Showing posts with label propaganda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label propaganda. Show all posts

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Tweet of the Week

Monday, 3 July 2017

Is the Liberal Party of Australia taking a leaf out of Steve Bannon's playbook

This was a ‘news’ banner on the Liberal Party of Australia’s The Fair Go website on 27 June 2016:
The short eight sentence long spiel behind the login wall began with:

Where does Getup get its money from and what is the real agenda behind the bluster?

From Open Society to Podesta to The Sunrise Project, Avaaz to GetUp in Australia! There’s certainly been a lot of US money a-flowing toward Aussie Leftists groups. So, who is giving who how much and where is it all going?

And ended with this image:

However it did not disclose any “secret money trails” and appeared to base its claims in part on 'fake news' produced during the 2016 US presidential election and the political donations disclosures GetUp! (Getup Limited est. 29 April 2005) regularly submits to the Australian Electoral Commission which can be found on the commission’s website as well as on a GetUp! web page.

According to the staff writers at The Fair Go the villain of the piece is George Soros – one of the people Donald Trump likes to hate – who is supposedly nefariously funding GetUp! through Avaaz.

Of course no mention is made of the fact that two co-founders and current board members of GetUp! were later also co-founders of Avaaz, so there is an existing and acknowledged relationship which has seen these two groups work together on climate change campaigns.

Instead this little gem made it off a staff writer’s keyboard and onto the website:

Getup alone spent $10m on pro-Union, pro-Green, anti-development, anti-jobs agenda last year. They have been getting some help from American organisation Avaaz with $275,000 in donations over the last two years.

But where does Avaaz get their funding from? Open Society Foundation of course! 

All roads lead back to George Soros.

Small problem with the maths though. The figure for the last two Third Party Return of Political Expenditure forms submitted by GetUp! show zero donations from Avaaz in 2015-16 and a single $99,985 donation in 2014-15. Even if one goes back to the 2013-14 form, that included donation would only bring the Avaaz donation total to $195,605 over the last three financial years declared to date.

It should come as no surprise to find that Avaaz also publishes its US expenditure declarations which means that there is even less to The Fair Go’s secrecy claims. Avaaz received a general support grant in 2008-09 from the Open Society Institute (OSI est. 1979) and since then does not appear to have accepted donations from “foundations or corporations”.

As for George Soros and the Open Society Foundations (formerly OSI) – well that registered philanthropic organisation operating world-wide produces annual budgets which show what programs it is involved with and where. Australia is not one of the countries in which it has a presence and, apart from attending at least one international conference which happen to be held in this country and including Australia in its “Case Watch” series and the occasional report, it does not appear to be active here.

The 2016 Open Society Foundations budget showed expected expenditure of US$544.6 million and the 2017 budget expenditure is expected to come in at US$940.7 million. This money goes to small and medium sized organisations such as those providing advocacy, legal aid, assistance to refugees, early childhood development and education and food security in the face of climate change programs, as well as to grass roots activism.

Who would you believe when it comes to “secret money trails”? A political party (with its own political donation probity issues) which couldn’t even come up with an original design for a website which appears to be using the Steve Bannon approach to facts and is aping one of Donald Trump’s pet conspiracy theories, or the publicly available political donation disclosures GetUp! has been submitting since 2006-07.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

The Liberal Party has a new website *chortle*

The Liberal Party of Australia has a new website, The Fair Go, which it officially launched on 23 June 2017 at the party's federal conference.

Created on 2 May 2017 with registration expiring on 2 May 2018, it appears to have been established with the next federal election in mind.

Its admin email is

It has everything from The Words of the Week through to Pollies Horoscopes and Agony Bob advises – along with articles like Women are just people, Simplify Medicare to make it better and more sustainable and From laissez-faire to much fairer (the last two require a log-in to read)

No, I’m not joking. These are all on the current homepage.

Presumably the Liberal Party sees this website as aiming for the 18 to 25 year-old vote (the er...."woke generation") and surely must have used the Young Liberals from Sydney University as their focus group because the lameness level is off the charts.

According to outgoing acting Liberal party director Andrew Bragg undecided voters and swing voters would be targeted and the website"is designed to support the coalition's overarching narrative into social platforms and arm supporters with bottom up perspectives on public policy issues. Publish or perish must be our credo"

Suspend disbelief and enter at
We can’t be the only ones who remember that brief, disturbing time in which Australia declared the newly-minted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to be “daddy”.

