Malcolm Turnbull and wife Lucy.
Malcolm Turnbull and wife Lucy. Photo from Facebook

From ‘likeable rascal’ to PM: Who is Malcolm Turnbull?

THE man leading Australia into the next election has led a life punctuated by ambition and success, but he is not quite the silver spoon by-product many believe him to be.

Malcolm Turnbull's parents separated when he was nine, his radio scriptwriter mother packing up and moving to New Zealand.

His hotel broker father raised him as a single parent and got him into the elite Sydney Grammar School on a partial scholarship.

The boy excelled academically and went on to become a Rhodes scholar after completing a degree in arts and law in Australia.

His ambition was evident at age 25, when his Rhodes House report card described him as a "likable rascal".

"He has begun to find his level and to stretch his ability. This has dented his arrogance usefully, but I expect it will bounce back," it read.

MORE: Turnbull needs to walk fine line as new PM

Even at 21, he told friends he aspired to become Prime Minister before he turned 40.

His professional resume is perhaps the most impressive of any Australian politician.

He worked as a journalist on the same newspaper as a young Abbott and then as a lawyer.

He found international fame when he represented former MI5 spy Peter Wright against the UK Government and won him the right to publish his autobiography.

Turnbull also represented media magnate Kerry Packer in the Costigan Commission of the 1980s when, under the codename "Goanna", Packer was falsely accused of having made his fortune from drug trafficking and other organised crime.

Jobs as investment banker and venture capitalist round out his curriculum vitae, and he was an investor and chairman of one of Australia's first internet providers, OzEmail.

He bought his stake in the company for $500,000 and sold it five years later for $57 million.

But the boy from Wentworth still had his heart set on politics.

His first bid at election in 1981 - a year after marrying his wife - was a fizzer, and he did not run again until 2004.

He won preselection against sitting Liberal member Peter King, who later claimed Turnbull had told him to "f*** off and get out of my way".

The political journey has not been all clear sailing.

Turnbull took the opposition's leadership reins from Brendan Nelson less than a year after the Howard government lost power in 2007.

He began to lose his party's support over the Utegate scandal in which he wrongly accused Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of giving preferential treatment to a dealer who donated a vehicle to his election campaign.

The supposedly "leaked" emails proved false and Turnbull lost a leadership spill vote to Abbott by a single vote after supporting the controversial emissions trading scheme in 2009.

Turnbull planned to retire from politics but decided to hang on at the request of former Prime Minister John Howard.

He fell to the backbench but gradually clawed his way back to the communications minister post.

It was no mean feat for a staunch republican, climate change believer and supporter of gay marriage under the conservative Abbott government.

The past year has been fraught with innuendo about Turnbull again taking another bite at government's top spot.

After one aborted coup already in 2015, his success story has finally reached a zenith.

He did not quite make Prime Minister by 40 as he had hoped, but 60 is not bad either.


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