Politics Analysis

Stuart Robert's memory seems to be slipping

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Stuart Robert had a hard time sticking to the truth on his recent Q+A appearance (Screenshot via YouTube - edited)

Claims made by Stuart Robert on a recent episode of Q&A come undone when the evidence is examined, writes Belinda Jones.

IT’S SAID THAT in order to be a good liar, one must have a good memory.

Stuart Robert, MP for Fadden, has a very poor memory.

On Thursday night, the former embattled Morrison Government Minister appeared on ABC’s Q&A and was questioned about his shares in Greywolf Resources.

The question stemmed from the previous Monday’s Four Corners program – ‘The Wolf of Woy Woy’ – about Greywolf Resources. In that program, Stuart Robert was revealed as the Coalition MP who had invested in Greywolf Resources. Robert had listed his Greywolf Resources shares on his interests register simply as ‘GWR’.

Despite promises by Greywolf Resources to many investors, the company was never listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and was never known by the acronym GWR. GWR was simply how Stuart Robert chose to describe his Greywolf Resources shares on his interests register.

On Q&A, Robert was asked a question by a fellow Greywolf Resources investor, Lorraine Fitzjohn, about how he managed to sell his Greywolf Resources shares when so many investors had been unable to and had lost everything. Robert stated he had “written off” his shares and had also “lost everything” he had invested as other investors had. Robert refused to disclose how many shares he had purchased and written off.

Robert went on to say that he had been “instructed” by then-Treasurer Scott Morrison to divest his shares the day before Morrison became Prime Minister and five days prior to Robert becoming the Assistant Treasurer.

Robert replied to the questioner:

“I did buy shares and when I became Assistant Treasurer in 2018, I was instructed to sell them. I had five days, so I wrote them off for zero gain. So I lost everything the same as you, by the way.”

Stuart Robert became Assistant Treasurer on 28 August 2018, four days after the second Liberal leadership challenge in the week which saw Morrison become the 30th Prime Minister on 24 August 2018.

Which begs the question: How could then-Treasurer Morrison have advised Robert to divest his shares before the second leadership ballot had been held?

Robert first specifically listed his Greywolf Resources shares on 16 February 2018, prior to that he simply listed ‘Robert Investment House Pty Ltd’ in relation to his shareholdings.

Despite updating his interests in August and September 2018, no mention was made of divesting any Greywolf Resources shares. Robert did not update his interests in relation to Greywolf Resources shares until 23 October 2018, well outside the 30-day time limit for updating his interests if indeed he was following the then-Treasurer Morrison’s directive to divest in August 2018. 

Robert stated on his interests register that his Greywolf Resources shares ‘Has been sold’.

(Source: Parliament of Australia website)

Then Thursday on Q&A, he claimed to have written them off and that he too was an “aggrieved shareholder”. He also claimed that he had no connection with Greywolf Resources other than being an investor. He failed to mention gifts of wine and handbags given to him by Greywolf Resources and recorded on his interests in April 2011 and May 2012.

Throughout his parliamentary career, Robert has had a litany of transgressions, including having to repay almost $38,000 in home internet charges, naming his father as a director of a company without his knowledge, accepting a pigeon pair of Rolex watches worth $100,000 from Liguancheng Group yet not officially returning them and being dumped from Cabinet by then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a business trip to China, to name a few.

But wait, there’s more.

If we examine Robert’s interests register carefully, there is a glaring anomaly in relation to property listed.

In his interests register for the 43rd Parliament, Robert listed his ‘Family home’ as the property of his spouse, Chantelle Robert. In Question 6 on his 43rd Parliament interests register, he listed Chantelle Robert as having the liability for the ‘Home loan — NAB’. On the same register on 20 September 2011, Robert updated his interests deleting the ‘Home loan’.  

On Robert’s interests register for the 44th Parliament, lodged 4 December 2013, he lists his spouse as owning the ‘Family home’ with ‘Nil’ liabilities on the property and then another ‘Home loan — NAB’ appears, this time in Stuart Robert’s name. This second home loan is never deleted and does not appear again on any of his interest registers as a liability.  

Robert does not clarify what the second home loan relates to — at this stage Robert did not own a home, his spouse did and the previous home loan had been deleted from the register almost two years prior.

In his 45th Parliament register, Robert listed his real estate holdings as ‘Personal home — Nerang, QLD’.  By the 46th Parliament, the family home was once again listed as the property of Chantelle Robert. Then in his 47th Parliament interests register, Robert listed this Nerang property as ‘Residential’ and owned by both him and his wife, yet there have not been updates to correspond with the family home changing ownership at any time.

(Source: Parliament of Australia website)

Further discrepancies can be found on Question 9 of Robert’s interests register — his assets have appeared and disappeared over time, too.

In the 43rd Parliament, he listed no assets valued at over $7,500. By the 44th Parliament, his register listed a ‘Rare coin collection’ and ‘Robert super fund’. In the 45th Parliament, Robert listed only an ‘Australian historical coin collection and Australian contemporary coin collection’. Now, for those astute investors in the know, numismatics is an easy, tax-free way to invest large amounts of money.

By the 46th Parliament, Robert’s assets had grown to include: ‘Blind Trust; Vehicles: Hilux SR5, BMW X3, Yamaha 650VS, Yamaha 125, 1930 Austin 7; Australian Coin Collection’. Robert must have gotten rid of four of his vehicles by the 47th Parliament as his assets listed this time were: ‘Watch collection; Australian coins collection; Cuff links collection; Book royalties; Life insurance policy — AIA; SMSF; 1930 Austin 7’.

(Source: Parliament of Australia website)

That watch collection must include that pigeon pair of Rolex watches worth $100,000 gifted to Robert and his wife by Chinese billionaire Li Ruipeng because he has never deleted them from his interests register, despite saying anecdotally that he had returned them but offering no evidence to support his claim. Officially, he still has them.

It’s safe to say that Stuart Robert’s pecuniary interests register during his time in Parliament are akin to a dog’s breakfast and warrant a thorough forensic audit to clarify the obvious inaccuracies.

You can follow Belinda Jones on Twitter @belindajones68.

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