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Ten Kids Poorer than Malcolm

The Hashtag #MalcolmWasSoPoor has been trending around the Twitter-verse. This is in response to a recent public video from our Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. In a cruel morbidly satirical twist to the election; our obnoxiously wealthy, high end of town associated, Cayman Island investing, Australian Prime Minister has tried to prop himself up as the very battler his own party oppresses.

Turnbull tells the story of his single father – a hotel broker – a life of real battles and struggles. He speaks about this battle and struggle of a hotel broker parent as synonymous with the lives of other single parents – the low paid workers and the welfare dependent.

In his out of touch way, he also tries to draw the implicit comparison that genuinely poor people understand, and that is that ‘sometimes love is all that gets us through.’

Love is all that gets us through when we need to eat hot milk, bread and sugar to fill our tummies and keep us warm; not when we are worrying about what the elite private school we are attending might be serving us for lunch!

It is well known that Turnbull has had a privileged life, attending a school for the wealthy, has had high-flying well known connections to assist him to get ahead in life and is now a multi-millionaire. Australians are not dolts and the viral hash-tag shows that many Australians are beyond belief at this latest grab for votes.

This attempt to identify with those in poverty, would have been more palatable, if he had recognised his privilege, but identified that he has used that privilege to listen to people and work on ways to help them. But he did not.

The release of this video in the midst of an election – an election with class-war as the centrepiece, draws parallels to cultural appropriation in the form of poverty appropriation.

You simply cannot dress yourself up as a poor and disadvantaged person and ‘borrow’ that way of life as if this gives you entitlement to the pain and struggles of these people. It is insulting and denies the credit of the struggle of the poor and disadvantaged that they deserve. Poverty appropriation is a new low in politics.

The disconnect of Turnbull and the Liberal party to the poor and disadvantaged demographic is ingrained within their constitution:

2. d (vi) looking primarily to the encouragement of individual initiative and enterprise as the dynamic force of progress. Which translates to:


This is a stuff and nonsense platitude that does nothing but add another label or ‘laziness’ or ‘bludger’ to the poor and disadvantaged, who are already stigmatised by the empty LNP rhetoric and their harsh policy decisions.

Turnbull doesn’t want us to look at the Duncan Storrar’s of this world and say ‘how can we help as a collective – as a nation? How can we work together to do better to assist people like Duncan lead a better life? What can the Government do about this?’

No, Turnbull wants us to look at people like Duncan and cry:

“Shame! You have not used your own initiative, you are lazy and can do better! The Liberal Party gives you the individual freedom and punitive welfare measures to push you forward and make you work hard and the free market to do this in. It is your fault if you cannot be the best you can be.”

…and this was very loudly backed up by the Liberal Party’s biggest advocates – The Murdoch Press.

There are kids who are the real battlers of today, who do not need to use some type of poverty appropriation to experience it, to empathise with it or identify with it – they live it every day. Here are ten kids poorer than Malcolm:

1. The eight year old boy in regional and rural Australia who is struggling to get a proper education because his family has no access to the internet.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his judgement of rural and regional Australians that he completely misunderstands their communications needs and how a communications infrastructure is essential and affects their prospects for the future.

2. The ten year old girl who can sing like an angel, who has the potential to be another Dame Joan Sutherland, but is unable to compete beyond the local eisteddfod, as her parents cannot afford singing lessons, let alone the travel for state or national competition.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his understanding of how a few spare dollars a fortnight can make the future so different for some children, when his party cut Family Payments.

3. The seven year old girl in a regional community who misses her dad so much when he goes away for treatment for weeks at a time, as the regional hospital does not have the services to treat his condition.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his understanding of the crucial role public health plays, particularly in regional communities when his Government cut critical health funding by $80 billion dollars.

4. The six year old boy who sees the shame in his mother’s eyes simultaneously with the judging eyes of the shop assistant as his mother hands over her Basic’s Card and he feels the not yet understood feeling of stigma.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his life experience that he cannot empathise and feel the shame and stigma that income management brings.

5. The nine year old girl with undiagnosed learning problems who will get further and further behind, because the school cannot afford additional remedial support staff to assist her.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his choosing a life dedicated to individualism and the free market over democratic socialism, that he cannot comprehend how an ideology based on individualism hurts those most in need and it is the chain that holds them back when he chose not to ‘Go the Full Gonski – whatever that means.’

6. The three young children who were so hungry their stomachs hurt, because they were unlucky to live in a disaster prone area when a flood hit and they had no access to funding for food after all of theirs was spoilt and destroyed.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in the checking of his privilege when he supported his party to cut Labor’s disaster funding guidelines which excluded so many needy disaster stricken families in desperate need of financial assistance.

