Had Kevin Rudd not had the good fortune to make an advantageous marriage, then we can probably assume that the considerable wealth of his would-be nemesis Malcolm Turnbull could be more of an issue in public discussion than it is.

As things stand, Mr Turnbull’s rumoured $130million fortune and its occasional gain-seeking peregrinations are only sometimes the stuff of open debate. It would be awkward, after all, to call the kettle gilded when we are the jewel encrusted samovar. All that said, the politics of what might reasonably be thought to constitute “envy” sometimes raise their head … as they did yesterday, when treasurer Wayne Swan poked at Turnbull for some quick exits the Opposition leader made in the past fortnight from certain property based investments under pressure.

“Mr Turnbull, on the one hand, was saying the global financial crisis was over-hyped and, on the other hand, he was moving his own funds out of the system,” the Treasurer told Sydney radio 2GB yesterday. “That tells you something about Mr Turnbull’s double standards.”

If Turnbull’s wealth, or for that matter Rudd’s, is any sort of political point then it should only be to their credit. It speaks volumes for the character of such high net-worth individuals that they are prepared to sacrifice the earning capacity of private enterprise for the more meagre returns of public service. Politicians willing to make that sort of sacrifice should be treasured not pilloried. One imagines that many, particularly on the conservative side of politics, wish that there were more in their ranks prepared to follow in Turnbull’s footsteps and forego earnings in favour of a tour of political duty. We’d all be the richer of they would. Cop that Michael Kroger.   

Peter Fray

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