We were curious how UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and US Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders would stack up in the daddy stakes. Corbyn got a huge slice of the youth vote and Sanders didn’t make it through the primary but still commands the hearts, minds and Twitter feeds of voters craving a political quality which has been thin on the ground.
It’s The Fair Go’s considered opinion that this quality is Daddiness. Or maybe more like grand-daddiness. Hear us out.
At first glance, you’d have to say that these old white leaders (OWLs) are unlikely heroes for a woke generation. But the young, white and wealthy just can’t get enough of them. [my yellow highlighting]
Potential Pest Warning

'Chances of hitting the floor whilst reading' rating  

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Australia's national gas shortage mirage

It is a case of now you see it now you don’t, courtesy of a rapacious gas industry and the governments which blindly support it............


Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) , media release, 28 February 2017:

Australia urgently needs more gas supply and more gas suppliers to head off a supply shortfall forecast for 2019.
APPEA Chief Executive Dr Malcolm Roberts said the report released today by AiGroup shows customers will pay a heavy price for government bans on developing new gas supply.
“Gas is no different to any other commodity – you restrict supply, you push up prices,” Dr Roberts said.
“We have the bizarre situation of State governments banning new gas projects and then complaining about higher gas prices.
“The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Productivity Commission and a host of independent commentators all agree that stifling supply can only lead to higher prices.
“Yesterday, the ABS released data showing gas exploration is at its lowest level since 2005.
“Today, the AWU is calling for the Commonwealth to force Australian gas producers to tear up their contracts.  We need billions in investment to unlock new gas supplies but the AWU’s approach would kill investment overnight.
“There is no shortage of gas which can be developed to supply all of our local and export customers.
“Just as our agricultural industries have the capacity to supply export and domestic markets, so does Australia’s east coast gas industry.  Our LNG exporters are also the major suppliers to the domestic market.
“People concerned by the impact of higher gas prices on local customers should be arguing for the removal of unnecessary restrictions on developing new resources, not more heavy-handed regulation.
“The AiGroup report simply reinforces what APPEA has been saying for years – that gas customers will pay higher-than-necessary prices if restrictions on developing new gas projects continue.
Dr Roberts said it was ironic the AWU’s call for intervention to renegotiate export contracts came on the same day that domestically‑focused Cooper Energy and the APA Group announced a $605 million investment in developing the Sole Project to supply east coast gas market.
“Changes that increase the cost of exploration and production in Australia will place future investment – like that required for projects such as Sole – at risk,” he said.


We find that although a “gas-price crisis” exists in eastern-Australia, a gas-supply shortfall is very unlikely to occur. Our review finds that the size of AEMO’s forecast shortfall is very small, amounting to no more than around 0.2% of annual supply.
In addition, only eleven days after announcing its supply-gap concerns, AEMO essentially closed the gap when it published, on its website, updated (lower) electricity-demand forecasts that therefore lead to less demand for electricity generated by burning gas. [University of Melbourne, Australian-German Climate and Energy College, Tim Forcey and Dylan McConnell, 2017, A short-lived gas shortfall]

However, it is also important to note that the total gas supply in Eastern Australia has expanded rapidly in recent years, and the key domestic issue is more to do with the gas price that is now dictated by linkages to international trade, than the supply.
In addition the combination of falling renewable and storage costs means alternative options for the electricity sector will be cheaper than developing relatively expensive unconventional gas resources such as coal seam gas. [University of Melbourne, Australian-German Climate and Energy College, Dylan McConnell, 2017, IS THE AUSTRALIAN GAS SHORTFALL A MYTH?]

The Guardian, 18 May 2017:

A predicted shortage of gas for electricity generation in Australia from 2018 will not eventuate, and the recent surge in domestic prices will not be mitigated by opening up new coal seam gas fields, according to a new report.

In March, the Australian Energy Market Operator (Aemo) predicted that without national reform, Australia would face gas shortages, which would drive power outages, in 2018 and 2019.

“If we do nothing, we’re going to see shortfalls in gas, we’re going to see shortfalls in electricity,” Aemo’s chief operating officer, Mike Cleary, told the ABC at the time.

Despite being described by some as “major”, the actual shortfall of electricity from the gas shortage amounted to the equivalent of less than 24 hours over a 13-year period, according to the new report by Tim Forcey and Dylan McConnell at Melbourne University’s Australian-German climate and energy college.

