“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.
‘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.
“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.’