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10 ways Malcolm Turnbull could change Australia for the better.

It’s happened: Malcolm Turnbull is the new Prime Minister of Australia.

Yesterday, Malcolm Turnbull resigned from Cabinet and announced his intention to challenge Tony Abbott for the top job.

By late last night, Turnbull won the vote 54-44 — becoming Australia’s 29th Prime Minister (and the third first-term PM in five years).

malcolm turnbull policies
Our new PM, Malcolm Turnbull. (Photo: Getty Images)

He’s got quite a to-do list, so we have prioritised it for him to make it easier for the new PM to decide what he should get onto first.

Here are 10 ways he could change Australia for the better:

1. He could legalise marriage equality.

Turnbull is in favour of marriage equality, and has previously supported proposals for a conscience vote on the issue among Liberals. However, a Coalition party room meeting in August rejected that approach and settled on a plebiscite to resolve the issue instead — and Turnbull has reportedly told Party room members he will stick to that existing plan.

At least Turnbull hasn’t described same-sex marriage as a “fad,” we suppose…

2. He could introduce an emissions trading scheme (ETS).

Turnbull has long had a more progressive stance on climate change than his predecessor Abbott, who once described the science on climate change as “absolute crap”.

When he was Liberal leader back in 2008, Turnbull told his party room: “I will not lead a party that is not as committed to effective action on climate change as I am.” (Unfortunately, the party room didn’t see it his way. They refused to back his support for the Rudd government’s ETS — and voted in Abbott as leader instead.)

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For now, Turnbull has reportedly promised he won’t reintroduce an ETS and will wait and see what Abbott’s existing Direct Action policy achieves, Guardian Australia reports.

Sigh.

Still, there’s arguably more hope for strong leadership on climate action now than before.

3. He could take real action on family violence.

The scourge of family violence across Australia has finally started to make front-page headlines across the country. But Tony Abbott failed to take dramatic and decisive action on the issue despite being “Minister for Women,” and even though domestic violence is claiming two women’s lives every week.

malcolm turnbull policies
New Liberal party leader and PM Malcolm Turnbull with deputy leader of the party, Julie Bishop. (Photo: Getty Images)

We need a leader with a clear, inspiring vision for actual change when it comes to family and intimate partner violence — and we’re hoping Turnbull can be that leader.

Perhaps he could start by appointing a Women’s Minister who (a) cares deeply about gender equality and/or (b) is, in fact, a woman.

4. He could reverse the $100k degrees.

While Turnbull is more progressive on some issues than many of his peers, let’s not forget that he “wholeheartedly” put his name to the deregulation of Australian universities in the 2015 Federal Budget.

The privatisation and deregulation of our unis meant that $1.1 billion would be withdrawn from higher education over three years — and that Australian unis would be able to set their own fees (leading to concerns about “$100,000 degrees”).

Turnbull now has a chance to make a change for the better in this area.

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5. He might make us a republic.

Here’s a fact you might not know about our new PM: he’s an outspoken republican.

In fact, in the late ’90s he was widely known for that cause; he was Chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, and was active in the 1999 referendum campaign for Australia to become a republic.

He has even written a book on the issue, leading us to wonder whether he’ll reintroduce republicanism as a major political issue.

6. He could appoint more women to leadership positions.

A shake-up in the front bench is almost inevitable now that Abbott’s gone, and Q&A host Tony Jones last night predicted new appointments to the front bench including more women.

As there were only two women in Abbott’s Cabinet (one to begin with, until Sussan Ley’s appointment to Cabinet in December), we think it’s about time women were equally represented in Parliament — and Turnbull has a chance to get the ball rolling.

Call us crazy, but Turnbull might even consider appointing a woman as Minister for Women this time.

malcolm turnbull policies
Tony Abbott’s Cabinet originally had just one woman: Julie Bishop. (Photo: Getty)

7. He could restore pensions.

In case you missed it, the government confirmed big changes to the pension in the 2015 Budget that left a lot of part-pension recipients unhappy.

Essentially, those changes to the assets threshold and tapering rates meant that thousands of part-pension recipients had their payments slashed or totally withdrawn, Guardian Australia reports. (At the same time, the changes ensured an increase in funding to 170,000 others on full pension.)

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The result of the Abbott government’s changes to the pension, Labor argued, was a devastating loss to 90,000-odd pensioners despite the fact they “were not rich people on high incomes,” ABC News reports.

Turnbull now has an opportunity to restore those slashed part-pensions.

8. He could introduce a more humane refugee policy.

Abbott was recently singled out in a scathing New York Times editorial for his cruel obsession with ‘stopping the boats,’ and the United Nations has repeatedly criticised Australia‘s inhumane mandatory detention policy.

Now, with public opinion taking on a more empathetic flavour following the widely publicised death of young refugee Aylan Kurdi, the time could be right for Turnbull to reframe Australia’s refugee debate.

Although he recently attracted criticism from some human rights campaigners when he argued for accepting more Syrian Christian — rather than Muslim — refugees, Turnbull at least told reporters earlier this month that Australians needed to have “big hearts” and review their response to refugees.

It remains to be seen exactly how that will translate into policy, admittedly. But we’d love to see all children out of closed detention, for starters.

9. He could do something about housing affordability.

Housing prices are officially insane, and nowhere more so than in Sydney and Melbourne.

The Federal government could step in to help change that in a number of ways: it could change tax concessions for local investors or it could move to limit investment by foreign parties, for example.

The ball’s in your court, Malcolm.

10. He could support better access to abortion.

Although he and Abbott are both Catholics, Turnbull has a very different view of abortion than his predecessor.

Abbott has described abortion as both “national tragedy” and “the easy way out,” while our newest PM is pro-choice — and that can only be a good thing for women.

Abortion laws are determined by each state or territory, but Abbott previously used his Federal role to meddle in access to abortion — proposing the addition of a Medicare item number for counselling to lower the national abortion rate, for example.

Thankfully, we can expect Turnbull’s leadership to be free of any sneaky moves towards restricting women’s reproductive rights.

Abbott (R) has described abortion as both “national tragedy” and “the easy way out,” while our newest PM Malcolm Turnbull (L) is pro-choice.

Malcolm Turnbull has the chance to make some bold, strategic, progressive decisions for Australia’s future.

Please, Malcolm. Don’t screw it up.

What would you like to see Prime Minister Turnbull do?

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