Just another religious spiv

By October 9, 2018Australian Politics

Stuart Robert was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2007 for the seat of Fadden, which is centred on the Gold Coast in southeastern Queensland. He was re-elected in 2010, 2013 and 20161. In his maiden speech, he referred to William Wilberforce as one of his great heroes for securing passage of the Slave Trade Act that abolished the slave trade throughout the Empire. He referred to Wilberforce’s “firm Christian commitment, his passion for justice and his unstinting resolve to fight for what was right” which had been a great personal inspiration2. It makes you wonder what Wilberforce would make of our incarceration of men, women and children on Manus and Nauru, seemingly in perpetuity.

Robert also references Edmund Burke in his maiden speech. Burke is often considered to be the founding father of modern conservatism; he opposed the taxation regime imposed on the American colonies, but opposed their independence. He was also an opponent of the French Revolution, and laid out why in his most famous text, ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’. A quote taken from this work is included in Robert’s speech (“to love the little platoons we belong to in society is the first principle … of public affections”)2. The section of Burke’s text from which this quote is taken, is one in which he condemns those members of the French nobility who supported the revolutionaries’ drive for political equality as a part of the rights of man. To Burke’s mind, these ‘turbulent, discontented men of quality’ had selfishly sacrificed their class and the stability of their nation for their own personal advantage. Placed in its context, the oft-cited ‘little platoons’ is really a rebuke to French aristocrats who had been disloyal to their class. This rebuke makes sense when you consider that Burke’s politics was all about his belief that the hoi polloi were incapable, and required the security of tradition and authority. Of course, Burke believed the aristocracy performed this crucial cultural role to safeguard this system3. It is not surprising Robert is a fan of Burke; the same sort of ‘born to rule’ mentality permeates the Liberal Party.

Stuart Robert first seriously crapped in his own government nest while he was Assistant Minister of Defence when he oversaw a mining deal between Nimrod Resources and the Chinese government owned company Minmetals. Nimrod Resources is run by a close friend of Roberts, Paul Marks, who also happens to be a major Liberal Party donor. Robert had travelled to China, stating that it was in a ‘personal capacity’. However, during that trip he took Nimrod Resources executives into a meeting with a Chinese government minster4. At the time, Robert is believed to have had shares in Nimrod Resources through his shareholding in Metallum Holdings5,6. The Chinese government apparently thought Robert was representing the Australian Government. The then Prime Minister Turnbull asked the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to review the circumstances and it concluded that he had breached the code of ministerial conduct, and he was given the bum’s rush from the ministry. It was subsequently revealed that Robert also took his ‘work phone’ on this trip to China, an appalling breach of security protocols7. That is what donating to the Liberal Party can get you: subservience of a politician, and one whose concern for the security of the nation is limited.

In April, 2017, Stuart Robert appeared as a witness before the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC)8 as part of Operation Belcarra, an investigation into the conduct of candidates involved in the 2016 local government elections for the Gold Coast City Council, Moreton Bay Regional Council, Ipswich City Council and Logan City Council8. Robert was accused of putting up supposedly ‘independent’ candidates, supposedly with no political ties, for the Gold Coast City Council elections. These two candidates, Kristyn Boulton and Felicity Stevenson, worked in Robert’s office at the time; Boulton for 8 years. There was a public outcry when it was found that these two women were anything but independent. Robert has denied having anything to do with local politics but clearly, that is a lie9.

In 2013, Robert intervened in aid of a development application, asking then Queensland Assistant Planning Reform Minister, Robert Molhoek to remove from a local council, the responsibility for a decision pending on a development application by Arden Property Group. The developer concerned, Derek William McCartney, with whom Robert maintained he had no personal relationship, paid $2,000 to attend a boat cruise fundraiser in June 2013 and another $5,000 to attend another fundraiser the following month. Both events were in aid of Robert’s 2013 election campaign. Robert has said that he was simply forwarding on the development enquiry from a constituent. But he has refused to say from whom the enquiry came, and given that the development was outside his electorate and outside his parliamentary responsibilities10, it makes you wonder what this was all about. It certainly has a smell about it.

In 2015, Robert wrote to the CEO of the Gold Coast City Council, again in support of a development application; this time it was the controversial Sunland Development. The lead lobbyist for Sunland, Simone Holzapfel (a former Abbott staffer) who was also interviewed by the CCC, stated that she made a ‘personal contribution’ of over $100,000 to the Fadden Forum, a Liberal-National Party slush fund. It was this slush fund which Robert was going to attempt to use to fund his two ‘independent’ candidates for Gold Coast City Council9.