In any case, less than two weeks after Aemo predicted the shortfall, it published an updated forecast of how much electricity would be needed in the period. It downgraded the previous forecast and completely wiped out the predicted shortage.

The Melbourne University report, which was commissioned by the Wilderness Society and Lock the Gate, also noted that later in March Shell announced it was proceeding with its “Project Ruby” that involved 161 gas wells in Queensland, and also would have closed the shortage, if it were real.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

U.S. Trump Regime's Anti-science Stance Hardens aka Where To Get Basic EPA 2016 Climate Change Data While You Can

Searching with Google for on 29 April 2017 and clicking on link to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Climate Change Basic Information - Causes of Climate Change - Great Plains, this webpage appeared:

The change appears to have occurred on or about 21 April 2017.

The ‘explanation’ for this change is expanded at

News Releases from Headquarters› Office of the Administrator (AO)

EPA Kicks Off Website Updates

WASHINGTON –, the website for the United States Environmental Protection Agency, is undergoing changes that reflect the agency’s new direction under President Donald Trump and Administrator Scott Pruitt. The process, which involves updating language to reflect the approach of new leadership, is intended to ensure that the public can use the website to understand the agency's current efforts. The changes will comply with agency ethics and legal guidance, including the use of proper archiving procedures. For instance, a screenshot of the last administration’s website will remain available from the main page.

“As EPA renews its commitment to human health and clean air, land, and water, our website needs to reflect the views of the leadership of the agency,” said J.P. Freire, Associate Administrator for Public Affairs. “We want to eliminate confusion by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law.”

The first page to be updated is a page reflecting President Trump’s Executive Order on Energy Independence, which calls for a review of the so-called Clean Power Plan. Language associated with the Clean Power Plan, written by the last administration, is out of date. Similarly, content related to climate and regulation is also being reviewed.

While Twitter showed a link this in the official EPA timeline on 29 April 2017.

Fox News Insider, 27 April 2017:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said on "The First 100 Days" tonight the United States should exit the Paris climate agreement because it's a "bad business deal" for America.

Pruitt said the U.S. "front-loaded" our costs under the Paris accord, while countries like China, Russia and India can continue to pollute and not take steps that our country already has.

He noted that U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are at pre-1994 levels, thanks to innovation and technology.

"What we should be talking about is how we export innovation, how we export technology that we've already deployed here," Pruitt said.

He said that the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan and the Paris deal represented a $2.2 trillion reduction in gross domestic product over a ten year period for the U.S., in addition to $292 billion of compliance costs and up to 400,000 lost jobs annually.

"That's a bad business deal for this country," Pruitt said, calling it a prime example of the previous administration's "America last" strategy.

To date there are an est. 14,481 EPA webpage captures on the Wayback Machine between 18 Apr 1997 and 28 Apr 2017.

So before Donald Trump rewrites U.S. climate change history and smothers the EPA website with 'alternative facts' I suggest interested readers download what data they can while they can.

EPA's Climate Change Indicators in the United States was published in 2016 and here is the Wayback archive of that document:

2016 full report (PDF)(96 pp, 20 MB, August 2016)
2016 fact sheet (PDF)(2 pp, 2 MB, October 2016)

EPA has developed comprehensive technical documentation that describes the data sources and analytical methods for every indicator presented in the Climate Change Indicators in the United States report. A PDF version of the technical documentation is provided below for each indicator, along with an overview that describes EPA's process for selecting and evaluating indicators.

Additional files you can download from other pages:

High-resolution figures and the numerical data underlying the figures (on each indicator page)

You may need Adobe Reader to view files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.

Technical documentation overview (PDF)(15 pp, 339 K, August 2016)
Arctic Sea Ice technical documentation (PDF)(11 pp, 382 K, November 2016)
Drought technical documentation (PDF)(9 pp, 273 K, August 2016)
Glaciers technical documentation (PDF)(8 pp, 260 K, August 2016)
Lake Ice technical documentation (PDF)(9 pp, 270 K, August 2016)
Ocean Heat technical documentation (PDF)(5 pp, 195 K, August 2016)
Sea Level technical documentation (PDF)(11 pp, 301 K, August 2016)
Snow Cover technical documentation (PDF)(6 pp, 210 K, August 2016)
Snowfall technical documentation (PDF)(7 pp, 212 K, August 2016)
Snowpack technical documentation (PDF)(6 pp, 223 K, August 2016)
Wildfires technical documentation (PDF)(13 pp, 548 K, August 2016)

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Wondered why Donald Trump's first presidential address to the Joint US Congress sounded coherent?

