Member for Isaacs

Parliament House Doorstop 9 February 2016

09 February 2016

SUBJECTS: Stuart Robert





SUBJECTS: Stuart Robert


MARK DREYFUS, SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Morning, I am here to talk about Stuart Robert, as the Shadow Treasurer has just said.


Stuart Robert must immediately make a statement to the Australian people on what he did when he went to China in 2014, at a time when he was Assistant Defence Minister in the Government of Australia. It seems absolutely clear that he has breached the ministerial standards, not once, but twice. The part of the ministerial standards which talks about not using public office for private gain in any way, and the part of the ministerial standards which makes it an absolute prohibition on a minister engaging in any activity, be it as a consultant, be it as paid employment or be it on a supposed voluntary basis to assist a private corporation. That's what Stuart Robert has done.


It was quite clear that is what he had done, and running for cover behind a departmental inquiry is simply not good enough. But today he has further questions to answer. What has been revealed today in the Australian Financial Review is that on this same visit to China, when Mr Robert went to give his ministerial blessing, because no one should think he was there in a private capacity, whatever he is now trying to say, he was only invited to this event because he was a minister in the Australian Government. And on this same visit, he has met with the Vice Minister in the Chinese Government, Wang Min, who is the Vice Minister for Land and Resources. That's what the report in the Financial Review says. The source is a Chinese language, Chinese Government website. So lets see, again, what Mr Robert has got to say about that.


Yesterday he was trying to say that the Chinese mining company's website had in some way misrepresented the capacity in which he had joined the signing event between the company of his friend, Paul Marks, the person that's given $2 million to the Liberal Party, a signing ceremony between that company, the Australian company and the Chinese mining company. Id ask anybody who saw the photos in the media yesterday to ask themselves, what does it look like when a junior Minister in the Australian Government, stands behind the Australian flag at a signing ceremony, presents a certificate to a high official in the Chinese Communist Party, who is connected to the Chinese mining company, and lines up in a row of dignitaries at this signing ceremony. It's not a surprise that the Chinese mining company's website portrayed this event as having the blessing of the Australian Government.


That blessing was conferred on it by the Assistant Minister for Defence, Stuart Robert and I say again, he's got to now make a full statement about as to what it was he was doing in Beijing. It cant be both a trip for private purposes and a trip on which he met with a Vice Minister in the Chinese Government. What did his visa application say? What assistance did he get from the Australian embassy in Beijing? Who paid for his trip? Who paid for his accommodation? Who paid for his expenses? All of these questions need to be answered. It's time for Mr Robert to answer those questions and it's time for Mr Turnbull to show some leadership, a quality that has been conspicuously lacking in his Prime Ministership up to this point. On this issue he's shown no leadership, he's simply tried to duck shove it to pass it to his departmental secretary. It's not good enough. Stuart Robert needs to make a full statement and Mr Turnbull needs to show some leadership.


JOURNALIST: Should Stuart Robert stand aside while this process is ongoing?


DREYFUS: Mr Turnbull should now grab hold of this matter, apply his leadership to judging what appears to be the clearest possible breach of the ministerial standards. Mr Robert has betrayed the duty that he owes as a minister in the Australian Government, to all of the Australian people, not to misuse his high office for private profit of a friend and a donor to the Liberal Party, and a substantial donor at that. If Mr Turnbull cant see that, there is something wrong with the way he is leading the country. It is absolutely time for him to grab hold of it, not just simply flick it off to his departmental secretary, he's got to take charge of this matter, Stuart Robert has got to make a statement about it and Mr Turnbull has to show some leadership.