Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is reportedly set to earn $100,000 on the international speaking circuit after signing with a US talent agency.
The axed prime minister has signed with the Greater Talent Network, (GTN) a New York agency that represents actors including Mark Ruffalo, Laura Linney, Grammy award-winner Paula Abdul, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein and Golden State Warriors NBA president Bob Myers.
His profile – sandwiched between Seinfeld star Jason Alexander and TV personality Judge Faith Jenkins – explains Mr Turnbull “just left office” after serving three years as the 29th Prime Minister of Australia.
The speaking circuit can be a wonderful money-spinner for ex-politicians. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2016 that former US president Bill Clinton and wife Hillary netted “more than $US150 million ($208 million) from speaking alone after he left the White House”.
“Her [Hillary] husband’s collection of fees from corporations of as much as $US750,000 ($1.04 million) for a single speech is a source of relentless charges of conflict of interest from critics,” the Times reported.
Communications adviser Stephen Mayne told The New Daily the pursuit of paid political speeches was slightly controversial for a rich individual like Mr Turnbull, who lives in a Sydney “harbourside mansion”.
“But I think the argument goes, if you want to be an international statesman, you shouldn’t give yourself away for free,” Mr Mayne said.
“Every PM needs someone to handle their speeches, but the way to handle the optics is to donate the speaker fee to a worthwhile cause.” Mr Mayne said.
Mr Mayne said the speaking circuit wasn’t widely reported, but was a big industry for journalists and politicians.
“It’s far better to be on the talk circuit than become a lobbyist,” he said.
The US agency claims Mr Turnbull “possesses a unique and incredibly timely understanding of the current geopolitical moment” and has forged “lasting connections with leaders around the world”.
With a career spanning journalism, law, business and politics, Mr Turnbull is touted as a “New to GTN” speaker who created policies that “altered Australian society” and the world. GTN also noted his role in environmental conservation, energy crises, global trade, cyber security and the refugee crisis.
The career move post politics follows Mr Turnbull’s appearance on Australia’s behalf at a climate change summit in Bali, where he met President Joko Widodo last week.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison seemed to regret Mr Turnbull’s continued representation after the former prime minister remarked at the conference that he had “serious concerns” about the incoming PM’s decision to consider moving Australia’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Mr Morrison later expressed his disappointment to 2GB Radio about Mr Turnbull’s comments and echoed Peter Dutton’s comments that former prime ministers should not interfere in current political issues.
“I got the report back from his visit. The issue of trade and other things was not really part of his brief,” Mr Morrison told the radio station.
“I’m always going to act with respect to previous prime ministers, regardless of who they are. But I do think the exemplar about how to go about things post-politics is John Howard, and on the Labor Party side, it’s Julia Gillard,” he said.
Mr Howard and Ms Gillard are also among the ranks of former PMs to join the speaking circuit, listed among political speakers with Australian speakers bureau, Saxton.
Former PM Bob Hawke, former Greens leader Bob Brown and former treasurers Peter Costello and Wayne Swan are also on the agency’s bill.