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Some choice pars.

“…Late last year, Geoffrey Luck reviewed ‘Born To Rule’, Paddy Manning’s incisive biography of the Prime Minister. Today, after an ill-advised double dissolution and near-death experience for the Coalition, we reprise that examination of a man disastrously blind to his own deficiencies. Malcolm Turnbull, Chapter and Verse

On one level, Paddy Manning’s Born to Rule is just what it claims to be – an unauthorized biography of Australia’s latest prime minister. On another, more important plane, it can be assessed as a detailed report on the suitability of Malcolm Turnbull for the position of Chief Executive of Australia. On this basis, it is clear that Turnbull was a high-risk candidate for the appointment. Brilliant, energetic, ambitious — undoubtedly. But also with a fast-skipping career in which he showed himself arrogant, impatient, aggressive, individualistic, impetuous and, possibly, unstable/unpredictable?

But what brought Turnbull to the public’s attention was the excitement surrounding what seemed a spectacular defeat of the Poms in the Spycatcher case, soon after he had set up his own law firm. In reality, the British government had a weak case, and as Manning makes clear, there wasn’t much law in it. Turnbull used the media, politics and PR techniques to buttress his cross-examinations. But he admitted, “Lucy’s public international law had won the day.” Nevertheless he was not slow to claim credit.

Whitlam Turnbull lasted less than three years as the partners fell out. Whitlam claimed there was a constant feeling of crisis in the office, with staff resentment of Turnbull, whom they dubbed “The Ayatollah.” Later, in the vicious in-fighting around the bid by the Tourang syndicate for Fairfax, Turnbull leaked a key document to the Chairman of the Broadcasting Tribunal (which was holding an enquiry to see cross-media rules weren’t breached.) It showed that Kerry Packer was aiming to control Fairfax, and had lied to a Senate inquiry into the matter, forcing Packer to pull out of the Tourang syndicate. Turnbull collected a fee of $6 million, and showed he was prepared to use leaking to win. Sydney University academic Rod Tiffen had the last word:

I think the first thing that should be said is that what Malcolm Turnbull did helped Australian democracy.

The jackpot came with Ozemail, the innovative ISP Turnbull and others helped to prop up with an injection of capital, and went on to yield him $40 million. He was a joint investor and chairman. Ozemail’s founder and visionary, Sean Howard, found it necessary in 2010 to clarify Turnbull’s role.

I do wish Malcolm Turnbull would stop claiming, as he did on the ABC yesterday, that ‘I’ve been involved in the internet since 1994 when we started Ozemail.’ The corporate entity which ran Ozemail changed in 1994 when Trevor Kennedy and Turnbull invested in it, but Ozemail itself began two years earlier, in 1992…..Malcolm initially passed on the opportunity, but on Kennedy’s second approach he decided to invest in what was by then already Australia’s largest ISP.

It was I who, in 1992, two years before Malcolm’s investment, thought up the name Ozemail while taking a shower. I recall being rather tickled with myself for conceiving that name. And I recall showering alone…”