Stuart Robert

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Stuart Robert

Stuart Robert 2015.jpg
Minister for Government Services
Assumed office
29 May 2019
Prime MinisterScott Morrison
Preceded byMichael Keenan
Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Assumed office
29 May 2019
Prime MinisterScott Morrison
Preceded bySarah Henderson
Assistant Minister to the Treasurer
In office
26 August 2018 – 26 May 2019
Prime MinisterScott Morrison
Preceded byMichael Sukkar
Succeeded byMichael Sukkar
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
In office
21 September 2015 – 18 February 2016
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Preceded byMichael Ronaldson
Succeeded byDan Tehan
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
In office
21 September 2015 – 18 February 2016
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Preceded byMichael Ronaldson
Succeeded byDan Tehan
Assistant Minister for Defence
In office
18 September 2013 – 21 September 2015
Prime MinisterTony Abbott
Malcolm Turnbull
Preceded byWarren Snowdon
Succeeded byMal Brough
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Fadden
Assumed office
24 November 2007
Preceded byDavid Jull
Minister for Human Services
In office
21 September 2015 – 18 February 2016
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Preceded byMarise Payne
Succeeded byAlan Tudge
Personal details
Stuart Rowland Robert

(1970-12-11) 11 December 1970 (age 49)
Cranbourne, Victoria, Australia
Political partyLiberal National Party
Alma materRoyal Military College Duntroon;
Central Queensland University;
Queensland University of Technology;
University of New South Wales
OccupationBusiness recruitment officer
AwardsAustralian Service Medal;
Australian Defence Medal
Military service
Branch/serviceAustralian Army
Years of service1988–1999
Unit3RAR; 51FNQR

Stuart Rowland Robert (born 11 December 1970) is an Australian Liberal Party politician serving as Minister for Government Services and the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme since 2019,[2] and has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Fadden since 2007.

Robert served in the Abbott Ministry as the Assistant Minister for Defence from 18 September 2013[3][4] until 21 September 2015. Following a leadership spill in the preceding week, new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appointed Robert to the roles of Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister for Human Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC. Robert announced his resignation from the Ministry on 12 February 2016,[5] after controversy surrounding his international travel.

Background and early years[edit]

Robert was born in Victoria and spent his early years growing up on a sugar cane farm in Bundaberg, Queensland.[1] He was educated at Rockhampton Grammar School where, at the age of 17, he secured a scholarship to the Australian Defence Force Academy as an Army Officer Cadet. Following the Academy, Robert attended the Royal Military College Duntroon.[6]

He completed a Masters in Business Administration at Central Queensland University, a Masters in Information Technology at the Queensland University of Technology and graduated from the University of New South Wales with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours.

Early career[edit]

Military career[edit]

Robert's professional career began in the military where he served for twelve years in units including the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment and the 51st Battalion, The Far North Queensland Regiment. The latter, based on Thursday Island, was at the time the largest indigenous unit in the Defence Force.[7] It was also during this time that Robert completed his master's degrees, mostly part-time.

A vast majority of Robert's military career was spent working within military intelligence and security, and he worked his way to the rank of captain. That included a four-month tour of duty with the peace monitoring force in Bougainville following the civil war.[8][self-published source?]

Business career[edit]

After leaving the army in 1999, Robert founded the IT services firm GMT Recruitment, with colleague Andrew Chantler. GMT Recruitment subsequently grew to be a nationwide company and was named a Business Review Weekly "Fast 100" award winner in 2006. The list, which recognised the fastest-growing 100 companies in Australia, again featured GMT Recruitment in both 2007 and 2008.[9]

Support for African orphans[edit]

Robert is a founding director of Watoto Australia, which operates one of the world's largest orphan programs, and is a member for the Watoto International Board.[citation needed] Operating out of Uganda, which currently has more than two million orphaned children due to HIV-AIDS and war, the Watoto model is to rescue children and care for their physical, spiritual and emotional needs. This includes housing with a mother and new siblings. The houses are grouped into villages with electricity, running water, schools, medical clinics and auditoriums.[8][self-published source?]

