December 4

A “man marked for greatness.”

Two pages of favourable news, and a sympathetic opinion piece  on another page, all about Mr. Malcolm Turnbull, appeared in the Sunday Telegraph on 3 December, 2006. Written by Sandra Lee, and headlined “The thoughts of chairman Mal,” the news report was topped with a series of his comments on various people with their photographs. These were announced as “A penetrating look inside the mind of a man marked for greatness.” On The Queen, Mr. Turnbull says nothing about Her Majesty’s qualities. Rather it was about his role in the failed campaign for a republic in the nineties: “I think the republic will come back on the agenda at the end of the Queen’s reign I said in 1999 that if you vote ‘no’ it means no for a long time. That’s why I said ‘vote yes now’ ”

In the main story, Mr.Turnbull told how he healed his rift with the Prime Minister, John Howard. "We never fell out personally. It was a willing contest, and those things can get a bit personal," he said, referring to the notorious speech he gave on the defeat of the republican proposal  in the 1999 referendum. Mr. Turnbull had declared that if John Howard was remembered for anything, it would be as the man who broke the heart of the nation.

When  Mr. Turnbull wanted to rejoin the Liberal Party, he said he extended an olive branch to Mr. Howard, thinking that “acrimony” from the “aggressive republican campaign might cause ongoing problems within the party. “So I went and saw the PM and said: ‘I am going to rejoin the Liberal Party, but I wanted to talk to you about it and make sure you were happy about it’," he said. "He was incredibly welcoming, really enthusiastic. He was quite funny about it and said: ‘Why, do you think this will be a problem?’  "And I said: ‘Well, I said some pretty tough things about you.’  And he said: ‘Oh, I said some terrible things about you. And anyway, most people say dreadful things about me behind my back, but every criticism you made of me you’ve shared with 20 million Australians.’ "

Mr.Turnbull is now the Parlia­mentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, with special responsibility for water. The Telegraph accompanied the story with two good photographs of Mr. Turnbull, one on a bus to Bondi. Readers could not help contrasting this with the careful choice in a recent Sunday Telegraph  of a photograph to accompany Glen Milne’s appalling story about gossip that the Governor-General and Mrs Jeffery were pompous. It is of course easy to find a photograph that supports a story.

Mr. Turnbull is clearly putting his hat into the ring to succeed Mr. Howard, something which the now republican Mr. Costello has previously assumed as his. Readers no doubt found the Telegraph’s attention curious.





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