Former Prime Minister of Australia
About the Speaker
Former Prime Minister of Australia, 2015-2018
Malcolm Turnbull’s career spans journalism, law, business and politics.
Malcolm was born in 1954 and grew up in Sydney, Australia and for much of his childhood lived alone with his father Bruce.
While studying at Sydney University, Malcolm worked as a journalist and continued doing so when he studied at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship.
It was during that time at Oxford that Malcolm met and was hired by Harold Evans, the editor of London’s Sunday Times newspaper.
After his time at Oxford, where he married his wife Lucy, Malcolm returned to Australia and practiced law where he quickly established a reputation as an effective advocate, most notably when he successfully defended former MI5 agent Peter Wright against the British Government, in the “Spycatcher” trial.
Malcolm established an investment banking firm in 1987 and during that time specialized in the media and technology sectors. He worked with some of the leading media moguls of the time including Rupert Murdoch, Kerry Packer, Conrad Black and Bob Maxwell and at the same time established a number of new businesses of his own.
He cofounded the first big Australian Internet company, OzEmail Ltd, listing it on the NASDAQ in 1996 and selling it to Worldcom three years later.
Malcolm joined Goldman Sachs in 1997 becoming a partner of the firm the following year and headed their Australian business for four years until he retired to pursue a political career.
He entered the House of Representatives in 2004 and during that time served as Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Minister for Communications and from 2015 to 2018, Prime Minister.
During his time as Prime Minister, Malcolm delivered strong economic growth, record jobs growth and at the same time reduced both corporate and personal income taxes.
In terms of social policy his Government legalized same sex marriage and reformed federal schools funding to be fair, consistent, and needs based across the nation and across school sectors.
He successfully negotiated with President Trump to maintain a refugee resettlement deal he had agreed to with President Obama and to ensure Australia was not hit with tariffs or quotas on its steel and aluminium exports to the US.
When Trump pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, Malcolm refused to allow that 12 nation free trade deal to fall by the wayside and he rallied the remaining eleven countries to commit to a continuing TPP-11. At the same time, resisting the rising tide of protectionism, he also secured free trade agreements with Indonesia, Peru and Singapore.
Throughout his political career Malcolm has been a strong environmental advocate. He designed and delivered the National Plan for Water Security in 2007—a global benchmark for water management. He has supported the rollout of renewable energy and recognized before most the urgent need for large scale storage to make intermittent renewables reliable. He started the construction of the Snowy Hydro 2.0 pumped hydro scheme which will be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and has also identified the opportunity for similar pumped storage systems elsewhere in Australia including in Tasmania.
He radically reformed the way the Australian federal Government deals with states and cities, establishing a series of City Deals where the three levels of Government agree on common goals and then work together to realize them. As part of the Western Sydney City Deal, he commenced the construction of a new Airport for Sydney.
The most important responsibility of any Government is keeping its people safe. During his time as Prime Minister there was not one successful human trafficking expedition to Australia. At the same time he embarked on the largest peace time re-equipment of Australia’s defense forces, a centerpiece of which is 54 ship naval shipbuilding program.
At a time of growing nationalist sentiment across the world, he opposed racism and division at every turn, ensuring that Australia remains the most successful multicultural society in the world.