Here’s the answer.

With the help of two transparent autocues Trump read every last line of that speech written for him by someone who had actually mastered the English language.

Photograph by visual journalist  Victoria Sarno Jordan

Snapshot from YouTube NBC News, 1 March 2017

Regardless of any level of skill displayed by the White House  speech writer, this was still a Trump Regime speech so requires basic fact checking, which can be found here.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

So where did you say your news was coming from?

An interesting snippet from Australian Newspaper History Group, Newsletter, No 90, December 2016, pp.

90.1.3 China (1): Supplement to SMH and Age

On 23 September both the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age carried an eight-page supplement entitled China Watch, which contained China news and views.
The supplement clearly indicated that it had been prepared by the China Daily and that there had been no editorial involvement by the Sydney Morning Herald and Age.
This follows a precedent where in recent years the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age have regularly carried similar sponsored supplements containing news and views of Russia.

90.1.4 China (2): Australian media

Yan Xia, the editor of Vision China Times, a Chinese-language newspaper published in Australia, says a Beijing-based immigration agency was forced to pull an advertisement from his paper because it was regarded as an “anti-China” paper (Australian, 10 October 2016). The Ministry of State Security, the agency in charge of counter-intelligence and political security, had allegedly harassed the agent.

Yan Xia said, “Our lost client illustrates but one of the mounting pressures faced by independent Chinese media in Australia. Tensions have heightened over recent months, with Australia’s Chinese media under pressure to support President Xi Jinping and Beijing’s foreign policy. That pressure is part of China’s exercise in ‘soft power’. Broadly speaking, there are three types of Chinese-language media in Australia.

“The first consists of those that rely on the Chinese government and Chinese commercial ties for revenue. These outlets tend to echo and take their cues from state-run mouthpieces. The second group consists of media directed by religious groups aiming to expose China’s political, educational and socio-economic situation while promoting human rights and religious freedom. And the third is independent of political and religious influence. Its reporting is largely in line with the ideals of Western mainstream media and generally gives holistic views of Canberra’s policies and sentiments.

“Our outfit fits this last category. While independent media outlets are standard in the West, a one-party state cannot accept that media outlets “do not follow directives” and, by its reckoning, do damage to ‘national interests’. In China, national interests are synonyms for ‘the party’s interests’.

“In recent months it appears the Chinese government’s influence in Australia has become more open and, thus, more easily observed. For Chinese media platforms whose goal is to serve as the bridge between the Chinese community and the Australian mainstream, the challenge lies in reporting fairly and accurately on matters of conflict between the two countries. We choose to remain unyielding in our approach, reporting according to Western journalistic ideals. This has been tested during recent times, which have seen a deluge of articles examining issues that Beijing considers unpalatable.”

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

On the problem of fake news....

Digital Trends, 6 December 2016:

It’s been half a decade since the co-founder of Avaaz, Eli Pariser, first coined the phrase “filter bubble,” but his prophetic TED Talk — and his concerns and warnings — are even more applicable now than they were then. In an era of fake news, curated content, personalized experiences, and deep ideological divisions, it’s time we all take responsibility for bursting our own filter bubbles.

When I search for something on Google, the results I see are quite different from yours, based on our individual search histories and whatever other data Google has collected over the years. We see this all the time on our Facebook timelines, as the social network uses its vats of data to offer us what it thinks we want to see and hear. This is your bubble…..

Filter bubbles may not seem too threatening a prospect, but they can lead to two distinct but connected issues. The first is that when you only see things you agree with, it can lead to a snowballing confirmation bias that builds up steadily over time.

They don’t overtly take a stance, they invisibly paint the digital landscape with things that are likely to align with your point of view.

A wider problem is that with such difference sources of information between people, it can lead to the generation of a real disconnect, as they become unable to understand how anyone could think differently from themselves.

A look at any of the left- or right-leaning mainstream TV stations during the buildup to the recent election would have left you in no doubt over which candidate they backed. The same can be said of newspapers and other media. In fact, this is true of many published endorsements.

But we’re all aware of that bias. It’s easy to simply switch off or switch over to another station, to see the other side of the coin.

