Crossbench senators have slammed Labor for its attack ads on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, amid reports he donates the equivalent of his entire salary to charity.
Victorian senator Derryn Hinch described Labor’s attack as “pretty low-life”.
“We all know he’s a self-made millionaire and fair enough,” he said.
The opposition’s new ad campaign, launched at the weekend, claims Mr Turnbull’s push for company tax cuts is motivated by greed because he stands to benefit hugely due to his multimillion-dollar investments.
Senator Hinch was also full of praise for Mr Turnbull over reports he donates about $550,000 to charity through his Turnbull Foundation – slightly more than his $528,000 prime ministerial salary
“The fact that he gives his salary to charity is very commendable,” he said.
Mr Turnbull and his wife, Lucy, are major contributors to the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation. The foundation says the Turnbulls have donated more than $1 million to the children’s hospital, “in particular for our cancer in-patient ward, of which they are naming rights sponsors”.
Mrs Turnbull – a former lord mayor of Sydney – served on the foundation’s board from 1998-2000 and has been an integral member of its Gold Dinner committee since 1998.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Turnbull also supports the Wayside Chapel in inner-Sydney and the Tribal Warrior Aboriginal Corporation in Redfern.
Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm said what politicians decided to do with their salaries was a “dignity question.”
“It’s a puerile debate,” the senator said of the Labor ads.
“The idea that because you’re rich you’re not qualified to have an opinion about what’s in the best interests of Australia is just ridiculous.”
Labor leader Bill Shorten insisted it wasn’t Mr Turnbull’s wealth that worried him.
“It is when he says stupid things,” he said, citing the Prime Minister’s “get rich parents” advice to young home buyers.
“I generally think Mr Turnbull is so out of touch with how millions of Australians live their life. That is the problem.”
But Labor senator Doug Cameron said the Prime Minister’s wealth meant he would get the largest benefit from the personal tax cuts approved by Parliament last week.
“Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Turnbull voted to give themselves a $7000 tax cut when the lowest income people in the country were receiving a pittance,” he said.