Malcolm Turnbull became Australia’s 29th Prime Minister in September 2015, when he defeated Tony Abbott in a leadership challenge, 54 votes to 44. He was elected Prime Minister of Australia after narrowly leading the Coalition to victory at the July 2016 Federal Election.
In May 2016, Turnbull instigated the first double dissolution election in almost 30 years when he requested the Governor-General dissolve both houses of Parliament so a Federal Election could be held on 2 July 2016. Turnbull’s actions were prompted by the blocking of two pieces of industrial relations legislation by the Senate that were central to the Government’s agenda. Turnbull said the Government would seek a mandate to pass the two bills, which are designed to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and place stronger regulations on union officials, triggering a 54-day election campaign; one of the longest general election campaigns since 1984.
Turnbull was first elected to the House of Representatives as the Member for Wentworth in 2004. Shortly after entering Parliament, he became Parliamentary Secretary to then Prime Minister John Howard. Turnbull was later promoted to Cabinet as Minister for Environment and Water Resources in 2007, shortly before the Coalition lost office at the general election later that year. Under Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson, Turnbull was appointed Shadow Treasurer; a position held until he replaced Dr Nelson as Leader of the Opposition in September 2008.
In December 2009, Turnbull lost the Opposition leadership by one vote to Tony Abbott which occurred following disagreement within the Coalition over Turnbull’s support for an emissions trading scheme. Turnbull then returned to the backbench where he remained until after the 2010 Federal Election and appointed Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband. Following the Coalition’s return to Government at the 2013 Federal Election, Turnbull served as Minister for Communications in the Abbott Government from 2013 until being sworn in as Prime Minister in September 2015.
His inner metropolitan Sydney electorate of Wentworth is one of the smallest by geographic size in Australia. Located in Sydney’s east, it encompasses some of Sydney’s most affluent suburbs, including Vaucluse, Bellevue Hill, Point Piper and the beachside suburbs of Bondi and Clovelly. Wentworth has consistently been considered a safe non-Labor electorate and in 2010, experienced one of the largest swings toward the Liberal Party in the country.
Personal information and interests
Turnbull graduated from Sydney University with a Bachelor of Laws. While undertaking his studies – and for a period thereafter – he worked as a journalist covering NSW politics for Nation Review, Radio 2SM and Channel 9, as well as the London Sunday Times. In 1978, he won a Rhodes Scholarship and studied Civil Law at the University of Oxford’s Brasenose College.
In 1980, Turnbull returned to Australia and was admitted to the Bar. A short time later, he became General Counsel for the Packer media group, Consolidated Press Holdings. He then founded his own law firm, Turnbull McWilliam, and rose to public prominence during the ‘Spycatcher’ trial, where he successfully argued against the British Government’s attempts to suppress the memoirs of a former MI5 agent.
In 1987, Turnbull founded his own investment bank, Whitlam Turnbull & Co (later Turnbull & Partners), with former NSW Labor Premier Neville Wran and Nicholas Whitlam, previous Chief Executive of the State Bank of NSW and son of former Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. In the mid-late 90s, Turnbull held a number of positions, including Chair of the Australian Republican Movement, Chairman of OzEmail Ltd, Director of FTR Holdings Ltd, Chairman and Managing Director of Goldman Sachs Australia, and member of the National Advisory Committee on Ageing. Turnbull was also a director of the Menzies Research Centre immediately prior to entering Parliament.
Turnbull has authored several books, including The Spycatcher Trial, The Reluctant Republic, and Fighting for the Republic: the Ultimate Insider’s Account. In 2003, he was awarded the Centenary Medal for services to the corporate sector.
Turnbull is married to the Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission and former Lord Mayor of Sydney Lucy Hughes Turnbull. They have two adult children, Alex and Daisy, and two grandchildren.