Online, the bias is more covert. Google searches, social network feeds, and even some news publications all curate what they show you. Worse, it’s all behind the scenes. They don’t overtly take a stance, they invisibly paint the digital landscape with things that are likely to align with your point of view…..

This becomes even more of a problem when you factor in faux news. This latest election was one of the most contentious in history, with low-approval candidates on both sides and salacious headlines thrown out by every source imaginable. With so much mud being slung, it was hard to keep track of what was going on, and that was doubly so online, where fake news was abundant.

This is something that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has tried to play down, claiming that it only accounted for 1 percent of the overall Facebook news. Considering Facebook has near 2 billion users, though, that’s potentially a lot of faux stories parroted as the truth. It’s proved enough of an issue that studies suggest many people have difficulty telling fake news from real news, and in the weeks since the election, both Google and Facebook have made pledges to deal with the problem.

Also consider that 61 percent of millennials use Facebook as their main source of news, and you can see how this issue could be set to worsen if it’s not stoppered soon…..

While Zuckerberg may not think fake news and memes made a difference to the election, Facebook employee and Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey certainly did. He was outed earlier this year for investing more than $100,000 in a company that helped promote Donald Trump online through the proliferation of memes and inflammatory attack advertisements. He wouldn’t have put in the effort if he thought it worthless.

Buzzfeed’s analysis of the popular shared stories on Facebook shows that while fake news underperformed compared to its real counterparts in early 2016, by the time the Election Day rolled around at the start of November, it had a 1.5 million engagement lead over true stories.

That same analysis piece highlighted some of the biggest fake election stories, and all of them contained classic click-baiting tactics. They used scandalous wording, capitalization, and sensationalist claims to draw in the clickers, sharers, and commenters.

That’s because these sorts of words help to draw an emotional reaction from us. Marketing firm Co-Schedule discovered this back in 2014, but it’s likely something that many people would agree with even without the hard numbers. We’ve all been tempted by clickbait headlines before, and they’re usually ones that appeal to fear, anger, arousal, or some other part of us that isn’t related to critical thinking and political analysis. Everyone’s slinging mud from within their own filter bubbles, secure in the knowledge that they are right, and that everyone who thinks differently is an idiot.

And therein lies the difficulty. The only way to really understand why someone may hold a different viewpoint is through empathy. But how can you empathize when you don’t have control over how the world appears to you, and your filter serves as a buffer to stories that might help you connect with the other side?

Reaching out to us from the past, Pariser  has some thoughts for those of us now living through his warning of the future. Even if Facebook may be stripping all humanity from its news curation, there are still human minds and fingertips behind the algorithms that feed us content. He called on those programmers to instill a sense of journalistic integrity in the AI behind the scenes.

“We need the gatekeepers [of information] to encode [journalistic] responsibility into the code that they’re writing. […] We need to make sure that these algorithms have encoded in them a sense of the public life, a sense of civic responsibility. They need to be transparent enough that we can see what the rules are and […] we need [to be] given some control.”

That sort of suggestion seems particularly pertinent, since it was only at the end of August that Facebook laid off its entire editorial team, relying instead on automated algorithms to curate content. They didn’t do a great job, though, as weeks later they were found to have let a bevy of faux content through the screening process.

While it may seem like a tall order for megacorporations to push for such an open platform, so much of a stink has been raised about fake news in the wake of the election that it does seem like Facebook and Google at least will be doing something to target that problematic aspect of social networking. They can do more, though, and it could start with helping to raise awareness of the differences in the content we’re shown…..

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Is it time to abandon Facebook?

We’ve all heard about “fake news” and how it now pervades our daily life.

What we are not always aware of is how social media sites like Facebook aggregate the news to focus on what our browsing history tells it we may like and, how it indiscriminately serves up these fake sites as genuine news in the feeds it presents online.

Fake news sites are not satire or comedy - they have been deliberately created to sway public opinion and voted intention.

As The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 2 December  2016:

Here's the thing: Facebook is using an algorithm to provide you "news" that it thinks you want to see. So, if Facebook has identified you as someone who supports Trump, it will pump in things like this deceptively-edited clip that you will, almost certainly, take as gospel truth. You likely won't dig deeper into the story to make sure that the clip is legit; it affirms your view that Obama and Democrats are bad and are encouraging illegal behaviour and, therefore, requires no checking.  It's literally too good to check.

