    I have nothing but contempt for Turnbull.

  5. Klaus Petrat

    Turnbull is an incredible psychopath with interest only in remaining PM. He is characterless, spineless as evidenced by his cowering in front of Barnaby, Tony, Peter Dutton etc…. Yes, primarily Turnbull is an angry coward.

    He is destructive as evidenced by the destruction of a world class NBN, the ruthless torture of defenseless people, the dismanteling of a prospering energy policy

    A shit, time runs out… There is more, so much more.

  6. Kronomex

    The only thing Malcolm Turdbull champions is what Malcolm Turdbull can get for Malcolm Turdbull. He, to my mind, is our answer to The Donald.

  7. Regional Elder

    Turnbull turns American President, John F. Kennedy’s much quoted phrase, at his inauguration, on its head.

    The mantra Turnbull lives by is more like :

    ' Ask not what you can do for your country, but rather, ask what your country can do for you. '

    In a different but equally objectionable way to that of the narcissistic compulsively negative Abbott, gaining the Prime Ministership for Turnbull, is really just all about him.

    As the richest Prime Minister we have ever had, he demonstrates no political vision to improve the lives of the greater majority of citizens in this country, the exception to this being of course, the wealthiest one per cent.

  8. Jack

    Kronomex, that’s too harsh on the Donald! At least Trumpy had ideas for his country(good, bad, lets leave that alone). Trumbull had ‘Jobs and Growth’. How vague, uninspiring and non-commital is that

  9. Max Gross

    Jim McClelland was spot on!

  10. Barry Thompson.

    Kaye, if Diamond Jim said that, it would be correct.
    Turnbull and his henchmen criticize Shorten for his career prior to entering Parliament, but Turnbull’s own prior history reveals him to be a man of questionable integrity.

  11. Kaye Lee


    The Good Weekend article has some good examples. For instance….

    Turnbull and Neville Wran’s cleaning company, Allcorp, lost in a tender a contract to a competitor, Tempo, to clean a State Bank building. Three days before Tempo was to begin the contract, a State Bank officer rang a Tempo executive: Tempo no longer had the contract, Allcorp would be retaining it, even though Tempo consultant James Cook claimed it had bid up to $70,000 a year less than AIlcorp. (“Odd things happen,” says Tumbull, “but whether that’s odd or strange I don’t know.”)

    On McClelland, Turnbull’s response was “I’m very sorry that many years of excessive consumption of alcohol and professional disappointment have reduced what was once a sharp wit into nothing better than gutter abuse. He’s a bitter old man.”

  12. Kyran

    Turnbull interviewed abbott back in the 70’s. Having been unable to find the link I sought, I came across this one.
    Of Turnbull;
    “While he would eventually adopt a pseudonym, the Officious Bystander, his column originally ran under his own name.”
    Oh, the irony. He went from ‘himself’, to ‘the Officious Bystander’. It sort of sums up his political career. Once himself, now just an officious bystander.
    In 1977;
    “In the June 4 issue, Turnbull writes on then-NSW premier Neville Wran’s media strategies. There was a belief at the time, Turnbull writes, that Gough Whitlam’s failures had been due to his being too open with the media. Wran attempts to learn from this, Turnbull writes, though his early efforts hadn’t been all that successful.”
    Oh, the irony. Turnbull thought Mr Whitlam’s fault was that he was too open with the media. Whilst turnbull used such an ideal to wrest the leadership from abbott (open, transparent government), he has delivered none of it.
    Also in 1977;
    “Here he is signalling his appreciation for a particularly scathing book review on June 25, 1977:
    “There’s nothing the matter with being vicious. In fact there is not nearly enough venom and malice in this meek, pussy-footing society of ours. Lawyers are generally the most at fault. Take Swineface, QC, when he is appearing against his arch foe Wyning-Smythe, QC: ‘As my learned friend would be aware …’ What humbug! He knows full well that his cretinous friend drank his way through law school and would have starved to death if his father hadn’t been the senior partner of a monstrous firm of solicitors.””
    Oh, the irony. Whilst he once espoused vicious, venomous, malicious activity, he is now the epitome of a ‘pussy-footer’. Ah well, unlike his American doppelganger, he doesn’t grab them.
    And, in 1978;
    “Turnbull would continue to write for the magazine for much of 1978, including his fantastic AUS feature, but his contributions had waned by the end. In his “The Law with Malcolm Turnbull” column of August 15 he reveals why.
    “I am departing this fair land for studies at Oxford courtesy of Cecil Rhodes and, it being hard enough to get a good oil when you’re three blocks from the Supreme Court, it is doubtless impossible when the intervening gap stretches to a couple of continents …” “

