Federal MP Stuart Robert has unenviable form
A credit to the noble profession? A product of Turnbull’s inaction!
ABC February 12 2016: Stuart Robert is resigning from the Turnbull ministry after an internal investigation revealed he has shares in a trust linked to the mining company of a generous Liberal donor.
SMH September 27 2016: A speech Turnbull government MP Stuart Robert gave to Parliament defending the Gold Coast property developer Sunland was substantially written by the lead lobbyist for the company.
ABC April 18 2017: Federal Government backbencher Stuart Robert says he bankrolled the campaigns of two independent candidates in last year’s Gold Coast council election to stop Labor gaining power. Mr Robert, the member for the Gold Coast seat of Fadden, has denied any wrongdoing while testifying before the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC).
Liberal MP Stuart Robert tells CCC he bankrolled independent council candidates to block Labor
The CCC is looking at claims of candidate misconduct during the Gold Coast, Ipswich and Moreton Bay local government elections.
Mr Robert told the inquiry he helped two former staffers who decided to run as Gold Coast council independents because he feared they would come up against union-backed opponents.
“$50,000 or $60,000 to two candidates is a lot of money by community standards, I appreciate it,” he said.
“[If] the Labor Party gets a foothold I will have to spend a lot more money defending our ideas than that.”
Mr Robert said he did not normally get involved in local politics, but feared “serious implications” for his own political future if Labor came to power.
In February last year, Mr Robert was found to have acted “inconsistently with ministerial standards” over his links to a mining company owned by a Liberal donor.
He resigned from the Turnbull Government’s front bench after coming under intense pressure from Labor.
Candidate ‘confused’ about where money came from
Gold Coast councillor Kristyn Boulton, who worked for Mr Robert, told the CCC on Tuesday she did not realise money donated to her campaign had come from the Liberal National Party.
The $30,000 was given to her by Mr Robert from the LNP’s fundraising arm, the Fadden Forum.
“I think Stuart’s giving me the money. He says ‘no the Fadden Forum is giving you the money’ and the Fadden Forum says ‘the LNP is giving you the money’,” she said.
“So as I sit here today trying to help the commission as much as possible, I am even more confused and this has been a very difficult period for me.”
But Mr Robert told the inquiry the two candidates knew where the money was coming from.
“I grabbed both girls in my office and said ‘well if you are both going to run — and you’re running against some pretty seasoned Labor outfits or people aligned that way without prejudice against them — you might need some assistance and I’m going to seek advice on whether the Fadden Forum can do that’,” he said.
Earlier, counsel assisting the inquiry Glen Rice QC said some candidates had purported to be independent, but were in fact part of an unregistered group of political hopefuls that shared campaign resources and funding sources.
Under Queensland law, local government candidates who intend to align themselves with each other must publicly disclose their links when they nominate.
Queensland’s electoral commissioner Walter van der Merwe told the inquiry he received a significantly higher number of complaints after the 2016 elections.
He said local government elections were a lot more “complex and challenging” compared to a state election with 89 electoral districts.
Mr van der Merwe said there was a significant “trust factor” when it came to council candidates doing the right thing.
The hearings continue.