Monday, 3 October 2016

Stuart Robert MP - the archetypal Liberal Party politician

Stuart Rowland Robert, Liberal MP for Fadden (QLD) since 2007, is truly the archetypal Liberal Party politician - in parliament for his own personal financial advancement, less than transparent about his investments and business connections or gifts he receives, as well as being quite comfortable with those dodgy political donations schemes operating at state and federal level.

Now it seems that the LNP Fadden Forumwhich reportedly has a $12,000 annual membership fee, is in the news again.

The Australian, 30 September 2016:
A well-connected lobbyist gave more than $110,000 of her “own money’’ to the fundraising entity of federal Liberal MP Stuart Robert as her company was being wound up with unpaid debts.

Simone Holzapfel, a former longtime adviser to Tony ­Abbott, owed more than $430,000, including $355,000 to the Australian Taxation Office, when she donated $114,000 in 12 separate payments to Mr ­Robert’s “Fadden Forum’’ in mid-2013, ahead of the federal election.

Ms Holzapfel was then a lobby­ist for Gold Coast developer Sunland Group, now at the centre of the latest controversy to embroil Mr Robert, the Gold Coast MP sacked last year from the Turnbull ministry.

Months before the donations were made, Mr Robert had ­defended Sunland in parliament over its involvement in the ­detention of two Australians in Dubai, with a speech largely lifted from briefing notes supplied by Ms Holzapfel.

The notes had been sent to both Mr Robert and Mr Abbott’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin, on the morning of the November 26, 2012, speech to parliament.

It can also be revealed that Ms Holzapfel sent the notes to Mr Robert and Ms Credlin while working as Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate’s media officer.

She left the council in February 2013 to pursue “commercial ventures’’ and reboot lobbying and PR company Shac, which had been set up in 2005.

The $114,000 donation in 2013 and Mr Robert’s bankrolling of “independent’’ candidates ahead of the Gold Coast council elections in March this year — as revealed by The Australian — are now part of an investigation by Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission.

Ms Holzapfel has previously told The Australian the donations were her “own money’’ and rejected suggestions she had given the money to Mr Robert’s Fadden Forum on behalf of clients.

“I ­donated because I wanted my ­former boss (Mr Abbott) to ­become prime minister, and that is my right to do,’’ she said then.

It has now been confirmed that at the time of making the donations — between July and September 2013 — Ms Holzapfel’s company was in external administration, with $437,000 in debt.

Ms Holzapfel was the sole directo­r of the company, Coolabird, which had changed its name from Shac months earlier and was eventually wound up.

Administrators confirmed yesterday that the company had debts of $437,000 when it was put into ­liquidation, including a debt of $355,000 to the ATO……

The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 September 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.

Fairfax Media can reveal that former Tony Abbott staffer-turned-developer-lobbyist Simone Holzapfel was the true author of whole sections of the speech that Mr Robert delivered in November 2012.

Ms Holzapfel wrote a four-page defence of Sunland after a November 17 newspaper article scrutinised the company's dispute with an Australian man who spent five years trapped in a legal nightmare in Dubai.

Seven sections of that response - provided to various government officials and obtained by Fairfax Media - subsequently found their way into Mr Robert's adjournment debate speech on November 26.

Ms Holzapfel's words make up more than half of the speech.

Mr Robert has refused to comment on the revelation, which once again puts the spotlight on his connections with Sunland. Mr Robert's links to the company have come under scrutiny as part of a Queensland corruption inquiry into political donations to Gold Coast City Council candidates, which involves his fundraising body, the Fadden Forum......


The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 October 2016:

Turnbull government MP Stuart Robert has close ties to an African church that supports harsh anti-gay laws and is run by a preacher described as "one of the most homophobic people in the world".

Mr Robert was a founding director of Watoto Australia, an offshoot of the Ugandan-based pentecostal Watoto Church, and has called church leader Gary Skinner one of the "great influences" on his life…..

Gay and lesbian activists say Watoto and Mr Skinner are virulently anti-gay and have contributed to violent homophobia in Uganda. Mr Robert – who was also a member of Watoto's International Board – has travelled to the Ugandan capital Kampala many times to meet Mr Skinner, who says homosexuality is "degrading" and an "inhuman sin" that brings disease and destroys families.

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