Malcolm Bligh Turnbull (born 24 October 1954) is an Australian politician who has been the Member of Parliament for Wentworth in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs since 2004. He was the Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Liberal Party from 2008 to 2009, and has been the Minister for Communications since 18 September 2013.
Turnbull was educated at Sydney Grammar School and the University of Sydney, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws. He then attended Brasenose College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Civil Law. Prior to entering politics, he worked as a journalist, lawyer, investment banker, and venture capitalist. In 1993, he became the Chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, a position he held until 2000.
In September 2008, Turnbull was elected Leader of the Liberal Party, becoming the Leader of the Opposition. In November 2009, he ordered the Liberal Party to support the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme proposed by the Labor Government. This decision split the Liberal Party, and following a leadership challenge by Tony Abbott on 1 December, Turnbull lost the leadership by one vote.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Political career
- 4 Published works
- 5 Personal life
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Malcolm Turnbull was born on 24 October 1954 to Bruce Bligh Turnbull and Coral Magnolia Lansbury. His father was a hotel broker; his mother was a radio actor, writer and academic and a cousin of the British film and television actor Angela Lansbury. They separated when Malcolm was nine, with Turnbull's mother leaving for first New Zealand and then the United States. Malcolm was then raised by his father.
Turnbull spent his first three years of school at Vaucluse Public School before he continued his primary education at the former Randwick campus of Sydney Grammar Prep. He then attended Sydney Grammar School's senior school at College Street in Sydney on a partial scholarship. He was senior school co-captain in 1972, as well as winning the Lawrence Campbell Oratory Competition. Contrary to certain sources, although certainly a formidable student, particularly in the literary subjects such as English and history, Turnbull was not the dux of his graduating year at Sydney Grammar; instead, the dux of the class of 1972 was Prof. James Colebatch, the Head of Neurology at Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney. In 1987, in memory of his late father, he set up the Bruce Turnbull means-tested scholarship at Sydney Grammar, which offers full remission of fees to a student unable to afford them.
In 1973 Turnbull attended the University of Sydney and subsequently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1977 and a Bachelor of Laws in 1978. During his studies, he worked as a political journalist for Nation Review, Radio 2SM and Channel 9 covering state politics.
In 1978, Turnbull won the Rhodes Scholarship and attended Brasenose College, Oxford, where he studied for a Bachelor of Civil Law between 1978 and 1980. While at Oxford, he worked for The Sunday Times as well as contributing to newspapers and magazines in the United States and Australia.
After graduating with honours from Oxford, Turnbull returned to Australia and began working as a barrister. He left the bar in 1983 to become General Counsel and Secretary for Australian Consolidated Press Holdings Group, from 1983 to 1985. During this time he defended Kerry Packer against the "Goanna" allegations made by the Costigan Commission.
In partnership with Bruce McWilliam he established his own law firm, Turnbull McWilliam, in 1986. In that year Turnbull defended Peter Wright, a former MI5 agent, who authored the book Spycatcher, who successfully blocked the British Government's attempts to suppress the book's publication, and Turnbull later wrote a book on the trial. In 1987, he established an investment banking firm, Whitlam Turnbull & Co Ltd, in partnership with Neville Wran (a former Labor Premier of New South Wales) and the former State Bank of New South Wales chief executive, Nicholas Whitlam (son of Gough Whitlam, a former Labor Prime Minister of Australia). Whitlam parted company with the others in 1990, and, from then until 1997, when Turnbull moved to become a managing director and later a partner of Goldman Sachs, the firm operated as Turnbull & Partners Ltd.
Turnbull was also chair of a large Australian Internet Service Provider, OzEmail (1994–99), a director of FTR Holdings Ltd (1995–2004), chair and managing director of Goldman Sachs Australia (1997–2001) and a partner with Goldman Sachs and Co (1998–2001). In the 1990s, Turnbull was chairman of Axiom Forest Resources, which conducted logging in the Solomon Islands under the trading name Silvania Forest Products. The latter's work was described by the Australian International Development Assistance Bureau as a "clear-felling operation", and the then Solomon Islands Prime Minister Solomon Mamaloni reportedly threatened to close it down for "constant breaches of logging practices", according to a critical article in the Solomon Times.
