Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard has admitted she smoked dope while at university, but didn’t like it.

After federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday admitted he had smoked marijuana in the past, Gillard admitted she too had tried it.

“At university, tried it, didn’t like it,” she told Fairfax Radio Network in Melbourne on Friday.

“I think probably many Australian adults would be able to make the same statement so I don’t think it matters one way or the other.”

Gillard said she did not think it mattered that Turnbull had confessed to smoking dope in the past.

“I can’t imagine that it matters in any way shape or form, no.”

Turnbull – the man who could be Australia’s next prime minister – admitted he had smoked pot during an hour-long one-on-one interview on ABC Television’s Q&A program.

While his response attracted a chorus of laughter from the live studio audience, and probably some gasps from other viewers, Turnbull was quick to point out that it is something he now considers a mistake.

“It is a serious question and it’s a serious issue, and yes I have smoked pot … many people have. It was a mistake to do so,” he said.

“I think people of (my) generation … I hope, had we known when we were much younger the severe consequences that can come from smoking marijuana, I would hope we wouldn’t have done so.

“I think now with what we know about marijuana, I think it is a very serious drug, and it is a drug that we should strongly discourage everybody, be they young or old, but obviously particularly young people from using.”

The admission is one his rival across the parliamentary chamber would be unlikely to make.

But Turnbull appeared keen to point out he is a vastly different man from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

“Kevin Rudd and I have very different political views,” he said.

“I believe that the role of government is to enable people to do their best.”

“Whereas I think Rudd has a different view, a view that is perhaps a more bureaucratic view, that sees government as knowing best.”

“I don’t think that respects the individuality, the diversity, the ingenuity of millions of Australians.”

He maintains they are also vastly different in terms of who they look to as the core influences in their lives.

Rudd cites the German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as his personal hero.

Turnbull says his hero is his father Bruce, who raised him alone after his mother left when he was young.

“He wasn’t a great theologian, but he had much more influence on me than I suspect Dietrich Bonhoeffer has had on Kevin Rudd, to be honest,” he said.

The former Rhodes scholar, lawyer and merchant banker, did not, however, bare his soul completely.

He refused to confirm if he was the deep throat that sank Kerry Packer’s 1991 takeover bid for Fairfax media group, which would have been in breach of cross-media ownership laws in place at the time.

It is claimed Turnbull provided information to the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal that showed Packer was lying about his plans to control Fairfax.

“I’m neither denying nor confirming,” he said.

“I think it’s important that there still be an air of mystery.”

“Look at all these books (Peter) Costello’s selling – there’s got to be something left for my memoirs.”