Malcolm Turnbull’s 18 Month “Administrative Error” with an NBN Investment….

By Kate Doak.
By Kate Doak.

A few weeks ago I wrote a couple of articles on some investments that The Turnbulls have made over the past few years in NBN contractors such as Siemens AG and Hochtief AG.  While Lucy and Malcolm Turnbull disposed of their shares in Siemens back in late 2011, according to Mr Turnbull’s Federal Statement of Pecuniary Interests at the time I wrote my original story, they still owned their shares in Hochtief, which owns 55% of Silcar Communications parent company, Leighton Holdings.

Photo courtesy of ABC News and ABC 7.30 - 9/4/13
Photo courtesy of ABC News and ABC 7.30 – 9/4/13

Fast forward a couple of weeks and Mr Turnbull has done a pretty abrupt about-face in regards to the Hochtief AG shares, stating that an “Administrative Error” stopped the shares from being listed as sold in February 2012 in his Pecuniary Interests.  Given that between Leighton Holdings subsidiaries  Silcar Communications ($1.1Billion) and Visionstream (approximately $2 Billion) that Hochtief AG stands to make a lot of money from NBN contracts, it is surprising that The Honourable Shadow Minister for Communications is now missing out on what would be a rather decent return for that particular firm and its subsidiaries over the coming years, given his knack for making profitable longterm investments.

What’s even more surprising though is that Mr Turnbull didn’t realise that the “administrative error” had reportedly taken place, until an intrepid young journalist wrote about Mrs Lucy Turnbull still owning shares in the NBN contractor, close to 18 months after the sale reportedly took place.

(Mr Turnbull’s latest Pecuniary Interests Statement is attached in the full version of this article)

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Now both Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull are extremely intelligent people, which is just one of the many reasons why I respect them as much as I do.  Having gone from nothing to everything, they symbolise some of the best qualities that the fair-go and work-hard character of Australia has to offer. Needless to say, given the importance of Pecuniary Interest statements as a safeguard for politicians against accusations of corruption (e.g. like those made against people like the Former NSW Legislative Assembly Speaker, Northern Tablelands MP and University of New England Chancellor, Richard Torbay), it is nothing short of stunning that the both of them would allow such an embaressing (and potentially troublesome) mistake to occur within their pecuniary interests register.

Now while everyone is human and nobody is perfect, I now can’t help but wonder if there’s any other “administrative errors” that have occured within The Turnbulls’ Pecuniary Interests statements.  Furthermore, you’ve got to wonder what price between €48 and €55 the shares were sold for, given the fluctuation of Hochtief AG shares within the German Xetra stockmarket throughout February 2012, as well as whether or not the rollout of NBN contracts throughout this period had an impact on the share prices of both Hochtief AG and Siemens AG when the shares were sold.

Needless to say, I honestly and respectfully hope that one of Australia’s most promising politicians, respected business leaders and smartest lawyers can explain how this “administrative error” was allowed to occur and how he plans on ensuring that such oversights are unlikely to occur again.