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What Malcolm said

Malcolm Turnbull once spoke of a trust deficit. Is it any wonder when he changes his mind so often? This is a selection of his past views.

Double Dissolution

When Kevin Rudd suggested a DD in 2009

The Prime Minister hasn’t, cannot even summon up the courage to try to fix this mess. His threat of a double dissolution and an early election prove to all of us what this budget is really about.

It isn’t about protecting the jobs of Australians, least of all the 1 million Australians it says will soon be out of work. It is about the job security of one man, and one man only. A Prime Minister frightened of the consequences of his mismanagement now wants to cut and run before he is found out.

Marriage Equality

7:30 Report 03/03/2015

The reality is that Tony Abbott and my position on gay marriage is very close. Both of us believe the party room should decide whether there should be a free vote, a “conscience vote”, so-called – and I have no doubt that if a private member’s bill comes up, I’ve got no doubt the party room will decide there will be a free vote: that is actually the long-standing Liberal tradition.

August 2015

The reason I haven’t advocated a plebiscite after the next election is that it would mean, it will mean, that this issue is a live issue all the way up to the next election. One of the attractions of a free vote is that it would have meant the matter would be resolved in this Parliament one way or another in a couple of weeks.

Metadata Retention

Alfred Deakin Lecture 2012

While the purported intent is that only metadata – data about data – will be available to law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies, there is no explanation of how metadata will be distinguished from data (the two are often commingled, as in the ‘subject’ line of emails), why both would not be readily available once a message has been handed over and decrypted, and indeed how readily in an IP world it is possible to keep a record of the time, date, size, sender, receiver and possibly subject of an email without also retaining the contents.

Nor has there been an explanation of what costs and benefits have been estimated for this sweeping and intrusive new power, how these were arrived at, what (if any) cost was ascribed to its chilling effect on free speech, and whether any gains in national security or law enforcement asserted as justification for the changes will be monitored and verified should they be enacted.

…Leaving aside the central issue of the right to privacy, there are formidable practical objections. The carriers, including Telstra, have argued that the cost of complying with a new data retention regime would be very considerable with the consequence of higher charges for their customers.

Direct Action vs ETS

Speech to the House of Representatives February 2010

Now, all of us know in this House that industries and businesses, attended by an army of lobbyists, are particularly persuasive and all too effective at getting their sticky fingers into the taxpayer’s pocket.

Having the Government pick projects for subsidy is a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale and there will always be a temptation for projects to be selected for their political appeal.

In short, having the Government pay for emissions abatement, as opposed to the polluting industries themselves, is a slippery slope which can only result in higher taxes and more costly and less effective abatement of emissions.

The proposed ETS is a balanced, substantive and timely step forward on an issue of immense importance. And by relying so heavily on market forces to address this challenging problem, the ETS is far more in the great traditions of modern Liberalism than any other available policy response.

The ETS allows Australian businesses to make their own decisions as to how to reduce their emissions – Government sets the rules and in part sets the cap on total emission and then lets the market work out the most efficient and effective result.

Schemes where bureaucrats and politicians pick technologies and winners, doling out billions of taxpayers’ dollars is neither good policy is neither economically efficient and nor will it be environmentally effective.

Lateline 2011

If you want to have a long-term technique of cutting carbon emissions, you know, in a very substantial way to the levels that the scientists are telling us we need to do by mid-century to avoid dangerous climate change, then a direct action policy where the Government, where industry was able to freely pollute, if you like, and the Government was just spending more and more taxpayers’ money to offset it, that would become a very expensive charge on the budget in the years ahead.

Negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions

In his 2005 tax policy paper, Malcolm Turnbull described negative gearing and the CGT discount as a “sheltering tax haven” that is “skewing national investment away from wealth-creating pursuits, towards housing”, and has caused a “property bubble”. Turnbull also acknowledged that “Australia’s rules on negative gearing are very generous compared to many other countries” and that “the normal deductibility principles do not apply to negatively geared real estate such that the taxpayer is not obliged to demonstrate that the negatively geared property will generate positive cash flow at some point in the distant future”.

In 2014 he said “Looking at Australia’s tax regime you would say that it is too tough on people earning income… but is incredibly concessional to older people who have made their money…”

The urgent need for honesty

George Winterton Lecture 2012

How often do we hear Australian politicians discuss these challenges in a genuinely open, honest, spin-free and non-adversarial way? Where the intention is to clearly explain the problem, accept responsibility for past misteps if appropriate (rather than apportion as much blame as possible to the other side), allow a non-ideological discussion of possible remedies, and see if there is any common ground for bipartisan work?

