Sunday, 14 February 2016

Liberal MP Stuart Robert's resignation as Australian Minister for Human Services raises more questions than it answers

The following is a rough timeline covering the the not-so-illustrious political career of Stuart Rowland Robert, Liberal MP for Fadden (QLD) since 2007.

On 10 September 2010 Stuart Robert changed his Statement of Registrable Interests to reflect that he and his wife were no longer trustees for the Robert Family Trust and Robert Investments Family Trust, as well as ceasing to be directors and shareholders in Robert International Pty Ltd.

It is understood that new trustees are close family members of Robert.

For most of his parliamentary career to date Stuart Robert has not ventured overseas that often.

His first official overseas trip did not occur until 5 August 2009 as part of a parliamentary delegation to Timor Leste. His second was also as part of a parliamentary delegation – this time to the United Arab Emirates between 13-20 May 2011.

Robert’s third and fourth overseas trips covered six days in June and five days in October 2011. First as a representative of Australia during commemorative events in France and then on a study tour of South Africa. The two and a quarter page study report cost taxpayers $16,161.58.

Between 13 Feb to 17 Feb 2012 Stuart Robert was again overseas representing Australia in Singapore on behalf of Senator Michael Ronaldson. From 17 Oct to 21 Oct 2012 Robert was in Egypt for the 70th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein, before travelling on to Uganda for seven days on another study tour. This second three-page study report cost $3,811.92.

In June 2013  then Shadow Minister for Defence, Science, Technology and Personnel  Stuart Robert hosted a small private dinner at Parliament House for a representative of a Chinese mining company, reportedly at the request of another guest, millionaire businessman Paul Marks

Besides Marks, guests at this dinner included Chinese billionaire Li Ruipeng, then Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources Ian Macfarlane and then Liberal National Party president Bruce McIver. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and then Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship & Shadow Minister for Productivity and Population Scott Morrison attended the dinner towards the end.

All the Australian politicians at this dinner reportedly received gifts of designer watches worth est. $250,000 in total.

Marks is frequently described as a close personal friend of Robert.

On 31 January 2014 mining exploration company Nimrod Resources Limited donated $500,000 to the federal Liberal Party of Australia.

In mid-August 2014 Stuart Robert accompanied Paul Marks to China allegedly to lobby the Chinese Government on his behalf in relation to the business interests of Nimrod Resources.

Robert did not bill the taxpayer for his flight to China. However, his return journey was via Singapore for the Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial meeting and the Defence Ministers' Dialogue on 21 to 23 August. Therefore taxpayers funded the last leg of his journey home.

Nimrod Resources currently has three directors, Paul Marks (Executive Chairman), James Macaulay (Managing Director) and Robert Kingdon (Non-executive Director). Bruce McIver reportedly holds a 22 per cent shareholding in this company.

In early April 2014 Stuart Robert as Assistant Minister for Defence led a 7-day trade mission to Israel organized by the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, of which Marks' brother Sam Miszkowski is understood to be a Queensland office bearer/member.

There were two other ministerial visits overseas in 2014 - one to Afghanistan and another to New Zealand & the United States.

On 30 June 2014 P. Marks Investment Pty Ltd  donated $431,631 to the federal Liberal Party.

Between April and June 2015 Paul Marks personally donated $340,000 to the federal Liberal Party.

To date the Marks family appear to have donated at least $1.47 million directly to the Liberal Party.

In late April to early May 2015 as Assistant Minister for Defence, Stuart Robert made ministerial visits to the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and the USA as part of a trade delegation.

By 2016 Chinese businessman Li Ruipeng is no longer a high-flying billionaire but is wanted by police in China for illegal fundraising and unpaid debts of est. $30 million and Robert may yet have to appear as a witness in a court case concerning the outcome of a Dubai land deal which went wrong.

On 12 February 2016 Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull released a press statement regarding Robert’s resignation as Minister for Human Services which said in part that: Mr Robert advised Dr Parkinson that at the time he travelled to Beijing in August 2014 he did not believe that he had any interest in or connection to Mr Paul Marks’ company, Nimrod Resources. In the course of assisting the investigation, Mr Robert advised Dr Parkinson that on checking his records he had become aware that shares in Metallum Holdings Pty Ltd, a company in which Mr Marks was also a shareholder, had been allocated to his trustee some time before the visit to Beijing. He told Dr Parkinson that this had been done without his knowledge. He further advised Dr Parkinson that he believed Metallum Holdings Pty Ltd had an interest in Nimrod Resources.

Metallum Holdings has an interesting history:

Formerly Resource House Holdings Pty Ltd
Registered: 10 September 2012
Address: Office F1 Level 1, 47-59 Ashmore Road, Bundall QLD 4217
Sole Director: Paul Marks
Company Secretary: Robert Arthur Kingdon of Kingdon Lawyers
Number of Ordinary Shares: 10,000
MIST CONSULTING PTY. LTD. – a Marks family company, trading as Friends of Israel (QLD), which donated $200,000 to the Liberal Party of Australia on 13 March 2014
Louise Edwards
Previous Shareholders:
INTERIMCO PTY LIMITED – company believed to be owned or part-owned by former Liberal National Party president Bruce McIver
Tom Kotsimbos.

All this leaves two questions hanging after Stuart Robert’s resignation – exactly how often did Robert assist Marks family business interests in the last nine years and, how many other Turnbull Government ministers have helped Paul Marks in a similar fashion?


Herald Sun, 10 April 2016:

DUMPED minister Stuart Robert took his official Defence-issued mobile phone on his controversial private trip to China, potentially exposing the device to a breach of national security.

Phone records obtained using Freedom of Information laws reveal the then-assistant defence minister had the device in Beijing while there to witness mate and Liberal donor Paul Marks sign a deal with the ­Chinese government.

The phone records show Mr Robert’s phone was switched on and connected to Chinese and Hong Kong networks eight times on August 15, 2014, and a further four times on August 16.

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