Malcolm Turnbull’s Play Up dealings.

14 March 2016 4:38 pm

So while the latest opinion poll shows Malcolm Turnbull’s government will be returned at this year’s election with a margin of 53 per cent to 47 per cent to Labor, Malcolm Turnbull’s rankings among voters is taking a battering.
The Fairfax-Ipsos poll shows his approval rating fell 7 percentage points in a month to 55 per cent, and his disapproval rating has risen 8 percentage points to 32 per cent.

Paula Mathewson, a former media advisor to John Howard, says Turnbull’s prevarication over the timing of this year's federal election is also starting to make him look dodgy.

All this is on top of his earlier backdown on increasing the GST, and ongoing dithering over a broader tax reform package.

As she says, it’s a problem completely of Turnbull’s own making.

What makes the situation look worse are revelations in today’s Australian Financial Review that Turnbull and his family had retrieved their investment in a failed tech start-up which was placed in liquidation in January 2015 as other wealthy and famous investors face losing $100 million, and staff were not paid wages and superannuation.

The Prime Minister's investment firm Turnbull & Partners was receiving repayments against a $US1 million ($1.3 million) debt from Revo, the parent company of failed sports technology firm Play Up.

All of this was done through the instigation of PlayUp chairman and former NSW Liberal Premier Nick Greiner and his board after Mr Turnbull had attempted to sell shares in the company he bought in 2012. The terms of the debt and repayments were negotiated by the Prime Minister's son Alex Turnbull, a hedge fund manager in Singapore, although the majority of the debt remained in the name of the Prime Minister's investment fund Turnbull & Partners.

So while Turnbull got his money back, others weren’t. Now there is nothing dishonest or inappropriate here.

But according to the AFR, some shareholders are angry Mr Turnbull and his son were able to secure their debt ahead other secured creditors. Not to mention staff forced to apply to the federal government's Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG) scheme to claim back unpaid wages, and the Australian Tax Office for superannuation contributions the company failed to make on their behalf.

Whether any of this makes an impact on the polls remains to be seen. But today’s revelations won’t help.