My impressions of Malcolm Turnbull is a lot like the kind of political leader written about by the Italian philosopher and poet Niccolò Machiavelli. Machiavelli wrote a book called “The Prince” (1532), which was basically a “how to” guide for rulers, about gaining and keeping power.
According to Machiavelli’s popular and controversial theory, being a successful leader has nothing to do with being a nice person or doing the right thing. Instead, it’s about being inventive, manipulative, charismatic, crafty, and willful. Machiavelli said that rulers should appear good to the public, but shouldn’t be above doing some pretty bad stuff in private.
There you have it.
First, we all take as a ‘given’ that Malcolm is very smart, articulate and highly strategic. A lawyer who turned to merchant banking (with the help of a few rich friends), made a lot of money investing on the ground floor of Ozemail and then turned to politics.
I was aware of his ‘antics’ when he was in charge of Goldman Sachs Australia (GSA) and as advisor to Rodney Adler’s FAI in the takeover of HIH Insurance Ltd Group, which collapsed shortly thereafter. I say antics on the basis that in finance, one knows his client, whether he be good bad or indifferent. (1)
In a takeover situation like in HIH, you must know the ‘ins and outs of your clients’ arsehole’, as you could end up with egg on your face and serious losses. Anyway to cut a long story short, the liquidator Tony McGrath ‘smelt a rat’ and indeed the rat was Malcolm Turnbull and his employer, GSA for there involvement with the takeover and subsequent $529million lost in the HIH collapse.
The case against Turnbull rested on whether he knew FAI was worth less than the books showed and whether he endorsed his friend Rodney Adler’s takeover of the company. Adler had hired Turnbull and GSA, as advisors on the proposed takeover of FAI for a $1.5m success fee. The liquidators argued in the NSW Supreme Court that the parties knew the company was overvalued, which it was, as the company FAI did not even have proper accounting records.(2)
Now this was when our Machiavelli Turnbull, who was in charge of GSA, since then he has spent a lot of his own monies securing a blue ribbon seat of Wentworth in NSW, to become a politician. This meant that GSA had to undertake a “confidential settlement” on Malcolm’s behalf, to save his hide in the lawsuit and in so doing, is most likely the single greatest incentive driving Malcolm Turnbull’s political career.
As Goldman Sachs so aptly enjoy having prior employees in Government, one must view his and their actions on this basis.(3)
Take this background and then the episode of Turnbull’s support, as opposition leader and against his parties wishes, to the introduction of the Emissions Trading Scheme, Carbon Credits, Carbon Bank or, as his own colleagues called it incorrectly, the Carbon Tax.
It is insulting that even his own members of Parliament (in particular Mr Greg Hunt) allowed this trading scheme to gather momentum. It was from my point of view, a clear conflict of interest and corruption of democracy, by the Machiavellian Turnbull in that his associations and obligations to GSA were never questioned.
A prime driver (and evidence of the conflict) in even making the Australian Media aware of the connection was the original report by Ross Garnaut stating a need for a Carbon Bank, then this on Bloomberg News on 17 May 2011,
“Death Derivatives Emerge From Pension Risks of Living Too Long
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), which bundled and sold billions of dollars of mortgage loans, now want to help investors bet on people’s deaths.
Pension funds sitting on more than $23 trillion of assets are buying insurance against the risk their members live longer than expected. Banks are looking to earn fees from packaging that risk into bonds and other securities to sell to investors.” (4)
Needless to say Ross Garnaut’s report was commissioned for the Labor / Green coalition, however the actions by Malcolm Turnbull leave a really bad taste in my mouth about democracy, ballots within the liberal party, branch stacking and buying votes.
As for Ross Garnaut, he himself has written a lot of Government Reports, as he listens to what the then Government wants from a report, then constructs his report appropriately. He is, if anything, a dangerous person to be writing any report, to any Government about taxation and carbon pricing impacts on any society.
But I digress, I am discussing Malcolm Turnbull…… A lawyer, that is disturbing in itself. A lawyer that is an opportunist, self centered and left of centre ideologue.
Why is this disturbing?
Politicians who are lawyers, know nothing of the economy, nor of how to run a business. In fact lawyers generally cannot operate a practice without charging out for every minute, including lunches at a cost designated to the ‘client’. Any client, usually those clients that they are doing work for. If one audits a lawyers time sheets (as I have had the privilege to do on a number of occasions) they do not balance and look as though they have no free time. They need office managers, staff and accountants more so than any other professional.
When one looks at economics, lawyers do not realize that it is not a zero sum game, and often the best path, regardless of one’s normative biases, is counterintuitive, especially for those trained in zero sum thinking.
This explains why Turnbull promises “to stick it to the offshore corporations” (I’m paraphrasing, although I wouldn’t be surprised if that was verbatim), despite the fact that the people most hurt by corporate taxation, in the long run, are workers. Not to mention the fact that zero profits equals zero employees, a concept I suspect he hasn’t thought of, but is open to con people into believing.
* he has his eye on the revenues collected by multinational online ad platforms like Google.(5)
* then he states at the Lowy Institute, ‘but we can’t tie down the relationship between debt and spending.’
