It’s hard to get inspired about politics these days. With the guarantee of a Federal election within four months the idea that we will elect the next great Australian statesman – a Menzies, Whitlam, Keating or Howard – seems laughable. The removal of the highly unpopular Julia Gillard has returned us to the eerily familiar daily announcements and stilted sound bites of Kevin Rudd. And while the polls seem temporarily impressed – putting Rudd on equal footing with the somewhat disconcerting and disappointing Tony Abbott – the punters are still left feeling flat. Is this the best Australia’s got? Is there nobody we would prefer to lead us?
If the commentators and the polls are anything to go by, Australians do care about who leads their country and they know exactly who they want as their next Prime Minister. Malcolm Turnbull.
Turnbull’s resume casts a dark shadow over his parliamentary colleagues. As an only child raised in a small flat by his single father, Bruce, Malcolm gained a scholarship to the prestigious Sydney Grammar where he captained the debating team and duxed his final year. He worked his way through Sydney University as a successful journalist and won a Rhodes Scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford, where he took an advanced law degree. Following Oxford he tried his hand as a barrister but was quickly snapped up as the General Legal Council for Kerry Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings – at the age of 28.
Within five years he had created his own law firm and beaten the British Government in the infamous Spycatcher case (on which he later wrote a book). Presumably bored with the law, Turnbull turned his hand to investment banking, starting his own firm, Whitlam Turnbull & Co, in his early thirties. Within a decade he was a managing director and later partner at Goldman Sachs.
Although he didn’t invent it, he pretty much brought the Internet to Australia. He chaired one of the country’s first Internet Service Providers, OzEmail, later selling his share for over $50 million. He also ran (and lost) Australia’s campaign to become a republic. This was all before he joined the House of Representatives as the member for Wentworth in 2004 at the ripe age of fifty. Not bad really.
The chances of a Turnbull return before the election are slim. It would require Parliament to sit, which seems unlikely. It would need his Liberal colleagues to actively remove Abbott, even less likely. But it’s what the people want. If it worked for Kevin it could work for Malcolm. It would be the election the public are after: the two most popular (and richest) leaders in the country going head to head in a battle of ideals and ideas. I know who’d have my vote. #RETURNBULL