Seldom, and even more rarely if a camera is rolling.

If you love your country, have an interest in politics or policy, and care deeply about our nation’s future, there is nothing more certain to arouse your fury and invite your contempt than listening to an entire House of Representatives Question Time.

Increasingly too the journalists who cover politics are drawn into the game – often praising politicians for their skilful use of spin, their cunning ability to avoid a difficult question or their brutal ability to misrepresent and destroy their opponent’s arguments. Commenting on the play takes a lot less time than painstakingly pointing out where the spin has misrepresented an issue.

The politicians and parties that can demonstrate they can be trusted, that they will not insult the people with weasel words and spin, that they will not promise more than they can deliver, that they will not dishonestly misrepresent either their own or their opponents’ policies – those politicians and parties will, I submit to you, deserve and receive electoral success.


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  1. kerri

    Such a profound liar! So desperate to get and keep the top job he is willing to sell his soul! He is by far worse than Abbott because at least Abbott lied for an ideological purpose as well as to get the top job!
    My advice to Bill Shorten?
    Stay honest and stay humble!
    These are the two qualities Turnbull is devoid of.

  2. John Hermann

    Turnbull and Abbott are not unique in this regard. The sad truth is that party politics (irrespective of the party) is about organised lying, distortion and misrepresentation.

  3. keerti

    All politicians are liars. Some politicians are bigger and more outrageous liars than others!

  4. Kaye Lee

    The thing that really struck me reading through the full transcripts of Malcolm’s various speeches was that he recognises the problems, knows what should be done to address them, and intelligently and eloquently argues the case…until he actually is in a position as PM to do something about it at which time all sense flies out the window and we are back to the spin he so rightly deplores even though it is diametrically opposed to his stated and well-argued views. How can you do that?

  5. ImagiNation

    It’s easy to understand. Before becoming PM a politician will do and say whatever it takes to get the top job. On becoming PM a politician says and does what he is told to say by the party and the lobbyists who put him there.

  6. Glenn K

    Kaye, probably more than anything it displays how the LNP is bought and controlled by powerful vested interests. You ask how Malcolm can do that? He understands power and he understands it very well. He is an intelligent man – no-one disputes his intelligence (his judgement perhaps but not his intelligence). He is responding to this understanding of power – this more than anything is a scary proposition for Australia.

  7. Terry2

    Malcolm in a muddle !

  8. ImagiNation

    Pinocchio didn’t want to be a puppet. Politics is different.

  9. John

    Turnball is a very very sad sad character.

  10. FreeThinker

    Malcolm’s foundation values seem to be an amalgam of his barrister background ( ‘ I can cogently, competitively and successfully argue any brief I am offered ‘ ), and his long demonstrated predilection of continue to pursue a career work life which has placed the highest emphasis on ‘ Looking out for Number One. ‘ , ( eg. his Goldman -Sachs years). and stuff those who are not as smart or as fortunate as he Is.

    No wonder he joined the Liberal Party !

    Drawing on a personal history and a frame of reference consistent with laissez-faire capitalism, ( in the 21 century, which has morphed into global neo-liberalism ), Malcolm Turnbull’s actions since he assumed the Prime Minister role, speak louder than his words and slogans ( ‘ economic leadership’ for example ). And of course he remains hostage to the Abbott ideological troglodytes, who inhabit the Liberal Party.

    We shouldn’t expect much of Turnbull as a national leader, striving to be ‘flexible’ in the better interests of the great majority of Australians in the coming election campaign, or indeed, if he manages to remain Prime Minister after July this year.

  11. michaelattoowoomba

    Thanks again for another great and factual article.My two cents worth,do you really think he ever had any xtian morals,a Qc AND a merchant banker.ad a politician ????

    old joke=How to tell when a lawyer is well hung; can’t get your fingers under the noose……M F.

  12. David

    Amazing how desperation can bring out the true evil inner person and we are seeing it in spades with Turnbull. Posted the article to Twitter, hope there are plenty of readers Kaye Lee, your article is worth it.

