Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Malcolm Turnbull: Australia's New PM Brings Charisma and a Moderate Face

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Malcolm Turnbull: Australia's New PM Brings Charisma and a Moderate Face

Article excerpt

Malcolm Turnbull, a former journalist, lawyer, and merchant banker, is now Australia's fifth prime minister in five years.

Following a swift and masterful leadership coup Monday, the new leader promised a more consultative government. He vowed to get the economy back on track and put an end to the instability and discord that have plagued Australian politics.

The election has been welcomed by the business community and Australia's closest allies, including the United States and Britain.

Mr. Turnbull is one of Australia's most popular and charismatic politicians, and also its wealthiest. He consistently out-polled former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose term in office was plagued by policy missteps, legislative deadlock, and a flagging economy.

"We need advocacy, not slogans. We need to respect the intelligence of the Australian people," Turnbull said in his first press conference after ousting Mr. Abbott. "There has never been a more exciting time to be alive than today, and there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian," he said.

But Turnbull, 60, a vocal supporter of marriage equality and of making Australia a republic, is viewed with suspicion by those on the right of the ruling Liberal Party and its coalition partner, the socially conservative Nationals, who distrust his stand on climate change.

While Abbott promised in a farewell statement there would be "no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping" of the man who ousted him, Turnbull faces some formidable challenges.

Involved in 'Spycatcher' case"He is a left-leaning leader in a distinctly right-leaning party. It will be a stretch to reconcile his beliefs with the views of a majority of his followers," says veteran political journalist Michelle Grattan, now a fellow at the University of Canberra.

Australia's 29th prime minister was raised in Sydney by his father after his mother left the family home when he was nine. After graduating from Sydney University in 1978 with a law degree he studied at Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship.

Turnbull briefly worked as a journalist before returning to Sydney, where he established his own law firm. He became famous for several high-profile cases, including the "Spycatcher" case, where he helped overturn an attempt by the Thatcher government in the United Kingdom to ban the publication of the memoirs of ex-MI5 agent Peter Wright. …

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