When Robert’s former business partner and friend told the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit last month that the then-Member for Fadden Stuart Robert “would still be a beneficiary of the discretionary trust, as a potential beneficiary”, it was the last gasp in his political air supply.
Those words sealed Robert’s fate because in his interests register, he had deleted the Australian Property Trust in 2018. That was the moment the labyrinth of Robert’s unnecessarily tangled web of personal financial matters unravelled and it came from “friendly fire”.
Stuart Robert’s chequered political career began in 2007, with the first six years spent in Opposition. In 2013, then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott elevated Robert to the outer ministry despite his 2012 scandal over a speech, which contained sections written by a lobbyist.
During this time, Robert was also embroiled in the scandal over a his-and-hers boxed set of Rolex watches.
When Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister in 2015, he made Robert a Minister. During this time, Robert, together with Scott Morrison, conceived and implemented the scheme that would later become known as "Robodebt".
While on the backbench, Robert continued his penchant for scandal when it was revealed he had named his elderly parents as the only directors of one of his own companies and used their address without their knowledge, and declaring he had "ceased involvement" in that company.
In 2017, Robert penned his book ‘In the Footsteps of Jesus’ and, whilst swearing on the Bible, appeared before the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) over bankrolling "independent" candidates in local council elections.
While relegated to the backbench, he assumed the position of Scott Morrison’s "numbers man" and was intrinsic in toppling Turnbull in August 2018. Morrison rewarded his fellow Pentecostal and Canberra housemate by elevating him to Cabinet, once again.
Within months, Robert was again embroiled in yet another scandal when he claimed $38,000 for his residential internet costs, which he was forced to repay.
Coincidentally, around the same time, Robert’s Metro Pentecostal Church on the Gold Coast launched its Christian TV streaming service. Robert remained in the Morrison Ministry while promoting trips to Israel with then-Metro Church pastor, Garry “Garry Mac” McDonald.
Then came his fateful admission to the Robodebt Royal Commission, launched by the incoming Labor Government, that he had misled the Australian public because he was a “dutiful Cabinet Minister” maintaining Cabinet solidarity.
Despite his litany of transgressions, when recently asked if he had any regrets about his career, Stuart Robert’s reply was that he “had too few to mention”.
He had only one, Robert then said in an interview with the local News Corp rag, the Gold Coast Bulletin: that he didn’t keep the Gold Coast "purely blue".
THE LAST PIECE OF THE PUZZLE
When Robert’s former business partner and friend told the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, last month, that Stuart Robert “would still be a beneficiary of the discretionary trust [Australian Property Trust], as a potential beneficiary”, the final piece of the puzzle fell into place.
The Liberal National Party of Queensland stood by Stuart Robert for his entire political career, despite all these transgressions, because he was a major fundraiser for the party, dubbed one of the “million dollar men”.
The people of Fadden were the last thing on Stuart Robert’s mind while he was a Member of Parliament.
It was announced on Monday that a by-election for Fadden will be held on 15 July 2023. An LNP factional war is currently being played out to decide who will represent the party in Fadden, no candidate has yet been announced. One thing, however, is clear: the people of Australia will be better off with Robert far away from the decision-making levers of Australian public policy. Good riddance.
[John Margerison is a former business associate of Stuart Robert. You can read more about Independent Australia's investigation into Robert and Margerison and other of their further connections in Belinda Jones' regular column on Saturday, 27 May at 8 am.]