In 1999, Turnbull sold OzEmail to the then-telecommunications giant MCI Worldcom and his stake was reportedly worth nearly A$60 million. In the same year he used his software and investment company FTR Holdings Ltd to take positions in a number of Internet businesses including WebCentral and Chaos.com.
In May 2002, Turnbull appeared before the HIH Insurance royal commission and was questioned on Goldman Sachs' involvement on the possible privatisation of one of the acquisitions of the collapsed insurance company. The Royal Commissioner's Report made no adverse findings against him or Goldman Sachs.
Australian Republican Movement
From 1993 to 2000, Turnbull was the chairman of the Australian Republican Movement. He was an elected delegate at the Australian Constitutional Convention 1998 in Canberra in February. At the Convention, Turnbull cautioned against mixing the roles of President and Prime Minister and ultimately supported the Bi-partisan appointment republican model adopted by the Convention, despite the model having little popular support in the broad electorate. For this reason, he was later considered by many to have betrayed the Australian Republican Movement he claimed to support. Turnbull was active in the unsuccessful 1999 referendum campaign to establish an Australian republic. He published a book on the subject, called Fighting for the Republic. In 2000 Turnbull retired as chairman of the Australian Republican Movement. Turnbull left the board of Ausflag in 1994 after being asked for his resignation and in 2004 joined the Australian National Flag Association.
Early Liberal Party involvement
Turnbull was Federal Treasurer of the Liberal Party and a member of the party's federal and New South Wales executives from 2002 to 2003 and was a director of the Menzies Research Centre, the Liberal Party's research centre.
Election to Parliament
Turnbull first showed interest in entering the Australian Parliament in 1981. He stood for Liberal Party preselection for the seat of Wentworth in the eastern suburbs of Sydney in the 1981 Wentworth by-election; however he was beaten by Peter Coleman. He let his membership of the Liberal Party lapse in the 1980s, and rejoined in late 2000. In 2003, Turnbull announced that he was again seeking a parliamentary seat. In early 2004 he won another hotly contested battle for Wentworth, defeating Peter King, the sitting Liberal member. King stood for the seat at the 2004 election as an independent candidate. As a result, the traditionally safe Liberal electorate was turned into an electoral wildcard, with the contest for the seat becoming a three-person race between Turnbull, King and Labor candidate David Patch. During the campaign, Turnbull spent over A$600,000 on the campaign. The Liberal primary vote fell ten per cent, and Turnbull won on King's preferences.
Howard Government minister
Announcing his cabinet reshuffle on 24 January 2006, the Prime Minister John Howard promoted Turnbull from the backbench to Parliamentary Secretary, with special responsibility for water. In this new capacity he reported directly to the Prime Minister. On 26 September 2006, Howard announced the creation, within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, of the new "Office of Water Resources" to address the problem of drought in Australia. Turnbull was given charge of this office until he was elevated by Howard as Minister for the Environment and Water Resources in January 2007.
In his position as Environment Minister, Turnbull approved a proposed A$1.7&nsbsp;billion Bell Bay Pulp Mill in Tasmania's north, near Launceston. Turnbull's approval of the Bell Bay Pulp Mill project of Gunns Ltd came on 4 October 2007 and followed a report by the Government's chief scientist Jim Peacock on the project's potential environmental impact, which requires the project to meet 48 "strict environmental" conditions.
In February 2007, Turnbull was criticised for claiming a government allowance of A$175 a night and paying it to his wife as rent while living in a townhouse owned by her in Canberra.
