Leigh Sales asked Malcolm Turnbull how he would govern for the not-so rich.

“I have had to struggle in life, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth.”

Malcolm Turnbull’s first interview with Leigh Sales since taking on the top job was certainly a lot more cordial than the interactions we’ve seen between the journalist and some of the Prime Minister’s colleagues in recent months.

The 7.30 host began by going back to basics, asking Turnbull to outline the fundamental principles that would underpin his government.

Leigh Sales is probably not used to having LNP members smile at her.

‘Freedom’ was the key point, he said, explaining that he believed in supporting a free market “to ensure that we remain a high-wage, First-World, generous social welfare net economy and that requires strong economic growth.”

And Turnbull certainly knows how to make the most of a ‘free market’ — now worth an estimated $186 million — a point which has not gone unnoticed by the media.

The NT News front page the morning after the leadership spill.

“Let me ask you a bit of a personal question and I don’t mean it to be offensive in any way,” Sales said.

“Life has dealt you some great cards that few people get, right? You’ve got a great brain, everyone would agree, good parents, good health, lovely family, good education, enormous wealth.

“What would you say to Australians who might think how can Malcolm understand what it is to struggle for anything because Malcolm has had everything he has ever wanted?”

To his credit, Turnbull answered the question with humility, “The truth is I have been extraordinarily lucky.

“I have had to struggle in life, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth by any means, but the reality is, even if you’re born with brains, a higher than average intelligence, that is in a sense as undeserved as someone who inherits a billion dollars.

“The fact is we’ve all got to recognise that much of our good fortune is actually good fortune.”

He illustrated his point with an anecdote about his time working at Goldman Sachs, an investment bank in New York.

He said that the CEO had given the staff a pep talk, attributing their immense success and to their hard work — saying they deserved it.

“I said to him afterwards, just quietly, I said, ‘You know, there are taxi drivers in this city that work much longer hours than anyone does here and they don’t earn very much at all.’


“The truth is nobody can have experienced exactly the same experience of any other Australian. The important thing is to have the emotional — emotional intelligence and the empathy and the imagination that enables you to walk in somebody else’s shoes, to be able to sit down with them on a train or on a — in the street, hear their story and have the imagination to understand how they feel. Emotional intelligence is probably the most important asset for — certainly for anyone in my line of work.”

Turnbull with his mother on Australian Story.

ABC’s Australian Story also focussed on the new Prime Minister last night and included details of Turnbull’s childhood, along with a series of interviews with those closest to him.

Turnbull was raised exclusively by his father from just ten years of age, after his parents separated and his mother moved to New Zealand.

His wife, Lucy Turnbull, revealed the profound effect this had had on him and the way he tackled his career.

“Trying to meet the expectations that were placed upon his shoulders as a child [was] a very motivating force in his life,’ she said.

“Everybody’s past and childhood is an important key to who they are and Malcolm’s life story is no exception.”

Sales and Turnbull also discussed tax reform (notably he didn’t rule out changes to the GST), industrial relations, foreign and defence policy — particularly within the context of our ongoing relationship with China — and climate change.

There was no mention of other key issues such as same-sex marriage or domestic violence.

The interview finished with Turnbull revealing he would not be living in Kirrabilli House:

“Lucy and I will continue to live, that’s to say, sleep, in our house in Sydney, which of course is agreeably close to our grandson,” he said.

“It’s a great location to use for charities and for, you know, opportunities to, you know, support good causes.

“So, it’s… we’ll certainly be doing that, but we’ll be sleeping at home.”

Did you watch the PM on 7.30 last night?