  13. jimhaz

    [was that he recognises the problems, knows what should be done to address them, and intelligently and eloquently argues the case]

    Which all of Abbotts key party supporters seemed incapable of doing. I still feel a lot more relaxed under the Opportunist than the Punisher….so far. Budget to come though, not that it means much, as one would have no idea what he’d do in the 2nd term.

    Something that worries me is what they’ll try and include as part of the “we now have a mandate catch all” if elected, and what this means in terms of the ALP and independent senators possibly feeling obliged to be more lenient in supporting other bills involving savings. It may be part of why they planned this DD well in advance.

    Were I an ALP minister I wouldn’t take any notice and continue to refuse to support even the ABCC bill.

  14. paul walter

    Trust deficit? Dam that, just spat out a piece of hot pizza considering the concept as it applies to those people.

  15. David

    I have one thing and one thing only fixed firmly in my brain until the night of July 2nd…….a Labor victory. There are many many different ‘I wonder ifs’ however Labor wins and Tory ifs will not apply. Should they not win then the first item of thought come Sunday the 3rd will be, the ifs and what now?

  16. wam

    asic absolutely capable of more than a commission last week underfunded by multimillions more than a commission this week the banks are admitting guilt right left and centre begging labor to acquiesce.
    Can bill give up the commission or will he???
    Not on your nellie!!!!!!!

  17. michaelattoowoomba

    WARNING; Any voter who think all those horrible budget changes the coalition could not get through senate,thanks to all those CRAZY indie senators,if these insane B##%*&^ds get re-elected,hang on to your hat and anything else you value.WHO else you vote for,vote for anybody else but coalition.Vote ,Labor,Green,Independent,Drovers Dog,Anything EXCEPT the coalition,And examine independents policy allignments. A hung parliament will be miles preferable to anymore of same or worse from this lot.I have never seen so many highly educated idiots in one place.Remember,think before you vote,also check your electoral details NOW,plus remind any one and every person you know ,especially all the young people you engage with,and point out to them their votes do count,VERY MUCH.

    On another note,has an election actually been called or just announced.I have been out of touch today,so still catching up.Once officially called then they { the parties ] have to pay for their own ads,not like now,they use our own money against us, plus all that donor.Also,have you noticed msm T V has already been running so called documentries,Demonising all the millions of welfare cheats [ well would you believe hundreds ] not a word about dodgy course providers,dodgy employment providers,a few hundreds of millions of taxpayers money could be clawed back. M F.

  18. SGB

    I believe the words are; hypocritical, hypocrite

  19. mark

    or corrupt,corruption.mark

  20. Douglas Evans

    I’m stunned by the dithering although reading the quotes above I probably shouldn’t be. Most noticeable to me though is his changed demeanor. In his public appearances he seems less and less like a man who is enjoying his job and more and more like a man who wishes he was somewhere else.

  21. Miriam English

    Great article Kaye, as always. I always admire your gift for research. When reading your articles I find myself thinking, how on Earth does she find all this?

    It amazes me that Malcolm Turnbull could sell out to such craziness. As Douglas Evans said above, his appearance now is of someone who is not enjoying the job. I get the strong impression that he hates lying. So why does he do it? What can they possibly do to him? Boot him out? Big deal. He’s not having fun anyway. He has more money than god, so he certainly doesn’t need the job. If he would stick to speaking the truth then he might actually have a lasting legacy. But as it is, he will be remembered as the wet tissue that the loony right-wing-nut-jobs cowed into being a compliant liar. What a waste. He had a real opportunity and is letting rabid Christian lunatics and fools push him around.

  22. Gangey1959

    Oooooh malcolm. And to think you had such high hopes for yourself.

  23. Backyard Bob


    Most noticeable to me though is his changed demeanor. In his public appearances he seems less and less like a man who is enjoying his job and more and more like a man who wishes he was somewhere else.

    I think that’s been evident at least since the Government was elected. As an author here at AIMN said back in 2013:

    Then came 2013. The Turnbull we had known and many had come to “love” seemed to disappear. The erudite raconteur and outspoken visionary just seemed to vanish. Instead we saw a man who danced to the Coalition’s Choreography, never putting a foot wrong, never missing a beat. Apart from a brief appearance in June with Wayne Swan to help launch a series of essays about the Republic – Project Republic: Plans and Arguments For a New Australia – for which both had written Forwards, Turnbull has given the appearance of a man being stage-managed in much the same way as Tony Abbott. The difference was Turnbull looked and sounded extremely uncomfortable.