7. The eleven year old girl who knows how to grab her four year old brother quickly to find the hiding spot and knows how to keep very, very still and not make a sound as she cries when she hears her mother get thumped and dragged and beaten and her heart races with every blood curdling scream, because Mummy says there is no where for them to go.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his commitment to feminism when the Liberal party cut funding to domestic violence services and Community Legal Centres in Australia and decided to inadequately address funding needs for this sector in the budget.

8. The young person who will suicide next week due to not being able to cope with early onset of psychosis and his family cannot afford $600 to see a private psychologist.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his understanding that all lives matter more than dollars when he made the commitment to discontinue organisations such as the The Early Psychosis Youth Services (EPYS) program.

9. The young teenage girl who will develop serious health problems and die at only age 26, as in making the choice between a paying for a blood test or food, she chose food.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his foresight that destroying and privatising Medicare that this situation will be a young person’s future reality.

10. The thirteen year old boy who is so afraid inside, but must show he is brave as he continually swallows the urge to cry, as he sleeps tucked up inside a stolen sleeping bag in an abandoned industrial building with his new ‘friends’.
#MalcolmWasSoPoor in his comprehension that being a homeless youth is terrifying, lonely and dangerous when the Turnbull-Abbott government cut more than $500 million from homelessness support services.

As a child raised below the poverty line, this latest Turnbull video – an attempt at garnering votes saw me initially remain silent. Regardless of Turnbull’s intention with this video, it has made me feel by ‘borrowing the lived experience of real poverty’ as his own, he has mocked my childhood and my experiences with contempt as he lilts and lulls his inflections with aplomb and tries to romanticise a life of disadvantage as ‘one that is the foundation of success’, as long as you have a ‘good dad.’

As someone who normally enjoys political satire, I have not been able to participate in the #MalcolmWasSoPoor Twitter frenzy and mock Turnbull’s attempt at poverty appropriation. I did not know why, until I worked out how this had actually made me feel.

I can only speak for how I feel and not for others, but this latest political stunt has developed a seething inner child who has screamed so loudly to stand in solidarity with the children of poverty who exist today that I was compelled to pen this post and give them voice through this medium.

To say the least, writing this list has been extremely confronting, even with my own lived experience. I have used poetic licence to bring these stories into the context of today, but every single example is built from a real example of someone I have made a connection with throughout my life, except for number 9, which is a hypothetical of the result of a Medicare system under destruction. These stories are not fiction.

Rich or Poor we have the power in this country to make our world better for these children and we can do that with a vote. There are children like these in every electorate, this is their reality. Vote for an end to the conservative agenda permeated with individualism and put the LNP last on July 2. Our voice is our power. Please use it wisely.

Originally published on Polyfeministix



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  1. Zathras

    The “Malcolm was poor” story is a way to try and make a connection between his upbringing and those in “struggle street”.

    His father left him a $2million estate and that was a pretty good leg-up for anybody.

  2. horatio

    Thank you Trish

  3. Keitha Granville

    can you send this to Malcolm ? and to Bill ? so they REALLY understand

  4. Carol Taylor

    That is it precisely Trish, individualism is another way of saying ‘selfish’ when it is minus any sense of responsibility.

  5. helvityni

    Keitha Granville, agree, it ought to be sent to Morrison and Dutton and to rest of the heartless mob….

  6. jimhaz

    Over the top as usual. Nothing particularly wrong with MT’s video. Seemed honest to me – he didn’t say much about battling.

    The LNP parties policies are a separate issue, and I would never vote for them as a result, however the article seems to indicate that the government should be able to step in and solve all our human problems – sorry that will never be the case and we would not want it to be.

  7. Wun Farlung

    Just think how well spent our tax is on the small army of (good job/good pay) spinners and advisors Mal has helping him.. Waste

  8. Arthur Plottier

    Superb article!! I am not in FB to share it with my contacts but if any of you are in FB please share it.

  9. Gangey1959

    Great article Trish.
    It should be carved into the front steps of Parliament House, with a “Be Aware, All Ye Who Serve Here”.
    What sort of arrogant prick is turdbott, and how stupid does he think Australians are?
    I know he sold his (arse)soul to the devil worshippers in his party in order to get the top job, but he must have had his head up there too,because only a multi-millionaire without a braincell in sight would think “I was so poor” was going to fly with the general public this election.
    Talcum, you’ve got no balls, no plan, no character, no effing idea, and now you’ve proved to the nation that you’ve got no brains.
    The only thing you have got is $200 million, and they are in the caymans. Piss off and join them, and let the real people have a chance at repairing the monstrous stuff-up you and your tinpot incompetent morons that Australia has been saddled with for the last 3 plus coward’s regime’s years have caused to what is still the greatest country in the universe.

