Turnbull’s son is off the leash
HE promised to be more publicly vocal after his dad's ousting as prime minister, and Alex Turnbull hasn't disappointed.
The Singapore-based banker's use of social media is shaping up to be a thorn in the side of Scott Morrison's government - and an unexpected weapon for Labor.
Over the past 10 days, Turnbull junior has posted and retweeted views on everything from energy policy to Peter Dutton's au pair visa saga.
But it was a stinging endorsement of a Labor candidate running in Malcolm Turnbull's vacated eastern Sydney seat of Wentworth that packed a punch.
And while Mr Morrison smiled and shrugged off the blow, privately he would be fuming about the show of support to the Opposition in a must-win electorate.
A CASH BOON
The former PM's son shared a link on Saturday to the online fundraiser for the Labor candidate in Wentworth, Tim Murray, who is also his friend. He wrote that giving to his cause would be the "best bang for the buck you'll get in political donations in your life".
"Tight race, tight margin for government, big incremental effect whatever happens. If you want a federal election now this is the means by which to achieve it," he wrote.
It prompted a flurry of financial contributions, including one from wealthy hedge fund manager John Hempon, who tweeted to Mr Murray: "$1000 headed your way. My first political donation above $5."
When asked about how the involvement had been received by Labor, a party source told news.com.au: "We're certainly not complaining."
The Turnbull family has a strong standing in the top end of town, given Malcolm and Lucy's business and community prowess.
Their son's financial industry background also puts him in close contact with the who's who of Australian business.
Spruiking Mr Murray's campaign could open doors to donors who are either upset at the treatment the former PM copped from his own party or concerned about the government's tone on banking and energy.
Wentworth is shaping up to be a tight race. A poll of voters after the Liberal Party spill showed a massive slump in both the primary and two-party preferred standings.
The party is also yet to preselect a candidate, with Tony Abbott's sister Christine Forster today withdrawing her interest.
Before the leadership chaos that saw Mr Morrison take Canberra's top job, Mr Murray had only an outside chance of being elected.
Now he stands a shot at snatching the coveted seat and torpedoing the government's one-seat majority.
"(Alex) said 'What can I do to help?' and I said 'Oh I'm not sure it's early days' and then boom off he went," Mr Murray told AAP.
"Alex is a pretty independent thinker just like his dad. I doubt Malcolm is feeling a lot of love for the Liberal Party at the moment."
Mr Murray has been described by Alex Turnbull as "a great candidate" who he was confident in supporting.
'A BIG UP-YOURS'
Senator Derryn Hinch said Alex Turnbull's foray into political discourse was a blow to the Liberal Party at a time when it craved stability.
Appearing on Sunrise this morning, the senator agreed with co-host David Koch's assessment that the vocal support of Labor in Wentworth was "a big up-yours" to the government.
But Alex has phrased it differently on Twitter, saying he was putting Australia's interest before party loyalty.
"If you want blind unthinking faith, you can go to a place of worship," he wrote to a Twitter user accusing him of orchestrating payback on his father's behalf.
"If all you are is barracking for a football team in politics you're just a useful idiot foot soldier for the vested interests that run the place. Wake up."
He also shared a campaign video produced by Mr Murray and delivered a blunt critique of the Liberal Party's internal focus.
"The extreme right of Australian politics doesn't really seem to have coherent objectives at all," he wrote.
When asked about the curious turn of events at a press conference yesterday, Mr Morrison said "it strikes me as democracy".
For his part, Malcolm Turnbull said his son was free to speak on any issue he liked.
"My son's 36 and he's entitled to his own political opinions," Mr Turnbull said when asked about the comments by Channel 7.
"Now that he's no longer the son of the prime minister he's able to express his views on all sorts of issues in a way that he hasn't been before."
NOT FOLLOWING DAD'S LEAD
Suggestions Alex would follow in his father's footsteps and swap business for politics have been shot down.
When encouraged to run, he has emphatically said he has no parliamentary ambition.
"I have zero interest in elected office," he said. "Not going to happen."
But he looks set to continue his headline-making commentary about politics and the government.
"Will have some chunkier stuff to write at some point but not sure here is the right medium. This is fun but not much of a way forward," he wrote on Twitter.
Mr Turnbull declined a request for an interview.
Continue the conversation with Shannon Molloy on Twitter @sleemol