Robert's rationale for his involvement was detailed in his maiden speech, "The premise [of the Watoto model] is that orphaned children growing up in a home with a loving mother, with an identity and with an opportunity to go to the best schools, universities and technical colleges, will shine more so than if simply placed in an institution. I believe that, as we rescue a child, we raise a leader and we will rebuild nations. Children are 100 per cent of the future of every nation. We have a responsibility to protect our children and provide them with the best of education and care to preserve our nation's future. We also have a responsibility as good international citizens to reach out with appropriate aid and development to build nations and enhance our international security and standing."[1]

Political career[edit]

In 1991, after observing the effects of recession, Robert joined the Liberal Party. As he later explained to parliament, "I was motivated to action as I witnessed the diabolical consequences of the recession which, apparently, 'we had to have', the crippling interest rates and the very high level of industrial disputes which so adversely impacted on my family and many surrounding families. Through all of this turbulence, the urgency to ensure that this place [was] governed for all Australia and not just for sectional interests became self-evident."[1] In 2007 Robert was elected to the House of Representatives representing the seat of Fadden. Two years later, on 8 December 2009, he was appointed Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Defence. On 14 September 2010 he was promoted to Shadow Minister for Defence Science, Technology and Personnel.[10]

After the 2013 federal election Robert was appointed the Assistant Minister for Defence in the Abbott Government. After the change of prime minister in September 2015, he was appointed to Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister for Human Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC with effect from 21 September 2015.

China trip and resignation from ministry[edit]

On 18 August 2014, Robert attended an event in Beijing, China, at which a mining deal between Australian company Nimrod Resources and Chinese state-controlled corporation China Minmetals was signed. In February 2016, when details of the trip were released, the Opposition called Robert's presence at the signing "inappropriate", because Nimrod chairman Paul Marks was a friend of his, as well as being a substantial donor to the Liberal Party. Robert claimed that the trip was in a "private capacity", and not official government business.[11]

In a subsequent Senate Estimates Committee hearing, officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) stated that the department had not been informed of the trip until Robert had returned, and that it appeared that Chinese officials at the event were under the impression that Robert was present as an Australian government minister.[5] Prime Minister Turnbull asked his department secretary, Martin Parkinson, to investigate and report on the circumstances of Robert's visit to China, to determine if he had breached ministerial standards of conduct.[11]

On 12 February 2016, Robert announced his resignation from the First Turnbull Ministry as part of a broader reshuffle triggered by the resignation of Andrew Robb and Warren Truss.[5]

Crime and Corruption Commission – Operation Belcarra[edit]

In March 2017, it was revealed that Robert would appear at a public hearing of the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission named Operation Belcarra #opBelcarra, inquiring into the possibly illegal conduct of candidates in some local government elections. It was alleged that some candidates had formed an undeclared group, and provided an electoral funding and financial disclosure return that was false or misleading.[12][13]

Policy stances[edit]

Robert is an advocate of reforming the indexation rules surrounding military superannuation in both the Defence Force Retirements Benefits scheme and the Defence Force Retirement & Death Benefits scheme. He has spoken in Parliament on a number of occasions to argue that these indexation rules should reflect the "unique nature of military service".[14] He has stated that such service deserves a superannuation scheme with fair indexation that is "indexed in the same way as the age pension and service pensions for those aged 55 and over".[15] Robert has also criticised Labor and the Australian Greens for their lack of policy in this area.[16]

In 2012 Labor sought to remove the entitlement from currently serving members of the Australian Defence Force who are single which allows them one free annual trip home. Robert argued against removing this entitlement.[17]

Robert believes the realities of war pose different kinds of physical challenges "On a route fitness assessment you may be forced to carry 25 kg"..."But can you carry that weight when you haven't slept for days? Can you carry that weight after parachuting in the rain and landing in the mud?"[18]