During the 2007 election campaign, Turnbull announced that the then Government would contribute A$10 million to the investigation of an untried Russian technology that aims to trigger rainfall from the atmosphere, even when there are no clouds. Literature suggests that the technology is based on bogus[weasel words] science. The Australian Rain Corporation presented research documents written in Russian, explained by a Russian researcher who spoke to local experts in Russian. Although Turnbull claimed that Australian Rain Corporation was Australian-based, investigations revealed that it was 75 per cent Swiss-owned. It was also revealed that a prominent stakeholder in the Australian Rain Corporation, Matt Handbury, is a nephew of Rupert Murdoch. Turnbull has refused to answer questions regarding Handbury's contribution to the Wentworth Forum, the main fund-raising organisation for Turnbull's 2007 election campaign.
In 2007, Turnbull promised that his government, if elected, would grant same-sex couples death benefits in Commonwealth superannuation schemes, a promise similar to one made three years earlier, during the 2004 federal election campaign.
Turnbull retained his seat at the 2007 election gaining a two-party 1.3-point swing in Wentworth, despite a 5.6-point swing away from the coalition in the state, and a 5.4-point swing nationwide.
Prime Minister Howard had lost his own seat of Bennelong, and on 25 November 2007, Liberal deputy leader Peter Costello announced he would not seek the party leadership. Turnbull declared his candidacy later the same day, and was considered a favourite by many. He lost to Brendan Nelson, in a 45 to 42 vote. Nelson in turn appointed him Shadow Treasurer.
Shortly afterwards, fellow opposition front bencher Nick Minchin suggested that Turnbull's failure to consult with party colleagues before declaring his opinion to the media on such issues as an apology to the Stolen Generations cost him the leadership. This led to a disagreement between the two and culminated in Minchin privately telling Turnbull that he was "too f***ing sensitive".
Leader of the Opposition
On 16 September 2008, Turnbull was elected party leader by 45 votes to 41. The same month, he confessed that he had smoked marijuana in his younger days, becoming the first Liberal leader to make such an admission. He said he now thought it was a very bad idea because the drug could be damaging. In early 2009 Turnbull appointed Chris Kenny, a former Downer staffer and Advertiser journalist, as his chief of staff.
In May 2009, Turnbull attacked the 2009 Australian federal budget, in particular the means testing of the private health insurance rebate. The following month, Godwin Grech, a Treasury official, alleged that a car dealer with links to the Labor Party had received preferential treatment under the Ozcar program, sparking the 'OzCar affair'. That day Turnbull stated that Prime Minister Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan had "used their offices and taxpayers' resources to seek advantage for one of their mates and then lied about it to the Parliament" and that they needed to explain their actions or resign. On 22 June the e-mail Grech had provided to the Liberal Party to support this allegation was found to have been faked by Grech; later admitted by Grech, and an Australian National Audit Office inquiry on 4 August cleared both Rudd and Swan of any wrongdoing. Turnbull's handling of the OzCar affair led to a large decline in his and the Liberal Party's approval ratings in opinion polls.
On 24 November 2009 a party room meeting was held to discuss the Rudd government's proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). Turnbull instructed the party to support CPRS despite significant disagreement among his colleagues. There was even a suggestion that some Liberal Senators should vote to "guillotine" debate and force an immediate Senate vote on the CPRS bill. (If the Senate rejected the bill, this would have given the government a double dissolution trigger.) In response the next day, MPs Wilson Tuckey and Dennis Jensen made a "spill motion" (for a party leadership vote), but it was defeated by 48 votes to 35. The rebellion continued, though – many front bench Liberals resigned from the shadow cabinet, including Tony Abbott.
After the leadership vote, Turnbull said he would serve out his full term as member for Wentworth. On 6 April 2010, he announced he would not seek re-election. However, on 1 May 2010 he reversed his decision.
At the 2010 federal election, Turnbull was re-elected with a swing of over 11% and was subsequently brought back to the front bench as shadow communications minister. At the 2012 Alfred Deakin Lecture on digital liberty he spoke out strongly against the Australian government's proposed two-year data retention law.
