Examples of Malcolm Turnbull outflanking Labor to the left

Originally published on 30th November, 2015

  • UPDATE [29th Dec, 2016]: Added 5 new items, bringing the total to 13.
  • UPDATE [5th May, 2018]: Added 4 new items, bringing the total to 17.
  • UPDATE [22nd June, 2018]: Added 1 new item, bringing the total to 18.

1. Deeper cuts to CO2 emissions than Labor

In February 2009, as Opposition Leader, Turnbull said he would be even “greener” than Labor by making deeper cuts to emissions (Rudd Labor had committed to cuts of between 5 and 15%). Speaking on ABC radio, Turnbull says:

“…certainly we should cut our emissions by more than what Mr Rudd has proposed and I have set out how we can do that.”

2. Fawning attitude to Communist China

In 2011, Turnbull gave two speeches on the rise of Communist China, a subject well outside his portfolio responsibilities. One in October, at the London School of Economics (which was founded by the far-left, Labor-aligned Fabian Society), and one in November, in Melbourne. Foreign Editor of The Australian, Greg Sheridan, says:

“MALCOLM Turnbull has delivered two important speeches on China that help explain why he was such a disastrous Liberal leader and why he should never be considered for the leadership again… They contradict Liberal Party policy, they contradict Liberal leader Tony Abbott and Liberal foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop, and they show Turnbull as well to the left, not only of his party but of the Gillard government, and indeed of Kevin Rudd.”

Further, Turnbull had previously, as Opposition Leader, equated Australia’s relationship with the United States to our relationship with Communist China, saying both are “allies”. He was denounced by Kevin Rudd, who explained that China is not an ally, a term with specific treaty implications:

“It’s extraordinary that Mr Turnbull equates US and China as allies of Australia…China is a long-term friend of Australia; the US, by contrast, has been, for more than half a century, an ally of Australia. That’s a term which has a specific definition as a military alliance containing reciprocal defence obligations. Australia simply doesn’t have that relationship with China. There are only two possible explanations for Mr Turnbull’s statement – it’s either an extraordinary national security policy blunder by a person without any national security experience, or he is fundamentally redefining Liberal Party alliance policy.”

Turnbull would later, as Prime Minister, cite the late Chinese Communist dictator, revolutionary and mass murderer Mao Zedong as an inspiration.


3. More Restrictive Water Policy

In January 2007 Turnbull was appointed Environment Minister. Using global warming as his justification, he immediately began attacking farmers’ water allocations, announcing his plans for compulsory water “buy-backs” from “inefficient” farms. He was subsequently denounced by both the Victorian National Party and Victorian Labor Premier Steve Bracks, who wanted compulsory water buy-backs completely ruled out.3,4

Turnbull had earlier attacked the Queensland Labor government for allowing farmers to siphon much-needed water from the Murray-Darling to grow food for Australians and for export. He cited “sustainability questions” as the reason, meaning he would prefer the water flow uselessly down the river as “environmental flows”.5

4. Thinks Labor is planning to cut too much

In the lead up to the May budget in 2008, Turnbull, as Shadow Treasurer, opposes Labor’s pro-cuts rhetoric, and says the budget shouldn’t be “scrooge-like”. He justifies his position by spouting a discredited Keynesian economic analysis. He says:

“I don’t think there’s any economic need to cut. If Wayne Swan wanted to make a real impact on inflation he would have to tighten fiscal policy and have the surplus well over two per cent. Now, I don’t think it would be a prudent thing to do at the moment. That’s my judgment.” 6

5. Thinks Labor not doing enough to restrict Executive Salaries

In 2009, as Opposition Leader, Turnbull pushed for government-imposed restrictions on the salaries of private company executives. He attacked the Rudd Labor Government in Question Time, saying they weren’t doing enough restrain these salaries. He also attacked a company, Pacific Brands, for giving executives pay rises whilst sacking workers, saying it was a “poor” decision that “horrified” him.7

6. Shorten goes in harder than Turnbull on Terrorism

On the 2nd of October 2015 a 15-year-old Muhammedan shot and killed Curtis Cheng, an unarmed police civilian finance worker, outside NSW Police headquarters in Sydney.

Malcolm Turnbull, now Prime Minister, went soft on the anti-terror rhetoric. So soft, in fact, that he was outflanked by Labor Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who compared those who brainwashed the boy to paedophiles.

7. Says Labor’s Boat Policy is Cruel

Following Kevin Rudd’s 2013 pre-election switch to a policy of significant action on border protection, Turnbull, in an interview on SBS, denounced Rudd:

“It is a very cruel policy. What Kevin Rudd is proposing is extremely cruel. But all of the policies to deal with the people smuggling problem, are, to some extent, cruel.”