Now Robert has come under scrutiny after it was revealed that for his home 4G broadband connection, taxpayers were charged $2,832 in just one month, and that he has been charging over $1,000 per month for his connection for over two years with the three months to May costing $2,000 per month. Robert told Fairfax Media that the high cost of his May bill was because he used 300Gb of data, so he had to pay extra for exceeding his 50Gb limit. Given that Optus offers unlimited 4G broadband for $90 per month and Exetel offers 250Gb per months for just $7011, one cannot help being suspicious of his explanation. What does 300Gb equate to? 100 hours of streaming high definition television; streaming 2600 hours of music; or playing 3,000 hours of online gaming12. I spend 6 or 7 hours a day online and only occasionally stream movies, and I do not even get close to strapping up a fraction of 300Gb in a month. So, are we paying for Robert’s family entertainment? If so, why? If not, for what are we paying?

Robert was promoted to the ministry, as Assistant Treasurer, after Morrison replaced Turnbull as Prime Minister. This despite the stench around Robert because of the China trip. The reason Robert has been promoted to the ministry is because he was one of Morrison’s numbers men, helping shore up the numbers to make sure Morrison won the ballot against Dutton and Bishop. The other of Morrison’s numbers men was now Special Minister of State, Alex Hawke. So what did Morrison do when the Robert 4G story came out? He asked Alex Hawke to investigate and report on the fiasco12. Does anyone think that Hawke will find anything untoward? If you do, you are monumentally gullible.

During the investigation by the media into these massive internet charges, it was noted that Robert had told parliament he had sold shares and resigned as director of two companies upon being elevated to the ministry by Morrison. However, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) records show that Robert only resigned as a director after being asked by The Weekend West why there was a discrepancy between ASIC records and his parliamentary disclosures13. This was some weeks after his elevation.

Robert was a founding director of Watoto Australia, an offshoot of the Ugandan-based Pentecostal Watoto Church and has called church leader Gary Skinner one of the “great influences” on his life. Watoto preaches to 24,000 people across 11 churches in Uganda. While helping orphans of war and AIDS, the church is virulently anti-gay and has contributed to violent homophobia in Uganda. Robert is on Watoto’s International Board and has travelled to Kampala (Uganda’s capital) many times to meet Skinner, most often at the expense of Watoto Australia, but at least twice at the expense of the Australian taxpayer, with that bill coming to nearly $20,000. Robert resigned the directorship of Watoto Australia when elevated to the ministry in 2013 by then Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The Watoto Church in Uganda states that it is in favour of pro-family legislation, and as part of that, it supported the anti-homosexuality bill which would have included the death penalty for homosexuality. The bill was eventually passed without the death penalty, the latter being reduced to life imprisonment. However, the bill was annulled by the nation’s constitutional court, but the bigots are attempting to resurrect it. While Robert states that he was not aware of Skinner’s views, he was strongly opposed to same-sex marriage, and has railed against “gay IVF” and proclaimed that “homosexual relationships are far more unstable that heterosexual ones”, in parliamentary speeches14. This is typical religious bigotry, so common in the Liberal and National Party15.

Stuart Robert epitomises the people in the Morrison government; an entitled, bigoted, religious nutter who has his snout firmly planted in the taxpayer-funded trough. I have been following politics for several decades, and this government is the most corrupt I have seen in all that time. If they win the next federal election, it will be the end of our democracy.

Sources

  1. https://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Parliamentarian?MPID=HWT
  2. http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2F2008-02-13%2F0125%22
  3. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/edmund-burke-the-big-society-and-the-politics-of-paternalism/
  4. https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/malcolm-turnbull-sacks-stuart-robert-over-china-trip-20160212-gmsbtc.html
  5. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-15/mark-dreyfus-refers-stuart-robert-china-trip-to-afp/7167086
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/feb/12/stuart-robert-loses-job-as-minister-following-china-trip-furore
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/apr/11/stuart-robert-china-breached-security-work-phone-sayslabor
  8. http://www.ccc.qld.gov.au/corruption/operation-belcarra/operation-belcarra-public-hearings
  9. https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/stuart-robert-fibs-and-crony-contradicts-him-at-qld-ccc-corruption-inquiry,10221
  10. https://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/robert-went-to-bat-for-200m-block/2968329/
  11. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/06/liberal-mp-stuart-robert-to-repay-huge-home-internet-bills
  12. https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/scott-morrison-wants-answers-on-stuart-robert-s-internet-bills-20181005-p507yh.html
  13. https://thewest.com.au/politics/federal-politics/federal-minister-stuart-robert-removed-from-company-that-charged-taxpayers-for-internet-ng-b88982344z
  14. https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/turnbull-mp-stuart-roberts-close-ties-to-antigay-african-church-20160930-grsgi8.html
  15. http://www.blotreport.com/australian-politics/abbotts-true-bigotry/

 

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