- Malcolm Turnbull
31st Leader of the Opposition In office
16 September 2008 – 1 December 2009
Deputy Julie Bishop Preceded by Brendan Nelson Succeeded by Tony Abbott 20th Minister for the Environment and Water Resources In office
23 January 2007 – 3 December 2007
Preceded by Ian Campbell Succeeded by Peter Garrett & Penny Wong Shadow Treasurer In office
3 December 2007 – 16 September 2008
Preceded by Wayne Swan Succeeded by Julie Bishop Member of the Australian Parliament
Incumbent Assumed office
9 October 2004
Preceded by Peter King Majority 14.86% Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband Incumbent Assumed office
14 September 2010
Preceded by Tony Smith Personal details Born 24 October 1954
Political party Liberal Party of Australia Spouse(s) Lucy Turnbull née Hughes Children 2 Alma mater University of Sydney
University of Oxford
Religion Roman Catholic Website MalcolmTurnbull.com.au
Malcolm Bligh Turnbull (born 24 October 1954) is an Australian politician. He has been a member of the Australian House of Representatives since 2004, and was Leader of the Opposition and parliamentary leader of the Liberal Party from 16 September 2008 to 1 December 2009.
Turnbull has represented the Division of Wentworth in Sydney's eastern suburbs since his election in October 2004. He served as the federal Minister for Environment and Water Resources in 2007. Before entering parliamentary politics he practised as a journalist, barrister, company legal counsel, and merchant banker, and was leader of the Australian Republican Movement.
In September 2008, Turnbull was chosen Liberal Party leader and Leader of the Opposition. He served for a little over a year. In November 2009, he ordered the Liberal Party to support the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme proposed by the Labor government. This prompted substantial opposition in the party, and Turnbull was voted out of his leadership post on 1 December.
In April 2010 Turnbull announced his retirement, but changed his mind a month later.
Turnbull was born on 24 October 1954 to Bruce Turnbull and Coral Lansbury, who married the following year. 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 and he was brought up by his father. He spent his first three years of school at Vaucluse Public School. He continued his primary education at the private fee paying Sydney Grammar Prep, St Ives. He then went to Sydney Grammar School's senior school at College Street in Sydney. He was senior school co-captain in 1972. 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.
Turnbull graduated from the University of Sydney with a double degree in law and arts. He then studied law at Brasenose College, a constituent college of the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar from 1978 to 1980. He studied for a Bachelor of Civil Law degree while at Oxford and then returned to Australia. While at university in Sydney he worked as a political journalist for Nation Review, Radio 2SM and Channel 9 covering state politics. While at Oxford he worked for The Sunday Times as well as contributing to newspapers and magazines in the United States and Australia. He married Lucy Hughes in 1980 at Cumnor, near Oxford, while he was studying at Oxford University. He and Lucy returned to Australia later that year when he was admitted to the bar. Turnbull left the bar in 1983 to become the General Counsel for Consolidated Press Holdings Limited, the Packer family's media group. He rose to the public's attention as the successful advocate in the Spycatcher trial (he blocked the British Government's attempts to suppress the memoirs of a former MI5 agent), and later wrote a book on the trial.
Turnbull was General Counsel and Secretary for Australian Consolidated Press Holdings Group, the family company of Kerry Packer, from 1983 to 1985. During this time he defended 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 and in that year successfully defended Peter Wright in his battle with the British Government over his book Spycatcher. In 1987, he established an investment banking firm, Whitlam Turnbull & Co Ltd in partnership with Neville Wran (former Labor Premier of New South Wales) and the former State Bank of New South Wales chief executive, Nicholas Whitlam (son of Gough Whitlam, 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 Australia 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 Aid 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. Turnbull's 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 2005 his net worth was estimated at $133 million, making him Australia's richest parliamentarian. The 2009 annual BRW list of the richest Australians put Turnbull at 182 of 200, with an estimated net worth of $178 million. He is the only MP in Australia to make the list. Malcolm 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 $186 million, continuing to be the only sitting politician to make the list.
In May 2002, Turnbull appeared before the HIH 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.