He has also rejected comparisons from critics who point to countries like Israel, which has women in frontline roles, stating that Israel has regional threats that cannot be translated to Australia. Robert further said that women in such positions pose a security risk as hostages, stating that male soldiers would react to female soldiers being tortured differently, potentially endangering troops or causing them to reveal state secrets. "The attitude with men [in capture] is just 'Suck it in and welcome to captivity,' but if they watching a woman suffer like that, it's a whole different ball game."[18]

Section 44 issues[edit]

In 2017, it was revealed that Stuart Robert had direct financial links with a company, the GMT Group, which was awarded millions of dollars worth of government contracts. This may have meant that he was in breach of the eligibility requirements of Section 44 of the Constitution of Australia at past elections, with his situation noted to have had similarities to Bob Day's earlier disqualification. However, as Robert had been re-elected to Parliament since breaking ties with the company, there was no possibility of his in-doubt past elections being challenged in the High Court.[19] Stuart Robert's parents were listed as the directors of his company for six years without their knowledge.[20] The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is investigating these claims.[21]

Internet usage controversy[edit]

In October 2018, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that he had asked the Special Minister of State, Alex Hawke, to investigate Mr Robert's internet bills. Mr Robert's internet usage is funded by taxpayers and concerns were raised about apparently excessive bills. [22][23][24]

Personal life[edit]

Robert has attributed his commitment to family, charity and political life to his strong Pentecostal Christian beliefs, and has modelled his morals and values around his faith.[1] Robert was married in 1996 to his wife Chantelle and has three sons.


  1. ^ a b c d e Robert, Stuart (13 February 2008). "Governor-General's Speech: Address-in-Reply". Hansard. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  2. ^ Anonymous (29 October 2019). "Minister for Government Services". Transparency Portal. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  3. ^ "Tony Abbott's cabinet and outer ministry". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  4. ^ "Abbott Ministry" (PDF). Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Commonwealth of Australia. 18 September 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 September 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Henderson, Anna (12 February 2016). "Stuart Robert to resign from Turnbull ministry following probe into China trip". ABC News. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Mr Stuart Robert MP: Profile". Q&A. ABC TV. 2014.
  7. ^ Nicholson, Brendan (3 March 2015). "ADF 'in need of new faces'". The Australian. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  8. ^ a b Robert, Stuart. "Stuart's biography". Stuart Robert. Retrieved 4 July 2013.[self-published source?]
  9. ^ Abeysekera, Indra (2010). Reputation building, website disclosure and the case of intellectual capital (1st ed.). Bingley, U.K.: Emerald. ISBN 0857245066.
  10. ^ "Mr Stuart Robert MP". Senators and Members. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  11. ^ a b Eltham, Ben (11 February 2016). "Stuart Robert's Own Words Speak Against Him". New Matilda. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  12. ^ Gartrell, Adam; Remeikis, Amy (23 March 2017). "Turnbull government MP Stuart Robert called before corruption inquiry". Syney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  13. ^ Transcripts – Operation Belcarra
  14. ^ Robert, Stuart. "Military Superannuation". Hansard. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  15. ^ Robert, Stuart. "Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment Bill 2012". Hansard. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  16. ^ "Oakeshott military super motion a Political stunt". 11 October 2012. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  17. ^ "Govt backflips on flights for ADF singles". The Australian. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  18. ^ a b Kamenev, Marina (1 October 2009). "How Soon Will Australia's Female Soldiers Be on the Frontlines?". Time. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  19. ^ Bourke, Latika (4 September 2017). "Government MP Stuart Robert may have been elected to Parliament in breach of the constitution". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  20. ^ Bourke, Latika (14 September 2017). "Stuart Robert's father says he was unaware he was director of MP's company for six years". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  21. ^ Hutchens, Gareth (14 September 2017). "Corporate regulator to look into Liberal National MP Stuart Robert's businesses". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^

External links[edit]

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
David Jull
Member for Fadden
Political offices
Preceded by
Warren Snowdon
as Minister for Defence Science and Personnel
Assistant Minister for Defence
Succeeded by
Darren Chester
Preceded by
Marise Payne
Minister for Human Services
Succeeded by
Alan Tudge
Preceded by
Michael Ronaldson
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Succeeded by
Dan Tehan