Politics

Eight things you need to know about Malcolm Turnbull

Broede Carmody /

Malcolm Turnbull is due to be sworn in as Australia’s 29th prime minister after a long career in the public eye.

The former communications minister was a journalist and investment banker before moving onto politics.

But what can we expect from the new Liberal leader based on his background and recent statements?

SmartCompany has rounded up eight things you need to know about the prime minister-elect.

 

1. He’s a very wealthy man

Turnbull made his wealth through a number of strategic business and property investments in the 1990s.

He turned a $450,000 investment in internet service provider OzEmail into almost $60 million in cash by 1999. Turnbull had founded OzEmail with his wife Lucy Turnbull, Sean Howard and Trevor Kennedy five years earlier.

Eleven years later, Turnbull made it onto the 2010 BRW Rich List with an estimated wealth of more than $170 million.

 

2. Turnbull has the ear of business leaders

Many prominent founders and chief executives have told SmartCompany Turnbull’s past life as an investment banker gives them confidence that he is the right man to reform the Australian economy.

For example, RedBalloon founding director and Shark Tank investor Naomi Simson says Turnbull is using “all the right words” when he talks of inclusion, diversity, culture and values.

“He’s really clear about the investment we need to make in our intellectual assets,” Simson says.

“These are the words of business leaders. For the first time in a long time I understand what someone from Canberra is saying.”

 

3.  He was raised by his Dad

Turnbull’s parents separated when he was nine years old and his mother moved overseas leaving him to be raised by his father, Bruce Turnbull.

“Looking back, she treated him terribly. We were left with nowhere to live, she took all the furniture and it was pretty bad,” he previously told GQ.

“Bruce never ever said a bad word about it to me. Dad was incredible. He was absolutely determined I would have a strong relationship with my mother.”

 

4. Turnbull is a fan of technological disruption

Turnbull is renowned for his love of technology startups and their ability to create jobs and transform the Australian economy.

The prime minister-elect has spoken at a number of tech startup events in recent years, particularly in Sydney.

Turnbull flagged future tech-friendly policies when he used the words “agile” and “innovation” shortly after taking the Liberal leadership.

“We can’t future-proof ourselves,” Turnbull said after winning the leadership ballot.

“We have to recognise that the disruption that we see driven by technology… is our friend if we are agile and smart enough to take advantage of it.”

 

5. He’s very well connected and well married

Turnbull has been married to his wife, Lucy, for 35 years.

Lucy Turnbull is a political and business heavyweight in her own right, having been the mayor of Sydney and currently on the board of more than 20 companies and not-for-profits, including the Grattan Institute and the Cancer Institute NSW.

Expect these connections to feed into the new prime minister’s policy announcements and leadership more broadly.

 

6. New Zealand’s prime minister is an inspiration

During his media address after winning the leadership ballot, Turnbull said he admired the leadership style of New Zealand prime minister John Key and his ability to explain complex economic issues.

“John Key has been able to achieve very significant economic reforms in New Zealand by doing just that, by explaining complex issues and then making the case for them,” Turnbull said.

“That is certainly something that I believe we should do… and Julie [Bishop] and I are very keen to do that.”

 

7. Cabinet will operate in a more “collaborative” manner under his leadership

Turnbull has indicated his leadership style will be more collaborative than Tony Abbott’s.

“The Liberal Party is the largest, most diverse grassroots political organisation in Australia,” Turnbull said.

“Our party room is remarkably diverse both in terms of people’s life experience, their former occupations and their views on many issues. This is why a culture of engagement, of consultation, of collaboration is absolutely critical.”

“That is how Cabinet governments and parliamentary systems are meant to operate,” Turnbull added.

 

8. There could be further leadership rumblings

Turnbull only won the Liberal leadership ballot by 10 votes.

This means if just 11 people change their mind about Turnbull before the next election is called, businesses could face further uncertainty.

Kate Carnell, chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, yesterday told SmartCompanythe last thing the market wants to see if further instability in Canberra.

“What we need the Liberal Party to do is resolve this leadership turmoil once and for all,” Carnell said.

“For business to grow and employ, it needs confidence. Confidence has been lacking.” 

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Broede Carmody

Broede Carmody is a former senior SmartCompany reporter. Before this, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.