Turnbull’s primary parental influence appears to be his mother, Coral Lansbury. Coral was born in Melbourne in 1929, to two British stage actors who were touring Australia with the musical Show Boat and decided to stay.
She was an ardent feminist and a supporter of the Labor party.
Malcolm would later say that she was “certainly a Labor Party supporter…” and “no doubt a member”. Indeed, left-wing politics ran in the family. Coral’s great uncle was the radical leftist British Labour Party leader, George Lansbury, and Coral was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald [28th Dec, 1991] saying:
“Acting and politics are very close, and we Lansburys always seem to run to the stage or Labor politics.”
Whilst doing a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney, two of Coral’s closest friends were future Labor stalwarts Neville Wran and Lionel Murphy, and the thesis she wrote for her masters degree was titled “The Growth of Trade-Unionism in Australia”.
She soon became a scriptwriter & star actress for ABC radio soap operas, which were extremely popular before the television era. “She was a prolific writer,” Malcolm recounts. “In the 1950s, she was writing four radio serials at once.” Her writing included what she called “crypto-feminist” themes.
In 1953, at the age of 23, Coral did something disturbing. On a whim, she married her own godfather, a man 40 years her senior. How did this happen? A 1986 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer tells the story:
A violent quarrel with her mother sent her flying out of the house with the threat, “I’m going to marry the first man who asks me.” On her arrival at the [ABC] studio, she ran into her godfather, a producer, who had the habit of greeting her jokingly with, “When are you going to marry me?” That day, he followed his usual routine and was rocked back on his heels when Coral answered, “Tomorrow.”
Perhaps even more disturbing was that her godfather – the well-known ABC radio producer and pioneer George Edwards – went through with it, and they were quickly married in a government registry office on the 20th February, 1953. Coral was George’s fourth wife.
The marriage though, was never consummated. Literally the day after they registered the marriage, Edwards, he fell suddenly and seriously ill, and was admitted to hospital. He soon fully recovered, but a few months later he again fell suddenly ill, and died on the 28th of August, 1953.
coralBy January 1954, Coral had hooked-up with a Bondi beach lifesaver and sportsman named Bruce Turnbull, whom she called the “handsomest man in Sydney”. She falls pregnant and Malcolm is born in October, to the unmarried couple, who are living together in a luxury house owned by Coral, on Sydney’s north shore. The child compels them to marry, but they divorce 8 years later, and Coral goes on to an academic career in the United States.
Coral said Malcolm was “the only good thing that came out of that marriage” and Malcolm’s wife, Lucy Hughes, would later say: “He was extremely close and attached to his mother when he was a little boy.”Young Malcolm Fights for “Progressive” Govt
July, 1971 – A young Turnbull attacks the Liberal Party in a piece for the Sydney Grammar School newsletter, The Sydneian. Turnbull said the party was full of “men averse to change of any sort – men whose interests lie solely in the system as it is”. He said the Liberal approach was “hardly the material needed for a progressive government, which is what Australia as a nation needs above all else”, as he called for higher taxes on the rich. “Twenty years have seen many changes in Australia and the world, but few in the Liberal Party,” he said.
1973 – Turnbull, now a young University of Sydney Arts & Law student, is fascinated by Jack Lang, the former Labor Premier of NSW. Journalist Annabel Crabb writes:
“During his first year at university Turnbull regularly took a tape recorder and toiled up to the little Nithsdale Street office where Lang published his newspaper, the Century, until well into his tenth decade…Bizarrely enough, Turnbull was planning to write a musical about Lang, in collaboration with the leftist writer, Bob Ellis…. The musical was to have been called ‘Lang is Right!’”
Indeed Ellis says Lang was Turnbull’s “hero”:
“I knew him first when he was eighteen, ardent, ambitious and old beyond his years, and I began to co-write with him a musical play on his hero Jack Lang, called I think ‘Lang Is Right!’”
1974 – Writing in the University of Sydney student newspaper, Turnbull praises the Labor Party as a “wealth of opinion and class”, and attacks the former Menzies Government as having merely “warmed the treasury benches” for 23 years.1975 – Whilst at university, Turnbull works as a writer for the left-wing newspaper, The Nation Review. His fellow contributors included leftists like Bob Ellis, Germaine Greer, Phillip Adams, Michael Leunig and Mungo MacCallum. One senior writer, John Hepworth, was investigated by ASIO for being a communist sympathizer.
This was a newspaper so radical that it put John Howard on the front cover with the headline “This Man Rapes Housewives”. The Whitlam Labor Government even considered funding the newspaper when it got into financial trouble.
1976 – Despite his leftist ideology, Turnbull shows a willingness to join whatever political party he thinks he can use as a vehicle for his agenda. He tells radio broadcaster David Dale that he wants to be Prime Minister by age 40. Dale asks “For which party?”, and Turnbull responds “It doesn’t matter”.
1977 – Turnbull is hired by The Bulletin magazine to write on legal issues and politics. Despite his youth and inexperience, he writes with such arrogance and irreverence towards judges he perceives as conservative, that he receives a chiding from Justice of the High Court, Sir Harry Gibbs. Turnbull proudly admits as much, saying:
“I wrote about politics and law for the most part and started a rather irreverent column about legal matters which regularly enraged the more conservative members of the legal profession.”
During this time, Turnbull became acquainted with barrister Michael Kirby, a leftist legal radical who was a protégé of Labor left stalwart Lionel Murphy. Indeed, Kirby had been appointed to his then post as chair of the Australian Law Reform Commission by Murphy. Another of Turnbull’s mentors in the legal profession was future High Court Justice, Michael McHugh. McHugh is so far to the left that he told students at Sydney University:
“My own social views are probably as radical as anyone in this room – maybe more so.”
McHugh’s wife Jeannette was a federal Labor MP and is now the Chair of the Jessie Street Trust, an organisation that celebrates a Stalin-loving communist and former Labor candidate named Jessie Street.
October, 1977 – Turnbull wins a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford University, with references from prominent leftists, including NSW Labor Premier Neville Wran; the radical judge, Michael Kirby; and NSW Supreme Court Chief Justice Laurence Street, the son of the communist activist, Stalin-admirer, and former Labor Party candidate, Jessie Street.
10th December, 1977 – Writing for The Bulletin in an article titled “Time for Sir Garfield to sail away”, Turnbull calls for the resignation of the Chief Justice of Australia, Sir Garfield Barwick, for being what Turnbull thinks is too politically conservative in his judgements. In the same article Turnbull expresses support for the infamous radical left-wing activist High Court “Justice”, Lionel Murphy, a Labor-appointee and former Attorney-General in the Whitlam Labor government.
7th February, 1978 – Turnbull, in an article titled “The Vicious World of Student Politics” for The Bulletin magazine, attacks a conservative Sydney University Student Representative Council member named Tony Abbott, saying:
“The leading light of the right-wingers in NSW is twenty-year-old Tony Abbott. He has written a number of articles on AUS [The Australian Union of Students] in the Australian [newspaper] and his press coverage has accordingly given him a stature his rather boisterous and immature rhetoric doesn’t really deserve… While he can win support from students because of the shocking state of affairs in AUS, he cannot take the next step because of his conservative moral views.”
10th January, 1979 – Writing in The Australian Women’s Weekly, Turnbull heaps praise upon the left-wing feminist, Arianna Stassinopolous, the woman we know today as Arianna Huffington, the founder, President & Editor-in-Chief of the infamous left-wing propaganda website, The Huffington Post.
The article quotes Arianna attacking Christianity and opposing the traditional family structure, with Turnbull following up by saying “It is hard to disagree with Arianna’s personal philosophy.”