* and best of all is that some corporations are not paying all the taxes they should.(6)
I am totally against direct / income taxation on the individual and have commented about this on past posts to this blog, income tax in itself is servitude to the State.
In dumping Turnbull in 2009, it was the Liberal base that was listened to, rather than the ALP to which the party under Turnbull was in danger of selling out to.
Politically, his stint in the leadership was a disaster, with the “Utegate” affair, revealing a dangerous penchant to shoot first and worry about details later; that the fabricated emails over which Turnbull’s attack on Rudd was based; were unquestioningly adopted as genuine belied a nascent and amateurish regard for detail.
At best, it was careless. At worst, it could have led the party into far more trouble than it did. (7)
Anyway to further delve into our subject Turnbull, as leader the first time, was a political disaster; his idea of “leadership” involved providing “bipartisanship” to the Australian Labor Party (ALP); that all but removed the difference between the Coalition and Labor.
It is no coincidence that many of the measures being pursued by then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd were abandoned after the switch to Mr Abbott in 2009: as measures that the Liberal Party would ordinarily never support, that Turnbull’s leadership had appeared to enable, had been taken off the table, including the Carbon ‘Tax’.(8)
Now through an inept Abbott, we see Turnbull’s Machiavellian movements, as the supposed only alternative. Yes he has the charisma, intelligence, but this does not change what he is.
His shenanigans (for use of a better word) throughout his political career are not just a random bull-in-a-china-shop episode. There was and always a method to the supposed madness. I take this from one of his ex colleagues and friends, Chris Joyce that surprise, surprise, …. “the party, with Malcolm’s prodding, cannibalises itself. The big fella once said to me, You capitalize on chaos.”(9)
Making Turnbull the leader of the party would simply accelerate the process of the demise of the Liberal National coalition at the next election.
The Liberal Party owes Australia sound governance and the ‘means’ through which to redress the consequences of Labor’s shocking ineptitude. Losing an election will not achieve this.
During the problems with Abbott’s leadership this year, SBS reported that “Malcolm Turnbull Caught with Tape Measure in Tony Abbott’s Office”… Mind you at any other time, with anyone else, then one would smile and enjoy the article. Problem is that it was Turnbull, plus he had the audacity to wink and nudge at the reporters….as though it were a joke.
It most probably was, in view of the tension that surrounded the party room spill motion, an opportunistic endeavor to cause chaos. Maybe, only Mr Turnbull would not tell the truth anyway.(10)
It was not so much this action and reporting by SBS, it was a few months further afield a far more onerous situation for one SBS staff reporter, tweeting during ANZAC day, was subsequently sacked. This was instigated through Turnbull’s influence.
It appears that there is no longer freedom of the press.
All Mr McIntyre was doing was expressing his view….who are SBS and Turnbull, for that matter, to decide what is and isn’t an appropriate level of free speech?
Turnbull’s basic view of the matter was that the tweets were “offensive”.
Perhaps they were, perhaps they were not, but that’s the whole point of free speech, is it not?
Mr McIntyre certainly wasn’t rude in his tweets, he just expressed an unpopular opinion.
Not everyone is going to agree with what I, me or you say. All one has to do is read anyone of my articles and someone will be offended, majority…. whilst my opinion, is based on fact.(11)
Yet Turnbull’s hypocrisy is shown that whilst a SBS reporter can be sacked for tweeting personal opinions (as he was a sports commentator, not at work) His own staff are given remedial makeovers for telling other bloggers to fuck off……(12)
Maybe it’s drugs? I jest, it is nice to see though that the written law cannot be avoided by government staff member working for Malcolm Turnbull, an adviser, Stephen John Ellis, 48, was charged on Thursday May 14th, with committing an act of indecency and indecent exposure, and also faced two drug charges. His resignation was announced on Friday afternoon. (13)
More on Turnbull’s hypocrisy in government, there is no more astounding news then when he as Communication Minister, had ordered the National Broadband Network Company (NBN) to go ahead with the controversial ‘Multi-Technology Mix’ option for its broadband rollout, despite the fact that the cost/benefit analysis being conducted into the project then, was not to be ready for another 6 months.
It should be noted that whilst in Opposition, one of the central criticisms which Turnbull levelled at the then Labor Federal Government, was that it had initiated its popular NBN project without conducting a cost/benefit analysis into the project’s fundamental underpinnings. Such cost/benefit analyses are commonly conducted by government agency Infrastructure Australia.
Amazed that he ranted for three years on this subject, how it was appalling that Labor had done the same.(14)
Where is Don Chipp when you need him? To keep the bastards honest….
But I jest, back to the facts on Turnbull…. One could not omit the Fairfax newspapers and the Kerry Packer affair in 1991, the tussle for control of the media, with Conrad Black and Packer as the consortium and Malcolm Turnbull in the middle, as the advisor.
Turnbull had represented Packer previously (Goanna, during a Royal Commission) and Packer subsequently backed Turnbull financially into his initial merchant bank, to the tune of $25 million.