    One does not have to be a trained psychologist or an expert in body language to have seen a seemingly broken man delivering the Coalition’s Broadband Policy to the electorate. This was not a man convinced of the veracity and allure of his words. Since 2012 Turnbull seems to have aged suddenly. It’s not just that his hair went thoroughly grey; that can happen in a short period of time. It’s his overall demeanour, his carriage and the manner of his speech. Perhaps he is simply unwell and hasn’t declared it, but he looks like a broken mustang – bereft of life, energy and spirit – or a dog that’s been beaten into submission by its owner. I think there’s no doubt whatsoever that at the very least he’s been told by the power brokers in his party to shut the hell up on a number of fronts.

  24. David

    Miriam you ask a great question..;so why does he do it? I guess there are many reasons. Ego, need to be on stage, narcissist, look at me. After the tragedy of the Godwyn Gretch catastrophe in UteGate where the life of the informant was for all intent destroyed (In 2013, Fairfax Media reported Grech was believed to have won a payout from the federal government for his ill health. Media sought access to case details, but they were deemed confidential and the public was barred from attending court proceedings or accessing court documents. Ruling still stands)

    After that humiliation and the ensuing dumping by his party as leader, unless one was an Abbott, a sucker for punishment, for most that would have been the end of it. Not Turnbull and while not possessing the psychotic crazy of Abbott, the draw of the limelight was calling and he realised he would have to wait, watch and when the right moment arrived…spotlight on, hello everyone it’s me Mal Pal, I’m back.

    Maybe it isn’t like that, but it’s how I see him. A rich man, bored with owning companies, money rolling in and being suitably distributed for future use as required, seeking a life rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, his kind of people. Being PM was the perfect vehicle but he again miscalculated, its not a hobby, its leading a nation and again he was found out, he is woefully unqualified to lead.

  25. roddy666

    These days, I just take anything any member of the LNP says, reverse it, and that will be the case. They are not just everyday liars any more, they are compulsive, addicted liars, unable to stop. They say the more you lie, the harder it is to stop lying, and they have long since hit that point.

  26. Kyran

    The odd thing is that spin doctors used to massage the truth to make a nasty proposition more palatable. The spin doctors evolved, after being accused of using weasel words. The evolution required they bludgeon the truth, to make it unrecognisable. More importantly, the truth was bludgeoned to make it unacceptable.
    Talcum’s involvement in the HIH RC was three days in the box, in which his recollection was often challenged and/or disputed. Andrew Denton’s interview of Alan Bond on Enough Rope was an absolute testimony to “I don’t recall.”. Then there is the progression of memory loss testimony; Arfur, Pell, etc.
    Gillard and Shorten both appeared before TURC and were criticised by Heydon for their ability to recall.
    Whilst looking for some articles to post in support of ‘recall’ verses ‘don’t recall’ testimony, I came across this;


    Excerpts aplenty, and I still haven’t found the ‘sequel’ article. Forget the spin doctors. The emporer has no clothes. Thank you, Ms Lee. Take care

  27. Truffles

    I find it truly amazing that a person can take over the leadership of a party that was over a barrel, and then be totally broken by that party.

    If he didn’t have the authority to change the party when he first took over, he never will. Things will only get worse fro him and the country if he persists.

    We all need to do our bit on July 2 by voting them into oblivion. It will be an easy task all the time time they employ nasty, spiteful, vengeful people like sofi mirraball representing them.

  28. Miriam English

    Truffles, it reminds me of the hatefest that is conservative politics in USA at the moment. They keep electing… ummm… I forget what they call them over there… Speaker of the House? To be effectively the leader of their party then the poor bastard can’t get anything done because the idiots in the party refuse to do anything. Then after some years all the conservatives have to choose the same leader or another and because nothing got done, due to their obstreperousness they all blame him and elect another. I think we’re seeing the LNP in Australia degenerate into the same mess of faeces.

    If I’m right, expect LNP politics to get worse, more divisive, and more hateful. Whoever is leader will become more and more hamstrung by the morons in their party… unless the leader is one of those morons, in which case he will run amok.

    If Labor play this right they could be in power for a very long time after this year’s election. I truly hope they take the opportunity to break up horrible Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. He is the one thing that could prevent Labor winning, I think. In that case we could end up with the whole stinking LNP mess blowing up in our faces, covering us all with its putrid slime. Ugh!

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