If there’s one good thing to come out of the Dyson Heydon controversy, it’s this… Previously confidential documents have been released, including the reports cards for one of Australia’s most important politicians.
In 1979, Malcolm Turnbull was at Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar. He was 25 and just a little bot cocky according to the Oxford don who wrote his report card.
“He has begun to find his level and to stretch his ability. This has dented his arrogance usefully, but I expect it will bounce back,” wrote Sir Edgar Williams of Rhodes House.
“He has the manner of a likeable rascal but I hope that there is more to him than that. Assuredly he does not suffer from shyness.”
It’s fair to say the Australian people hope “there is more to him than that” too, considering he is the preferred politician to lead the country at the moment.
— smh.com.au (@smh) August 18, 2015
A second report card a year later showed a remarkable improvement in the communication minister’s humility, with the don’s comments showing that behind every man with potential, there is an extraordinarily patient woman, in this case Lucy Hughes, daughter of Sydney barrister Tom Hughes, a former Liberal attorney-general.
“[Turnbull] found his level better in his second year when he was most happily married to an able and very nice wife and he found his B.C.L [bachelor of civil law] contemporaries in some instances abler than he is,” the warden noted.
“He buckled to and made a decent fist of it and now returns to Sydney having used Oxford well. He is less of a know-all than when he arrived but he is always going to enter life’s rooms without knocking, I would suppose, and his engaging ways will yield him a welcome, if not an immediate seat at the [Rhodes] council table.
“He is a good contributive personality with great good sense, much humour and quite a lot of ability – though not essentially of an academic sort.”
Mr Turnbull graduated from Oxford with honours in 1980.
The report cards were found among the confidential documents of former NSW governor Sir Roden Cutler. They were stored at the state archives and released for public access 30 years after he left office in 1981.
Do you think the don’s assessment of young Malcolm Turnbull holds true today? Does it describe the makings of a man who could lead the country?