This creates a dangerous echo chamber during periods of social or political unrest and even during run-of-the-mill election campaigns.

The mainstream media – now bereft of the financial and journalistic manpower resources in had in former times to explore or fully investigate issues often becomes part of that echo chamber.

Thus we find the likes of Anthony John Abbott and Donald John Trump (who were either enthusiastically promoted in the media or not critically evaluated sufficiently) elected to the most powerful positions in their respective countries.

I have to honestly say that in my opinion Facebook since its inception has been the worst offender when it comes to promoting extreme right-wing or downright fascist politicians, falsely labelled lobby groups and fake news sites.

To date Facebook’s alleged response to public criticism of its news algorithm has been less than effective.

I suggest that Australian readers of online news who wish to keep abreast of genuine domestic and international news reports avoid Facebook until Mark Zuckerberg demonstrates he is serious about delivering legitimate news on his social media platform.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The truth about Malcolm Turnbull's wealth

Malcolm Bligh Turnbull’s ‘truth’……

The rest of the world’s truth……

The Australian, 11 June 2016:

Last Sunday, Malcolm Turnbull sent out an email — Re: “My Dad” — inviting us all to reflect upon and share the story of his upbringing by his late father, Bruce. It was a deliberate decision by the Prime Minister to personalise the election campaign. The ­exercise was well calculated, but a couple of lines, about Bruce Turnbull in particular, were noticeably selective.

“We didn’t have much money. He was a hotel broker and for most of that time he was battling like a lot of people are — a lot of single parents are, certainly. He did well after a while. In the latter part of his life he kicked a few goals after a lot of effort …”

Malcolm Turnbull the politician has consistently downplayed his father’s success as a small businessman, and the substantial inheritance he received when Bruce died in a plane crash near Gloucester in 1982, age 56.

While researching my biography of the Prime Minister, Born to Rule, I spoke with old friends and business associates of Bruce. They remembered a fit man’s man, sharp witted and deal savvy. Many profiles over the years make the easy assumption that Malcolm Turnbull inherited his celebrated intelligence from his mother, the actor, writer and academic Coral Lansbury.
Having spoken to some of Bruce’s mates, I am not so sure.

Prestige property agent Bill Bridges, who has sold and resold many of Sydney’s best homes over a career spanning 50 years, was in a running club with Bruce that included Bruce Gyngell and NSW Supreme Court judge John Sackar. Bridges told me that “there was no one more streetwise than Bruce Turnbull, and that’s the best education you can get”.

Bruce Turnbull was a country boy and former electrician from Maitland, near Newcastle, who came to Sydney in his twenties. Bruce truly was self-made. He married Coral a year after Malcolm was born in 1954 and for the most part the couple lived in a flat on New South Head Road, Vaucluse, in Sydney’s salubrious eastern suburbs, which land title records show Bruce co-owned through a private company.

Young Malcolm lived here happily, walking to and from Vaucluse Public School. In 1963, he was sent to board at Sydney Grammar’s preparatory school at well-to-do but distant St Ives. What he would not have known is that his parents’ marriage was failing. Coral had fallen in love with another academic and she left Bruce suddenly, taking the furniture — and the cat — and moving to New Zealand, where she remarried.

This was undoubtedly a tough time for Bruce and his son. They moved out of the Vaucluse flat and into a series of rented flats — including one in Gladswood Gardens, a red-brick block in a dead-end street in Double Bay.

During the next five years, Bruce’s hotel business really hit its straps and by 1970, when Malcolm was in Year 10, he had bought a luxurious three-bedroom apartment in Point Piper — a stone’s throw from the waterfront mansion Malcolm Turnbull lives in now. The apartment had smashing water views and cost Bruce $36,000. Today it is worth millions. When not boarding at Randwick — where he moved once he reached high school — this was Malcolm’s base for most of the next decade.

Bruce added to his portfolio in the 1970s, buying a unit in Bellevue Hill and two houses in Randwick. He almost doubled his money on a slice of the historic Hermitage ­Estate in Vaucluse, which he sold within 18 months to a company owned by Kerry Packer, a powerful early ­patron to his son.

