MEMBER FOR ISAACS
SENATOR MURRAY WATT
SHADOW MINISTER FOR NORTHERN AUSTRALIA
LABOR SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND
MORE QUESTIONS FOR STUART ROBERT
Stuart Robert is facing even more questions about potential conflicts in funding decisions made while he was the Minister for Government Services and the NDIS.
Media reports today have raised further questions about millions of dollars awarded to companies owned by Gold Coast businessman Mr John Margerison for the lease of a property, and for disability and other services, while Mr Robert was the responsible Minister.
Stuart Robert has previously described Mr Margerison as a “very good friend”. They were also co-directors of a company, which made investments with and for Mr Robert, until he was elevated to the Morrison ministry.
It’s now been revealed Services Australia paid $3.59 million to Mr Margerison’s Australian Property Reserve Pty Ltd for the continued lease of its Central Coast Smart Centre at Tuggerah, NSW, in July 2020 while Mr Robert was the responsible Minister.
Property records show Australian Property Reserve’s $8.88 million purchase of the Tuggerah facility settled on March 31, 2016, less than two months after Mr Robert was sacked by Malcolm Turnbull weeks for breaching ministerial rules during a trip to China.
Following the 2019 election Mr Robert’s close mate Scott Morrison reinstated “Brother Stuie” to the portfolio, since renamed Government Services.
A little more than a year later, his department renewed the lease.
Officials at Senate Estimates were unable to answer serious questions including whether:
- Mr Robert discussed these contracts, or funding programs under his control, with Mr Margerison;
- Mr Robert declared any conflicts of interest in relation to these contracts;
- Mr Robert has any financial interests in Mr Margerison’s companies; or
- Mr Margerison, or one of his many companies, is or was the trustee of Mr Robert’s blind trust.
On his return to the Morrison Ministry Mr Robert said he transferred his extensive investments to a blind trust and he claims to not know what is in it.
Yet Senate Estimates was advised that Mr Robert did know more about his investments than he has let on. What exactly does Mr Robert know about his supposedly “blind” investments?
Only five months ago Christian Porter resigned over secret donations to a blind trust established to fund his defamation action.
At the time, the Prime Minister said Mr Porter’s resignation was due to his “inability…to be able to practically provide further information because of the nature of those arrangements…that would allow Minister Porter to conclusively rule out a perceived conflict.”
How are Minister Robert’s circumstances any different to those that cost Christian Porter his job?
Given this and his strong personal and business relationship with Mr Margerison, Mr Robert must answer these serious questions about his business and ministerial dealings.
Mr Robert must come clean - who is his mystery trustee, what does he really know about his investments and what steps has he taken to manage any conflicts of interest?
SATURDAY, 26 FEBRUARY 2022