  10. mark

    malcolm crying poor,that’s rich,mark

  11. Lee

    Poor fella me…………im a toff with a capital T……..

  12. David1

    jimhaz missed the big picture as usual…blinkerrs off Jimmy, makes for a clearer view

  13. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Excellent article, Trish.

    My hat goes off to your powerful revelations and how Turnbull has cynically misappropriated other people’s real life anguish caused by poverty and hardship.

    I’m posting this on Twitter.

  14. Mark

    We were so poor when I was a kid that my mum, with 3 kids, had to work any job to try and make ends meet. She would give me $10 every couple of days to buy sausages and mince and vegetables to cook for me and my sisters while she was working. Malcolm Turnbull knows nothing of that sort of poor. He went to private schools while I went to public schools on government handouts just so I could get my books. He knows nothing of living on the edge of poverty and never will. And now he is selling us out to the US corporations with all these free trade agreements and the TPP treaty where US corporations have more say in the laws of Australia than the Australian public does. And he still wants to try playing the poor card.

  15. Don A Kelly

    Fantastic article, Trish.
    I have told my kids and grandchildren that wealth creation is directly related to skills acquired. How can kids today attain those skills with the governments education policies unless they are from the top end of town?

  16. Loz

    Turnbull’s early struggle is absolute bunkum! He was enrolled at a private school, a school that is completely out of reach for the real poor in this country. His father left him 2 million dollar for god’s sake. Turnbull and his party treat the electorate like idiots.

  17. jimhaz

    [jimhaz missed the big picture as usual…blinkers off Jimmy, makes for a clearer view]

    This comment has no argument, just mockery, so either say something meaningful or get stuffed. Everyone back then was more or less a battler and there were few male single parent families. He actually plays the battler bit down.

  18. jimhaz

    Look I don’t want to support Turnbull as I do not support 95% of LNP policies – but the level of overplaying in this article is ridiculous.

    Another thing to consider is the OLD Malcolm v the new one. Many of his older views were not that far off some of the aims of this website – do you think he would have formed those viewpoints if he was a pure toff as a youngster? I’d say his personality arose as he was on the lowest level relative to his Vaucluse cohort – he was jealous of the toffs wealth and developed opportunistic tendencies to try and lift his status. As his father became wealthy and as he also succeeded he began to change into the toff he always wanted to be.

    [He was enrolled at a private school, a school that is completely out of reach for the real poor in this country]

    “Malcolm’s high school education at Sydney Grammar was assisted by a scholarship”

  19. diannaart


    He (Malcom Turnbull) actually plays the battler bit down.

    Yeah that’s why none of us are having this conversation – Malcolm keeps his deprived past so close to his chest (in another galaxy).

  20. you can't be serious

    Malcolm was so poor, apparently he even had to sell any good judgement he had, back in those bad old days.

    What other explanation is there for this badly misjudged, weird and cynical appeal to voters’ emotions?

    Perhaps someday he and the Liberal Party will be rich enough to buy some good judgement and a campaign strategy that does not so spectacularly miss the mark 😉

    (Might also explain the Godwin Grech incident too – lack of judgement again).

  21. trishcorry

    Thank you for your comments everyone. Thanks Mark for sharing your story.

  22. Jill McDonnell

    Talk to The Smith Family. They support kids from disadvantaged families to get an education and enhance their lives. They have lots of stories of kids from disadvantaged families who are working very hard to improve their lives.
    Cf f. Hfû. F. C

  23. Julie

    Malcolm was so poor he had to sell his soul.

  24. David1

    Julie 10/10 best yet 🙂

  25. Trish Corry

    I was talking about my blog with a family member and my non-political husband yelled out to me before “MalcolmWasSoPoor that even his Prime Ministership is second hand” Maybe he isn’t as non-political as I think!

  26. jim

    Malcoms so poor he lost his moral courage.

  27. SGB

    Thank you Trish Corry

    The next time someone calls me a bleeding heart Lefty

    I will be thinking of those ten kids

    I’ll wear the Bleeding Heart Lefty badge with pride from now on

    Stephen G B

  28. Trish Corry

    I have had some really heart warming comments today from this blog post and your’s is certainly up there with them Stephen. Thank you.

  29. paul walter

    At last it comes to me…Monty Python and the Four Yorkshiremen.

  30. trishcorry

    hahahah that is awesome. I so need to tweet this. Thanks!

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