In July 2012, Turnbull was criticised for saying that civil unions should be accepted as a first step towards full same-sex marriage rights. Turnbull also supports gay marriage and a conscience vote for Coalition MP's on the issue. However, Tony Abbott did not allow a conscience vote on the issue. Turnbull said that countries that have legalised gay marriage such as The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Norway, and Canada first had civil unions.
On Tuesday 9 April 2013 Malcolm Turnbull along with Tony Abbott announced his alternative National Broadband Network (NBN) plan. The new plan is a modified and scaled-down NBN with "fibre to the node" (FTTN) then last-mile by copper cable. The new policy developed by Turnbull reversed the previous Liberal Party position, which had called for the dismantling of the NBN should the Liberal Party win the 2013 federal election. As such, the policy will allow the NBN to continue irrespective of the result so the election, although it may do so in a different form from what is currently being built. In 2014, Turnbull announced that the Vertigan Report, a cost-benefit analysis of providing fast broadband to regional and rural Australia through wireless and satellite services, revealed that it will cost nearly A$5 billion and was expected to produce only A$600 million in economic benefits – a return of just 10 per cent. In spite of the economic cost, Turnbull stated that subsidising broadband to regional areas is "fiendishly expensive" but said there was no other option. Turnbull brokered a deal between the government, NBN Co and Telstra in December 2014 whereby NBN Co acquired Telstra's copper network and hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) which shall be used to deliver the NBN. Further, Telstra and NBN Co are to work together on the FTTN trial which involves 200,000 premises.
Turnbull has written several books in relation to his contributions to the republican debate, as well as his experiences during the Spycatcher trial. Notable examples of his writings include:
- The Spycatcher Trial, 1988, ISBN 978-0-85561-239-9;
- The Reluctant Republic, 1993, ISBN 978-0-85561-372-3, with the foreword written by Robert Hughes, his wife's uncle; and
- Fighting for the Republic: the Ultimate Insider's Account, 1999, ISBN 978-1-86498-107-0.
Turnbull is married to prominent businesswoman and former Lord Mayor of Sydney Lucy Turnbull AO, née Hughes. They were married on 22 March 1980 at Cumnor, Oxfordshire, near Oxford by a Church of England priest while Turnbull was attending the University of Oxford. They and their two children, Alex and Daisy, live in Sydney.
The use of Bligh as a male middle name is a tradition in the Turnbull family. It is Turnbull's middle name as well as that of his son. One of Turnbull's ancestors was colonist John Turnbull, who named his youngest son William Bligh Turnbull in honour of deposed Governor William Bligh at the time of the Rum Rebellion.
Turnbull and wife Lucy became grandparents in September 2013, when their daughter Daisy gave birth to a boy named Jack Alexander Turnbull-Brown. Turnbull announced the safe arrival on Twitter.
Although Turnbull is a convert to Roman Catholicism from Presbyterianism, he has found himself at odds with the church's teaching on abortion, stem cell research and same-sex marriage. Turnbull supported legislation relaxing restrictions on abortion pill RU486 and he also voted for the legalisation of somatic cell nuclear transfer (therapeutic cloning). He did so despite the vocal public opposition to both proposals by Cardinal George Pell, at the time, the Archbishop of Sydney.
In 2005, the combined net worth of Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull was estimated at A$133 million, making him Australia's richest parliamentarian until the election of billionaire Clive Palmer in the 2013 elections.
The 2009 annual BRW list of the richest Australians (the BRW Rich 200) put Turnbull at 182 of 200, with an estimated net worth of A$178 million. He is the only Member of Parliament in Australia to make the list. Turnbull made the BRW Rich 200 list for the second year running in 2010, and although he slipped from 182 to 197, his estimated net worth increased to A$186 million, and he continued to be the only sitting politician to make the list. Turnbull was not listed in the 2014 list of the BRW Rich 200.
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|Parliament of Australia|
|Member of Parliament for Wentworth
|Minister for the Environment and Water
|Shadow Treasurer of Australia
|Leader of the Opposition
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|Chairman of the Australian Republican Movement