    What did 23-year-old Malcolm make of 20-year-old Tony?

    Oh, the irony. How many Australian’s wish he would again depart this fair land. And take his ‘baggage handler’, abbott, with him. Turnbull’s article on abbott is included in the link. As are references to ‘cronies’, like Xenophon and Costello, if you can handle more irony.
    Thankyou Ms Lee and commenters. As always, apologies for the rant. Take care

  13. Harquebus

    Unuvagoodwun Kaye Lee

    As long as Malcolm Turnbull is getting more than his fair share of everything, he is happy and it is our place to be happy for him.
    Now take a pay cut and get back to work. Someone has to pay for all of his happiness.

    I agree with all comments here so far.

  14. Terry2

    In Turnbull’s mind he is entitled to the Prime Ministership, after all he paid $1.75 million for it and he sees it as his due.

    These people live in a different world to the rest of us.

  15. Kaye Lee

    In response to a Victorian Minister who has cancelled the wedding of a heterosexual couple who have been part of his congregation for ten years because the bride to be showed support for marriage equality on Facebook, Turnbull said “Churches are entitled to marry or not marry whom they please. That is part of religious freedom.” Unless it’s me of course in which case they will do as they are told!

  16. Jagger

    So true Kaye, what a loathsome hypocrite Turdball is, one word from John Howard and macho Mal starts screaming the churches will be protected from the gays, disgusting pair the both of them.

  17. Joseph Carli

    Turnbull is a ponce..a weedy little piss-ant ponce..I have worked for dozens of them in the building trade..They’d come onto the job sucking up to the tradies like they was “one of the boys”, dropping the slang where they could but knowing sweet f#ck all about anything..and then you hear the rumours of how they got their money in the first place, how slow they were to pay the progress payments or materials bill..the usual sort of shit that the wealthy get up to..AND in my experience, it WAS the wealthy who were the worst payers…the ; “I want the best possible job the cheapest possible price”. and they end up paying the trades out of a suitcase full of money in the boot of the Merc’..and you know then what sort of people they are..crooks.
    He was always a useless bum to me from the I was not surprised how he has ended up..gutless little arsehole..He’s not going to get any better..that’s all he is all he ever was ; full to the gills of bullshit!

  18. Henry Rodrigues

    Joseph Carli,

    A better description of Turdball would be hard to find. Cheers mate.

  19. Kaye Lee

    “that’s all he is all he ever was”

    That made me think of this song….I can imagine Malcolm dedicating it to Lucy. Those three words, Jobs and Growth, are said too much, They’re not enough

  20. Gangey1959

    If prime minister trumbles doesn’t care which party he leads as pm, when he rescued the lnp in 2016 why did he not assemble a middle-of-the-road cabinet of the best available from everyone elected from all sides, and give Australians what we deserve?
    Instead, he put his testicles in a jar, and sold everything he has ever proclaimed as being important for another stint in the big chair.
    Lucky he’s got those dollars in the caymans, and a good parliamentary pension, and Lucy to stand by him.
    Shame about what history will say of him though.

  21. Michael Taylor

    Jack, I made the decision to take it down.

