Politics Opinion

Nothing 'Honourable' about scandal-ridden Stuart Robert's tipped retirement

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Stuart Robert introduced the cruel and failed Robodebt scheme in 2016 (Screenshot via YouTube)

L-NP politician Stuart Robert announced his intention to retire – for 'family reasons' – shortly after an audit uncovered possible corrupt activities during his time in the Morrison Government, writes Belinda Jones.

*Also listen to the audio version of this article on Spotify HERE.

AS THE SUN sets on Stuart Robert’s political career, the people of Fadden in Queensland prepare to head to a by-election. Meanwhile, the controversial L-NP politician faces more questions arising from recent inquiries into his activities during his time in Federal Government.

In what reads like a movie script, details from last month’s Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) reveal a sordid tale of emails to a strange, six-digit non-government Gmail account owned by Stuart Robert, stolen data, a police report, a blockbuster story knocked back by The Australian (eventually published by Nine) and confirmation Stuart Robert had a financial interest in a company he awarded a $3.5 million contract when he was a Coalition Government Minister.

Shortly after all this was revealed, Stuart Robert announced his intention to retire for "family reasons".

Robert began his scandal-ridden political career in 2007 and spent the first six years in Opposition. His first of many, many transgressions proved to be in 2012 when he delivered a speech to Parliament, partly written by a lobbyist, which imperilled the court case of an Australian man wrongly detained for five years in Dubai. However, this would prove to be quite tame by Robert’s evolving prowess for scandal.

He ascended to the front bench in 2015 under Malcolm Turnbull — around this time, Robert introduced what would become known as Robodebt.

Amid scandals over Rolex watches and a trip to China, Robert soon found himself back on the backbench again a mere five months later.

A scandal-ridden Robert languished on the back bench until August 2018. But, he wasn’t entirely idling away the years; he did bankroll two former staffers who stood as "independents" and secretly used his father as a director of one of his companies without his knowledge. 

Robert was creative and often tardy with his interests register. He reportedly lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in poor investment decisions in mining and cryogenic companies. When, as Scott Morrison’s "numbers man", he garnered the numbers to topple Turnbull in a move none in the Liberal Party room expected, newly sworn-in Prime Minister Morrison restored Robert to the ministry.

Robert rewarded Morrison’s trust in him by racking up a $38,000 internet bill and trying to get taxpayers to pay for it. Now, you’d think after all that Robert would’ve got his act together, but no, the scandals continued, the mistakes, the hubris, arrogance, the doubling-down. 

There was the failed COVID app, a blind trust, the fake “cyber-attack” claim and the most devastating of all his scandals, Robodebt, and his admission at the Robodebt Royal Commission that he misled the Australian public because he was a “dutiful Cabinet Minister”. He showed little to no remorse for the victims yet claimed he took “responsibility” for the heinous and illegal scheme that cost taxpayers almost $2 billion in compensation.

Underpinning the values Robert claimed to espouse during his political career was his devout Pentecostal faith and his dedication to the teachings of the church, particularly the Seven Mountains doctrine and the Prosperity Gospel. In reality, they were just euphemisms for unhealthy obsessions with power and money that would ultimately spell the end of his disastrous political career.

It speaks volumes about the ethos of the religious order that two of the highest profile Pentecostals in Australia, Scott Morrison and Stuart Robert, failed so comprehensively in their moral duty to the Australian people.

The Queensland L-NP must also bear responsibility for Robert’s embarrassing and inherently damaging career: members knew his character but ignored scandal after scandal because he was reportedly a "good fundraiser" — even dubbed one of the 'million-dollar men'

Let that sink in. I mean, really, sink in.

A major party, the Queensland L-NP, allowed Stuart Robert to sit in Parliament and in Cabinet, feathering his own nest, feathering the nests of his mates, and making catastrophic decisions because it believed he was good at raising money. If these are the L-NP’s core ethics, then it doesn't deserve to be in any form of representative government in a functioning democracy.

And it is, for this reason, the Queensland L-NP can never be trusted with any Queensland seat ever again — particularly Fadden. The L-NP has proven it will overlook incompetence and alleged corruption for money, betraying Queenslanders who trust the party with their votes, as it did in Stuart Robert’s case time after time.

The people of Fadden also put their trust in Stuart Robert. He has never apologised to Fadden constituents for that betrayal. Neither has the Queensland L-NP.

In his final audacious act, Robert bows out of public life on the pretext of “family reasons”, which is probably about as honest as anything he has ever said in public life. 

He still doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to be honest with the public and to genuinely apologise for the wrong he’s done. He'd rather gracelessly double down and deny, deny, deny — all the way to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

Stuart Robert will leave politics with a legacy of disgrace and incompetence, which makes him completely undeserving of the title "Honourable". 

*This article is also available on audio here:

You can follow Belinda Jones on Twitter @belindajones68.

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