Turnbull: I shouldn't have used polls to overthrow Abbott
PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has revealed he regrets citing 30 Newspoll losses in his overthrow of Tony Abbott, as he foreshadowed a reshuffle of his Cabinet to promote young, new talent for a strong team he plans to take to the federal election.
In wide-ranging interviews with The Daily Telegraph and the Miranda Devine Live show yesterday, a relaxed Mr Turnbull said he was proud of clearing "thorny" issues that had plagued him, from energy policy to same-sex marriage and outlined his plans to deliver tax cuts for middle-income Australians and to continue to grow the economy and create jobs.
He also revealed his reputation for having a fiery temper was undeserved, saying he ran a consultative Cabinet.
And hounded by calls to resign daily, Mr Turnbull's attitude to haters is that hatred gets you nowhere and it does more damage to the hater than their target.
He spoke of his plans to reshuffle his Cabinet, either this month or next, to refresh it with young talent.
While it has been long-planned, with Attorney-General George Brandis's expected move to replace Alexander Downer as the UK High Commissioner, Mr Turnbull said it was now pressing because of the vacancies thrown up as a result of the dual-citizenship saga.
"I'm focused on bringing new young people into the Cabinet," he said. "Reshuffles occur because vacancies occur and obviously we've had Fiona Nash, who is very sadly no longer in the Senate, we've got a new deputy leader of the national party, Scott Ryan has now become a Senate president, so we've got a couple of vacancies.
"So that's one factor. But reshuffles are times when prime ministers can reappraise the situation."
In policy terms, Mr Turnbull has had a successful year, but this is not reflected in the polls where he has trailed Labor for 24 in a row. And he admitted he regretted citing Tony Abbott's loss of 30 Newspolls as a reason to overthrow him.
"I do regret having said it, only because it allowed people to focus on that rather than the substantive reasons," he said. "The substantive reasons I stated were related to economic leadership and governance."
Questioned on whether he has needed to change his personality to be more consultative with colleagues, Mr Turnbull said his reputation - of having a fiery temper - is not correct and he has spent years in business where he always had partners, most of all his wife Lucy, who he describes as his partner in love and in business.
In a pointed reference to his predecessor's style of government, Mr Turnbull said his was more consultative and included no "captain's calls" that would be announced in the media before going to cabinet.
"My reputation that you've hinted at there, which I've read about, is actually, hasn't been entirely justified," he said.
"In Goldman Sachs, it's interesting thing, most businesses in Goldman at least when I was there, had co-heads. You typically had two and sometimes three people so I'm used to an environment where you are working collaboratively with others so I've always been naturally consultative and I think the cabinet system of government is the best that anyone has invented but it means you have got to respect it.
"The captain call phenomenon - I honestly don't think that works."
Since seizing the leadership, Mr Turnbull's significant list of achievements includes the Gonski education reforms, childcare reforms, media reform, finding a solution to energy policy, business tax cuts, moving to shut down Manus Island and striking an agreement to send refugees to the United States, and legislating same-sex marriage.
"There are very big achievements which we've been able to deliver despite not having anything near a majority in the Senate, with a one-seat majority in the house and a minority in the Senate we've got a lot through," he said. "You look at the thorny issues we've dealt with this year. The marriage issue, the energy issue."
Asked if he is the Prime Minister he had imagined being a decade ago, he said: "I'm going about the job of Prime Minister as I promised I would … and we're tackling one big issue after another. I'm providing the economic leadership that I said I would, I'm running a very traditional cabinet government, which I said I would and we're tackling one big issue after another."
Next year, Mr Turnbull said his primary focus is growing the economy, from jobs to investment and tax cuts for middle-income Australians, along with national security.
He confirmed he would launch the Home ¬Affairs Department in the coming weeks.
"It'll start this month and there's legislation to go through but we're hoping that will be bipartisan," the PM said. "The big priorities for me are keeping Australians safe and making sure there's more money in the pockets of hardworking Australian families and businesses.
"It is critically important we build on the momentum we've got in terms of economic growth. Our goal is personal income tax cuts. The extent and timing of that depends, we committed to bringing the budget back into balance in 2020-21, but I want everyone to understand that we're focused on helping middle income Australians."
Mr Turnbull said there was "widespread agreement" on his National Energy Guarantee which he expected to be signed-off on at COAG next year.
Mr Turnbull said the fact Sam Dastyari remains in Parliament was a scandal that was now engulfing Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, and it was an "indictment" that he was not putting Australia first by refusing to sack the senator him over his connection to China.
He said Mr Shorten had failed the test of an alternative prime minister.
"The most important thing for every prime minister is to put Australia first. That's the challenge for Bill Shorten. He's the guy that wants to be prime minister and his failure to deal with Sam Dastyari is an indictment. It's not just about Dastyari, this is about Bill Shorten."
Mr Turnbull dismissed the critics who continually call for him to step down and said he will stay as Prime Minister as long as the people want him - and for as long as his wife Lucy is happy for him to stay in the demanding job.
"I will stay as long as the people want me to stay and the people obviously include the most important people which is Lucy. We are both committed to public service," he said on the Miranda Devine Live show on dailytelegraph.com.au.
RELATIONSHIP WITH DONALD TRUMP
Mr Turnbull declined to comment on how US President Donald Trump was faring - "I'll leave that for others to comment on" - but said the pair genuinely bonded and understood each other.
"Trump and I were known quantities to each other," the PM said.
"Even though we hadn't met or done business together before he became president, which is surprising in a way, one of my best friends went to school with him, there's a lot of threads.
"When he's dealing with me and I'm dealing with him we're not dealing with people that we don't actually know in the best way which is through friends and connections as opposed to what you read in the media.
"We have a lot of friends in common. Donald trump knows a lot of people who know me very well.
"There are former Goldman partners in his administration, Stephen Mnuchin (Trump's Treasury secretary), Gary Cohn (Trump's chief economic adviser), I've worked with Steven and I've worked with Gary."