  22. nexusxyz

    I don’t think he is particularly cerebral and zero empathy for people’s circumstances. Fits in well with all the psychopaths in the current excuse for a government.

  23. Kaye Lee

    LAURIE OAKES AT THE MELBOURNE PRESS CLUB TODAY: “The necessities of politics have prevented Malcolm from being the man we thought he was and the man he thought he was. But the PM’s current problem, in my view, is that he isn’t very good at politics and never has been. He lacks the skills.”

  24. Harquebus

    I came across Binoy’s article at globalresearch and read it again just to see what all the fuss was about. Couldn’t see it. Some people are just too sensitive.

  25. Joseph Carli

    Kaye Lee…Have to agree with Oakes on this one..It’s the same with carpentry and some other trades..a person builds a pergola or perhaps a BBQ. and they think they are now builders..the same with takes skill to be a politician..and a flair with language..not just a glib tongue, but FLAIR! be able to sell an idea to a people that they either didn’t want or had never before considered takes a skill in communication.
    Don Dunstan was a politicia, as was Gough Whitlam…not so much Hawke…HE was more bluff, Keating was one…
    OOPS!..gotta go..been called to dinner..

  26. paul walter

    Gee, enjoyed that anecdote via Kaye Lee, 2.18

  27. bob bob

    Turnbull is the living embodiment of every single thing that is wrong with modern politics.

  28. Kaye Lee


    This is another good one from the Good Weekend article….

    “During the stormy days of “Goanna” in 1984, when Turnbull ran Packer’s campaign to clear his name after The National Times published leaked case studies from the Costigan Royal Commission, he persuaded Packer to counter-attack with a “violent” (Turnbull’s word) public attack on royal commissioner Frank Costigan QC. In one of the most aggressive performances seen in Australia, Turnbull taunted Costigan to sue him – according to Justice David Hunt in the NSW Supreme Court, Turnbull accused Douglas Meagher QC and Costigan of being unjust, capricious, dishonest and malicious.

    Turnbull had said Meagher, the counsel assisting the commission, had leaked the case studies which formed the basis of the “Goanna” allegations. The then National Times editor, Brian Toohey, told Good Weekend. “Douglas Meagher did not leak them to me nor did Frank Costigan. By the time I got the documents, they had been widely circulated at government level. I am astounded that people in the media like Packer and Turnbull so wildly and inaccurately pointed the finger at people when they didn’t have a clue. Had the defamation case [Packer sued Meagher] gone ahead, they would have gone on their neck unceremoniously.”

    Packer was cleared in a statement by then Attorney General Lionel Bowen but Turnbull’s behaviour backfired. Packer’s defamation action was struck out as an abuse of process and there came a devastating attack on Turnbull by Justice Hunt who said he had managed “to poison the fountain of justice”.

  29. Michael Taylor

    Early in his political career many were saying that he would have been better suited to being a Labor politician.

    But if it were the case, I think I’d be ashamed to have him in the party I support.

  30. Kaye Lee

    There is an interesting article in Honi Soit, the Sydney Uni student newspaper, that looks at Turnbull’s time at uni where he often made contributions to the paper…..

    He describes the political landscape Whitlam inherited from the conservatives as warmed “by the steak-fed bottoms of the sons of Toorak and the champions of Double Bay”.

    He even wrote a sharp defence of proposed changes to political advertisements–arguing financial contributions should be regulated and that ads should be substantial, not gimmicky.

    Peculiar Turnbullisms: Malcolm At Sydney Uni

  31. jamesss

    He’s still a turd, just a white dried up turd laying in the hot sun on the front lawn. The turd you would kick and it would disappear in cloud of white dust.

  32. Harquebus

    “it takes skill to be a politician..and a flair with language..not just a glib tongue, but FLAIR! be able to sell an idea to a people” Emphasis mine.
    This is what I don’t like. Politicians should be voting according to the majority view of their constituents regardless of what they themselves think. That’s what they’re paid to do, represent their electorates.The refusal of politicians to do this has been complained about many times here in the marriage equality debate.