Malcolm, who worked as a journalist through his years of law study, inherited his ­father’s penchant for property investing, and started early: at age 23 he bought a semi-detached house in inner-Sydney Newtown for almost $50,000 and at age 25 he bought a Redfern terrace for $40,000. He sold both for tidy profits. Turnbull bought his own first home, for an undisclosed sum in Potts Point, after returning from his Rhodes scholarship at Oxford University and marrying Lucy Hughes.

Bruce Turnbull was semi-retired by 1982, when he laid down almost $600,000 to buy a stunning farm at Rossgole, near Scone, which Malcolm has since expanded and which ABC viewers have seen on Australian Story and Kitchen Cabinet.

It is difficult to get the full picture of Bruce’s estate because it was accumulated before property records were computerised, and pre-ASIC. But friends say he, like many a real estate agent, would keep the best hotel deals for himself and his partners, picking up watering holes in thirsty locations like St Marys in Sydney’s west, Warners Bay at Lake Macquarie, and Newcastle……

Malcolm was also a hotel ­licensee, and on top of all this was getting a steady income stream from a 10 per cent share of the earnings from his broking licence, which he had contracted out…..

A glowing 1988 magazine profile estimated Turnbull inherited about $2 million when his father died, which would be worth almost $7m in today’s dollars. To inherit such a sum at the age of 28 is a life-changing event in anyone’s language. Turnbull went on to make a motza, but people who knew both father and son well point out, “he inherited a motza, too”……

Certainly Turnbull carried some resentment at his father. A flash of insight comes from an unpublished screenplay about the 1986 Spycatcher trial, by Turnbull’s old friend the late Bob Ellis and Stephen Ramsay. The script was written with the creative collaboration of Malcolm. It is fascinating to read a section where Malcolm, talking to his wife during a low point in the trial, throws down his whisky glass in despair, smashing it, and tells Lucy:
Malcolm: I wish dad was alive.
Lucy: (alarmed by this) You hated him.
Malcolm: I know. (Getting up, punching the door) But I didn’t want him dead. Not so soon.

After his success in the Spycatcher case, Turnbull turned his back on his promising career in the law and used his inheritance to set up a cleaning company, Allcorp, with then recently resigned NSW premier Neville Wran. He also founded a merchant bank with Nicholas Whitlam, son of the former prime minister (both Packer and Larry Adler gave their financial backing for a short time).

Striking out on his own, Turnbull was hungry and savage. Packer famously said he would not like to come between the young Malcolm and a sack of gold. It was not the trappings of wealth he was chasing but the substance: the independence of not having to work for someone else and the security that comes with prime real estate.

Malcolm had his father’s nose for a deal. During the next 15 years, he made a fortune as a merchant banker, as an adviser to Fairfax, an investor in unbelievably risky ventures such as logging in the Solomon Islands and gold mining in Siberia, and as an early backer of OzEmail and shareholder and partner in Goldman Sachs, where he helped Rodney Adler sell doomed insurer FAI to HIH.

By 1999, Turnbull had debuted on the BRW Rich List with a fortune of $65m. After Goldman Sachs listed on the New York Stock Exchange the following year, Turnbull’s fortune was bumped up to $90m, and that was conservative. It has more than doubled since, mainly by appreciation. The building blocks were in place by 2001, when Turnbull turned his attention to politics.

Nowadays, people who know Turnbull say he wears his wealth rather like a hair shirt. The PM does not apologise for his success, but he goes close sometimes, acknowledging there are “taxi drivers that work harder than I did”.

The PM consistently downplays his father’s wealth and his inheritance because he wants to underline that he is a self-made man. This is a hot-button issue for voters: they respect someone who gets rich off their own effort, but not someone who inherits.

By any reckoning, Turnbull had unbelievable advantages. Reading through Twitter feed #MalcolmWasSoPoor gives a flavour of the cynicism surrounding Turnbull’s “battler” story. Could Turnbull have done it all without his inheritance? Given his abilities, connections and prodigious work ethic, almost certainly yes. But did he? No.

In 1957 when this article was published in The Sydney Morning Herald's Women's Section the average female annual income was £1,200 pounds a year. Malcolm's mother was earning over four times that income.

Prior to meeting Bruce Bligh Turnbull she had been the recipient of £9,000 a year (for life or until remarriage) from her late first husband's estate and, in November 1954 reached a lump-sum settlement of $3,100 in lieu of her interest in the the estate.

Malcolm's father would have had an annual income in 1957 that would probably never had fallen below average male earnings, so the combined household income would have been at least £8,700 to £9,700 a year.