One would have thought that this relationship was borne of trust, not really, as our opportunistic Turnbull lost on a couple of counts, first his friend Trevor Kennedy was sacked as the consortium’s chief executive, then Conrad Black’s lieutenants thought Turnbull wore too many hats.
Turnbull, a protégé of Packer, was keen to signal his independence. The knives were out, Turnbull was then terminated, but in so doing gorged himself on $6.3 million in fees.
One would think that this was the end of this episode, but no, the protégé of Packer then secretly gave Trevor Kennedy’s private notes; of his Packer dealings; to the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal enquiry chairman Peter Westaway. Needless to say Packer withdrew from the consortium.
Nice going Mr Turnbull, in my opinion (and you yourself can gauge from these facts), that Mr Turnbull would not be my best choice to lead anything, not even a scout club meeting. (15)
There is more, Malcolm Turnbull was the key decision maker when he gave a dodgy $10 million grant to his friends, just before the 2007 election while he was still the Environment Minister in the Howard government. This puts Turnbull in the same club as the corrupt Eddie Obeid, Arthur Sinodinos and others.
Obeid is looking at jail time after being charged by the police and Sinodinos had to resign yet some people want to make Turnbull the Prime Minister.
Turnbull authorized a $10 million grant to his friend Matt Handbury and the Australian Rain Corporation,
It says on Mr Turnbull’s Wikipedia profile “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.”(16)
“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 fundraising organisation for Turnbull’s 2007 election campaign.”(17)
Sound a tad dodgy?
Wish a few questions could be handled by Turnbull on this matter… Messrs Obeid and Sinodinos are very, very interested.
The mainstream media have not been reporting Mr Turnbull’s dirty laundry in recent times and one wonders why? …. but you can be guaranteed that the Labor Party will raise it if Turnbull becomes Prime Minister.
Even worse for the liberal party, is that social media will be raising Turnbull’s dirty laundry day in day out until the next federal election.(18)
Then one must look at whose interests Turnbull is protecting in the pirating war. His proposition that the ISP’s report illegal downloads, by users, directly to a regulatory watchdog, with mandatory ‘notices’ then being forwarded to the alleged user, is not warranted. Simple reason is that the ISP is not liable for users downloads under existing legal precedents.(19)
Copyright infringement is a strange beast and the High Court dismissed a previous appeal against the Iinet case. Turnbull however, and his proposal, will mean huge additional costs by the Internet providers and any ‘guidelines’ introduced along his recommendations will mean a problem for all users. Guilty before proven innocent comes to kind…..
Even ‘Choice’ has entered the fray and are intent on wanting to school Turnball on the current piracy laws. Yes, for a lawyer it seems pretty strange and one must bear in mind, that his current stance is totally opposite to that stance made in 2012, about the difficulties that he foresaw in policing this activity and it being cost ineffective.(20)
I would like to join the dots between the nephew of Murdoch receiving a $10 million grant and this about face on the piracy laws. Instead will defer to Michael Wyres blog column in that “Turnbull has flipped his stance, for nothing other than political convenience and the potential and impending signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an agreement feared by many advocates of online freedoms, and which contains many provisions pertaining to copyright.”
If internet providers go down the route of IP address blocks, as financial regulator the Australian Securities and Investments Commission did, when it lawfully asked Australian providers to block financial fraud websites, then thousands of legitimate websites will be blocked.(21)
So for whose benefit now Malcolm?
Now for something Peter would be interested in ‘Terror Australis’ whereby Turnbull commenting on the US / Australia alliance has stated that he “has praise the Pivot (to Asia) as ‘a vitally important stabilising reassuring factor in the peaceful development of our region’.(22)
Well, well kiss the USArse…..
So that means it is not a threat to China nor Indonesia, the use of Darwin as a bomber base, more troops stationed in the Country and most probably nuclear arms. The latter we would not be told about anyway, but I do not think that China is very happy.
Chinese see this as a threat of containment. (23)
Then we have the five eyes spying program and the new legislation for the collection of metadata, something that Turnbull sees as “clear .. and necessary”.(24)
Necessary for whom?
Where are individuals freedom?
Those constituents that voted you into office to serve them……?
Pity we could not say goodbye to Malcolm, to his money, his ideologies, cronyism and self righteousness… but you know, I guess we shouldn’t expect anything less from Malcolm by now ….. right?
His former business and legal colleagues may have their own reasons for disliking him, which are not shared by socialists. One would not disagree with Nicholas Whitlam’s description of him as “a prick”, or former Labor Senator Jim McClelland’s comment that Turnbull is “a turd, easy to loathe and a shit”.(25)
He is for himself, an opportunistic narcissist who one day hopes to be king.
For that he colour’d with his high estate,
Hiding base sin in plaits of majesty;
That nothing in him seem’d inordinate,
Save something too much wonder of his eye,
Which, having all, all could not satisfy;
But, poorly rich, so wanteth in his store,
That, cloy’d with much, he pineth still for more.
The Rape of Lucrece
4. http://barnabyisright.com/2011/05/24/doing-gods-work-turnbull-an-angel-of-death-derivatives/. http://barnabyisright.com/2011/05/19/compassion-for-malcolm-he-just-wants-his-balls-back/