8. Supports Bill Henson, whilst Rudd calls him “Revolting”

In May 2008, following complaints from the public, NSW Police raided a so-called “art exhibition” in the Sydney suburb of Paddington, and confiscated about 20 photographs of naked children. The so-called “artist” responsible for the photos is Bill Henson, a well-known photographer. It was later discovered that Henson had travelled to primary schools to hunt down potential “models” for his “art”.

If you can stomach it, click here to see two examples of Henson’s “work”.

Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described the photographs as “revolting”, but the then Shadow Treasurer Malcolm Turnbull vigorously defended Bill Henson and attacked the police. He said the police should stay out of art galleries, and suggested that naked photos of children should be accepted as part of “artistic freedom”.

9. Abolishing the Lone Pine ANZAC Day Ceremony

In February 2016 it was revealed that the Turnbull Government had abolished the ANZAC Day ceremony at Lone Pine, absurdly citing ‘rough terrain’ in the area. After pressure from the Returned Services League (RSL) and, of all people, Bill Shorten, a compromise was agreed upon.

10. Retrospective superannuation changes

Turnbull’s 2016 budget included retrospective changes to superannuation, breaking previous Coalition commitments. These changes were so radical that they were even opposed by the Bill Shorten-led Labor Party, who strangely found themselves on the same side of the debate as the free-market Institute for Public Affairs.

11. Turnbull says Australia was invaded. Shorten dodges.

12. Removing Immigration Minister from NSC

It is standard practice for Australian governments to include the Immigration Minister in the powerful National Security Committee of Cabinet. It is an acknowledgement of the importance of border protection in maintaining national security, and was even the practice of the leftist Labor Rudd and Gillard Governments.

Upon coming to power in September 2015, Turnbull abolished the Immigration Minister’s position on the National Security Committee. The change was so radical that it was even opposed by the Bill Shorten-led Labor Party, which made a firm commitment to give the Immigration Minister a permanent place on the National Security Committee in a future Labor government.

Shorten said:

“I would’ve thought that if you’re fair dinkum about national security then, of course, you would have your representative in border security sitting regularly, permanently on the National Security Committee of cabinet.”

13. Supporting Syria power-sharing deal with ISIS

In November 2015, Turnbull said the right approach in Syria is a peacefully negotiated power-sharing deal involving compromise between the various warring factions (which include barbarians like ISIS).

This was considered so ridiculous that even Labor’s left-faction leader, Anthony Albanese, opposed it in an interview on Channel 10’s The Bolt Report:

ANDREW BOLT: “Listen, this week, Malcolm Turnbull suggested a ceasefire and a power-sharing deal in Syria that could involve supporters of the Islamic State. Can you see such a peace plan working?”

ANTHONY ALBANESE: “Well, look, absolutely not and it’s an extraordinary thing for Malcolm Turnbull to leave open, such an option. But, again, it’s typical of Malcolm Turnbull. He doesn’t know when to stop talking and make a clear statement. Clearly these people who want to destroy Western civilisation and return to barbarism have no role to play in any civilised arrangements going forward. These people need to be wiped out because what they seek to do is to wipe us and our way of life out. It’s that simple, and Malcolm Turnbull needs to be very clear in his language about that”

14. General economic & social policy

In a February 2017 interview on Sydney radio, former Labor leader Mark Latham demonstrated that the current Liberal-National Coalition government is “far to the left-wing of the Hawke Government in the 1980s”:

“The Hawke Government had many more free-market economic reforms through Peter Walsh and Paul Keating. They were more active in reducing the size of government and bringing down the personal tax rate. And back in the 80s we had no rampant left-wing ABC or SBS. We didn’t have the Human Rights Commission persecuting innocent students at universities in Queensland. We didn’t have ‘Safe Schools’ in the education system. We didn’t have ‘Safe Spaces’ in universities, segregating white people away from black people. We didn’t have any of this cultural Marxism right through our major public institutions…the left-wing push has gone too far. Malcolm Turnbull ticks a lot of it off, and is an advocate of a lot of this stuff…How is it that the Turnbull Government is to the left of Labor from the 1980s? What’s happened to our institutions? What’s happened to the Liberal Party that it now gives in to more government spending, higher taxes, cultural Marxism in our major institutions…Probably the tipping point…Yassmin Abdel-Magied is paid by us, the taxpayers…to be our ambassador in the Middle East promoting multiculturalism…”

15. Increasing Medicare Levy

On the 21st of November 2017 Labor’s shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen was able to hold a press conference opposing personal income tax increases pushed by the Turnbull Government. Bowen said:

“[Turnbull] has legislation before the House…to actually increase personal income tax paid by every Australian. Legislation opposed by the Labor Party…The Medicare Levy increase is just a fancy way of saying that Malcolm Turnbull wants to put up personal income tax…The Medicare Levy increase would see somebody on 55,000 dollars a year paying 275 dollars more a year in tax. Somebody on 80,000 dollars paying 400 dollars more a year on tax.”