  33. Michael Taylor

    Politicians should be voting according to the majority view of their constituents regardless of what they themselves think.

    And in an ideal world, regardless of what their party thinks, too.

    We need more politicians with courage. Courage to represent their constituents rather than their party.

  34. Harquebus

    Michael Taylor
    Hear hear!

  35. Michael Taylor

    Jack, all I can say is … valid reasons.

  36. Joseph Carli

    ” That’s what they’re paid to do, represent their electorates.”…Ah…but you see, Harq’…what you are in essence seeking is representation..NOT a politician..I see a politician as someone who is not “in-step” with me, but at least two steps in front of me…looking to future needs and policy..a bureaucrat can give me “representation” in civil comforts as required…but a good politician, like a good tradesman will look to what is required to secure the future in infrastructure after setting things in place for the here and now.
    When I look at a footings plan, I have the experience and knowledge to envisage the complete structure..and with a little imagination, I can see the entire methodology and piece by piece structure..almost a fait-accompli. the only thing left to do is the work…a good politician here would hand over to the bureaucrat and move on to future planning.
    The difference with this LNP “govt’ ” and political nous, is that they have NEVER completed the ground-work for civil structure and cannot even move on. They are NOT politicians, just lawyers and stooges who think they have a capacity..but then we ALL know now how much rubbish that is.

  37. John L

    I just hope he dies a long slow lingering death.

  38. johno

    “For Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, life is attack, attack, attack.” And here I was thinking the Tones was number one attack dog. Woof !

  39. Darrell McKlaren

    “It would also be interesting to know what sporting prowess Malcolm claimed to help win his Rhodes scholarship.” Pretty sure Malcolm was a gymnast… still does a mean backflip.

  40. Harquebus

    Joseph Carli
    I see. The House of Representatives has been misnamed.

    “I see a politician as someone who is not “in-step” with me, but at least two steps in front of me”

    BTW: Did you see my message about R.G’s. Live in Europe.

  41. Joseph Carli

    ” R.G’s. Live in Europe.”…yes..
    I wonder on you Harquebus…you say you are in the same age bracket as myself (boomer) but sometimes you sound so naive…The House of Rep’s is the orthodox front counter for slogan politics..the real political intrigue is somewhere out the back..sometimes SO out the back as to be “off-site” and played out in global corp’ is only when a unique politician comes along and drops a populist bomb into the smooth operation that it gets a tad “disrupted”..Take this Elon Musk battery bank that Jay Wetherill dropped into the energy mix..didn’t THAT start some fireworks..and if the Labor promo is anything to go by it, along with other green-energy measures is going to cause a minor earthquake in energy supply for both the state and Oz in general…now THAT, in my book, is politics.

  42. Robert Higgginbottom

    Turnbull is another Trump but with eloquence,the same look at me ,look at me please see me as a success persona & win at any cost even if you have to destroy the country you supposedly love & run & those who you govern.

  43. Harquebus

    Joseph Carli
    Thanks for that. What politics is and what it should be are two different things and what it should be is what most of the arguments are about.
    In regards to the big battery, it is stupid politics.

  44. Joseph Carli

    Harquebus..your “BIG PICTURE” world is about the size of a postage stamp.

  45. Phil Atkinson

    I’m so glad for Turnbull that he’s attained his ambition to be prime minister of Australia. Surprisingly, he’s even outlasted Abbott. Now he can resign, safe in the knowledge that he’s not the last or worst, just the penultimate.

  46. Florence nee Fedup

    Malcolm no longer getting what he wants. Making him very angry indeed.

    Not sure he knows anymore what he wants.

    Rudd like in inability to make decisions. When he is forced into doing so, gets it wrong every time.

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