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 also a director of the Menzies Research Centre, the Liberal Party's research centre.
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. 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.
Turnbull first ran for Liberal Party preselection for the seat of Wentworth in the eastern suburbs of Sydney in the Wentworth 1981 by-election, but was beaten by Peter Coleman. In 2003, Turnbull announced that he was seeking a seat in Federal Parliament. In early 2004 he won another hotly contested battle for Wentworth, defeating Peter King, the sitting Liberal member. King ran for the seat at the 2004 election as an independent. This turned the traditionally safe Liberal electorate into an electoral wildcard, the contest for the seat becoming a three man race between Turnbull, King and Labor candidate David Patch. During the campaign, Turnbull spent over $600,000 on electoral expenditure. The Liberal vote fell 10 per cent, but Turnbull still won.
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, John Howard announced the creation, within the department of the Prime Minister, of the new "Office of Water Resources" to address the problem of drought in Australia. Turnbull was in charge of this office until he was elevated by Prime Minister John Howard to head the Environment and Water Resources portfolio in January 2007.
In his position as Environment Minister, Turnbull approved a proposed $1.7 billion Bell Bay Pulp Mill in Tasmania's north, near Launceston. His final approval of the Bell Bay Pulp Mill project of Gunns Ltd came on 4 October 2007. Turnbull's approval 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. Critics have accused him of failing to assess the environmental cost of the mill in terms of forest destruction and greenhouse emissions. According to The Wilderness Society, the Pulp Mill will, amongst a number of other toxic emissions, increase Australia's yearly contribution to greenhouse gas emission by more than 2 per cent. This reportedly amounts to an extra 10 million tonnes of greenhouse gas a year
In February 2007, Turnbull was criticised for claiming a government allowance of $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 $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 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 is Australian-based, investigations have shown that it is in fact 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 Matt 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 similar promise to which was made three years prior during the 2004 Federal election campaign.
Turnbull retained his seat at the 2007 election gaining a two-party 1.3 per cent swing in Wentworth, despite a 5.6 per cent swing away from the coalition in the state, and a 5.4 per cent 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.
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
Nelson was not a successful party leader. On 16 September 2008, Turnbull was elected party leader by 45 votes to 41.
In May 2009, Turnbull attacked the 2009 Australian federal budget, in particular the means testing of the private health insurance rebate.
On 19 June 2009 Treasury official Godwin Grech alleged that a car dealer with links to the Labor Party had received preferential treatment under the Ozcar program, sparking the so-called '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, something he later admitted, and an Australian National Audit Office inquiry cleared both Rudd and Swan of any wrongdoing on 4 August. Turnbull's handing 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 give 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.
On 1 December 2009, a spill motion was carried. Turnbull lost the subsequent leadership election to Abbott by 42 votes to 41 on the second ballot.
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.
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); The Reluctant Republic (1993; foreword by Robert Hughes, his wife's uncle); and Fighting for the Republic: the Ultimate Insider's Account (1999).
Although Turnbull is a convert to Roman Catholicism, he has found himself at odds with the church's teaching on abortion and stem cell research. 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, Archbishop of 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, Alex. 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.
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Parliament of Australia Preceded by
Member for Wentworth
Incumbent Political offices Preceded by
as Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources
as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts
as Minister for Climate Change and Water
Leader of the Opposition of Australia
Party political offices Preceded by
Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia
Federal Parliamentary Leaders of the Liberal Party of Australia Current Members of the Australian House of Representatives from New South Wales LaborAnthony Albanese · Sharon Bird · Chris Bowen · David Bradbury · Tony Burke · Jason Clare · Greg Combet · Justine Elliot · Laurie Ferguson · Joel Fitzgibbon · Peter Garrett · Sharon Grierson · Jill Hall · Chris Hayes · Ed Husic · Stephen Jones · Mike Kelly · Robert McClelland · Daryl Melham · John Murphy · Deborah O'Neill · Julie Owens · Tanya Plibersek · Michelle Rowland · Janelle Saffin · Craig Thomson Liberal Nationals Independent
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