Turnbull subsequently abandoned the policy for political reasons.

16. Cutting funding to Catholic schools whilst increasing it to state schools

Prior to 1963 faithful Roman Catholics in Australia had been forced to pay taxes to fund secular state schools they couldn’t use, whilst also having to fund their own schools. The Catholic schools were of far higher quality than state schools, and were kept affordable for the poor. This was achievable due to the charity of nuns, priests and other dedicated volunteers working for the love of God, rather than material gain.

Governments though, imposed an increasing number of costly regulations on these Catholic schools, to the point where the Church had to charge higher fees or close schools. In 1963 the Liberal Party founder, and then Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, realised this was not in the public interest and started funding Catholic schools to a limited degree.This funding arrangement continued, and developed over time such that 70% of Catholic school costs were covered by government (obviously still less than the 100% funding provided to state schools but a vast improvement).

In the 2017 budget, Turnbull announced that this 50-year-old policy would be abolished, and adopted the Gillard Labor Government’s Gonski school-funding policy, stripping money from many low-fee Catholic schools and forcing them to increase school fees by thousands, thus cutting off poorer children from access to these high quality schools.
In March 2018 Labor leader Bill Shorten announced he would restore funding to Catholic schools:

“When it comes to school funding, my party stands shoulder to shoulder with the church…We are committed to funding all schools based on a proper assessment of their need, while also supporting parental choice.”

17. Supporting China Extradition Treaty

In March 2017 Turnbull attempted to ratify an extradition treaty with China which would’ve severely compromised the basic human right to a fair and unbiased trial.

The Foreign Editor of The Australian, Greg Sheridan, wrote that the attempt to ratify the treaty “contradicts fundamental Liberal ­values” and “represents a failure in principle, as well as a failure in political and process management, on an epic scale”. And Sheridan went on, saying:

“Surely the most objectionable element of the government’s ­arguments was to cite the situation of Australians who are now in Chinese custody. The government’s argument contradicts itself and making it publicly is one of the most irresponsible actions I have ever seen from an Australian government. If the Chinese government is going to mistreat Australian prisoners because Canberra does not ratify a treaty this is itself proof ­beyond question that the Chinese legal system is not independent or truly based on law.”

Tony Abbott opposed ratification when he was Prime Minister, and it should also be noted that even the Labor Party oppose ratification.

18. No funding for veterans to travel to Kokoda on ANZAC Day for 75th anniversary of the Kokoda Campaign

2017 was the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda Campaign, where over 600 Australian soldiers were killed by the Imperial Japanese who were attempting to invade Australia. Vietnam War veteran Charlie Lynn was interviewed on Sydney radio after attending the 2017 ANZAC Day commemoration on the Kokoda Trail. He said the following:

“There were no veterans here…For the 75th anniversary of ANZAC Bob Hawke spent 10 million dollars and took 58 veterans to Gallipoli. They anchored a warship off the coast of Gallipoli to look after them if they had trouble. And for the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda Campaign they haven’t brought a single veteran up here…There’s a lack of substance to the symbolism up here, by the current political leadership”

Even the ultra-left Gillard Labor Government organised and funded six veterans’ attendance at ANZAC Day commemorations on the Kokoda Trail in 2012, for the 70th anniversary.


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1. Alexander, C. (2009, Feb 23). Turnbull aims to out-green Labor. AAP Bulletin Wire.

2. Turnbull to advocate tougher greenhouse gas target. (2009, Feb 23). AAP Finance News Wire.

3. Bracks wants irrigators protected under $10b water plan. (2007, Jan 29). ABC Premium News.

4. Compulsory water buy backs must be ruled out, Joyce says. (2007, Jan 29). ABC Premium News.

5. Fed: Turnbull questions siphoning the Murray Darling. (2007, Jan 11). AAP General News Wire.

6. Jenkins, M & Gartrell, A. (2008, May 04). Spending cuts in budget unwise: Turnbull. AAP Bulletin Wire.

7. Turnbull turns on greedy execs. (2009, Feb 28). Illawarra Mercury.