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Stuart Robert

Stuart Robert 2015.jpg
Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business
Assumed office
30 March 2021
Prime MinisterScott Morrison
Preceded byMichaelia Cash
Minister for Government Services
In office
29 May 2019 – 30 March 2021
Prime MinisterScott Morrison
Preceded byMichael Keenan
Succeeded byLinda Reynolds
Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
In office
29 May 2019 – 30 March 2021
Prime MinisterScott Morrison
Preceded bySarah Henderson
Succeeded byLinda Reynolds
Assistant Minister to the Treasurer
In office
26 August 2018 – 26 May 2019
Prime MinisterScott Morrison
Preceded byMichael Sukkar
Succeeded byMichael Sukkar
Minister for Human Services
In office
21 September 2015 – 18 February 2016
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Preceded byMarise Payne
Succeeded byAlan Tudge
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
Assumed office
24 November 2007
Preceded byDavid Jull
Personal details
Stuart Rowland Robert

(1970-12-11) 11 December 1970 (age 50)
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 appointed as Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in his Ministerial reshuffle in March 2021. This promotion followed Robert's appointment as Minister for Government Services and the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme in 2019.[1] He has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Fadden, on the Northern Gold Coast since 2007.

Robert served in the Abbott Ministry as the Assistant Minister for Defence from 18 September 2013[2][3] 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. Following an investigation into a possible conflict of interest, Robert announced his resignation from the Ministry on 12 February 2016.[4]

In August 2018, Peter Dutton unsuccessfully challenged Malcolm Turnbull for the leadership of the Liberal Party. Leadership tension continued to build, and the party voted to hold a second ballot on 24 August, with Turnbull choosing not to stand. During this time Robert is widely reported to have worked to support for the candidacy of Scott Morrison for the leadership of the Liberal party. Robert was later appointed as Assistant Treasurer in the first Morrison Ministry.

Robert is regarded as one of Prime Minister Morrison's closest confidants.[5] He also sits on a number of Cabinet committees.[6]

Background and early years

Robert was born in Victoria and spent his early years growing up on a sugar cane farm in Bundaberg, Queensland.[7] 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.[8]

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.[citation needed]

Early career

Military career

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.[9] 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.[citation needed]

Business career

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.[10]

Political career

In 1991, 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."[7] 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.[11]

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.

Following his support for Scott Morrison’s successful bid for the Prime Ministership in August 2018 Robert was appointed as Assistant Treasurer in the first Morrison Ministry.

Following the Coalition’s re-election in May 2019 Robert was promoted to Cabinet and appointed as Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Minister for Government Services - two areas identified as key priorities by Prime Minister Morrison for his Government.[12]

In March 2021 Robert was promoted to the role of Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business. [13] He also retained responsibility for whole-of-government technology through the Digital Transformation Agency.[14]

When asked why Minister Robert had been promoted the Prime Minister cited Robert's successful tenure in his previous role.[15]

National Disability Insurance Scheme

In his role as Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Mr Robert progressed its implementation.[16]

In June 2019, in response to delays and backlogs for children with disability in accessing Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) supports through the NDIS Mr Robert directed the National Disability Insurance Agency to provide standardised interim plans to children who have been found eligible for the NDIS, but who are likely to experience a wait time of greater than 50 days.[17]

In the 2020 Federal Budget Treasurer Josh Frydenberg noted over 400,000 Australians were being supported through the NDIS.[18]

News coverage in January 2021 noted NDIS “waiting times have dropped after concerted efforts from the Federal Government and the National Disability Insurance Agency”. The report found 85 per cent of NDIS participants rating their planning experience as “very good” or “good”. With a spokesman for NDIS Minister Stuart Robert said the Federal Government had made improving access and planning decision timeframes a priority, and had made “significant improvements since May 2019”.[19]

In February 2021 Minister Robert said he would press ahead with introducing legislative amendments to parliament after a court ruled sex services were not excluded under law from being taxpayer funded through the NDIS saying:

“NDIS participants can still freely use their own money, whether that is through government support or earned income, to spend on whatever they want. All we are saying is taxpayer NDIS funds were never intended to be used in this way and we’ll be ensuring this does not happen again.”[20]

Government Services

Establishing Services Australia

At the outset of his role as Minister for Government Services Mr Robert established Services Australia. In July 2019 he appointed Mr Martin Hoffman to lead a taskforce to develop a strategic plan to deliver the reform to government service delivery.

While announcing the taskforce Mr Robert said: 

“In those important moments when Australians reach out for government services they rightly expect a simple and seamless interaction. Services Australia will be outcomes focused and will put in place the right structure needed to deliver that experience. ‘Whether Australians are accessing government services digitally, in person or over the phone, in the future I want Services Australia to deliver a similar experience to what Australians are used to when dealing with everyday services, such as banking and shopping"

Minister Robert appointed Rebecca Skinner as CEO of Services Australia in March 2020.[21]

Support for Black Summer Bushfires

Services Australia staff deployed as part of the emergency response to the 2019-20 Black Summer Bushfires. Minister Robert told Parliament that Services Australia had provided support deploying more than 20 mobile support teams into dozens of hard-to-reach communities, and delivered millions of dollars via thousands of disaster payments to fire-affected residents. He noted Services Australia also successfully trialed facial verification technology to provide support to those who had lost identity documents.[22][better source needed]

Government Services Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

As Minister for Government Services Minister Robert lead Services Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March 2020 National Cabinet closed large sections of the Australian economy driving a high demand for social supports and saw thousands of people queue outside Centrelinks to apply for government payments. Minister Robert said in response Services Australia made impressive strides in process simplification and digital processing to adapt to the demand.

Minister Robert said:

“This included enabling people to establish their identity online, providing customer reference numbers via myGov and introducing a simplified online claim form, which people can complete in about 20 minutes, as opposed to the previous average of about 55 minutes,” “Australians can now obtain a CRN and apply for JobSeeker all online through myGov, something successive governments have been trying to deliver for years. Services Australia has delivered this in just four weeks.”

Following a surge of 12,000 staff drawn from across the Australian Public Service and service partners Services Australia processed as many JobSeeker claims within roughly 50 days as it normally would in two years. Thanks to help from staff from across the Australian Public Service, the agency has granted financial assistance to over 800,000 Australians who have lost their jobs.[23]

On Sunday 7 February 2021 Minister Robert announced Services Australia would ensure Australians would be able to tap and display COVID-19 “proof of vaccination” certificates on their phones or carry hard copies with them.[24]

Minister Robert said:

“In preparation for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Services Australia has made critical enhancements to the Australian Immunisation Register, including increasing system capacity so more customers can access their information on the register at the same time, new AIR functionality to capture more detailed information about vaccines given, and updating immunisation history statements to show all COVID-19 vaccine doses,” he said. ”We will continue to improve our systems throughout the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to support a faster return to normal life for Australians. This includes making it faster and easier to securely access proof of COVID-19 vaccination, which could include improvements in how Australians store or access their immunisation history statement."[25]

Future of Government Services

In December 2020 Minister Robert announced a refurbished Services Australia Service Centre in Western Australia would be used to trial a “new era” of government service delivery. The Perth City Service Centre would offer a new “welcoming environment” that has been designed specifically to help older Australians who need additional support. Minister Robert said said the new centre would offer upgraded self-service facilities and digital support, appointment-based services, and specialist services made available through video chat.[26]

In February 2021 Minister Robert visited Services Australia’s Virtual Service Centre pilot saying:

"The pilot is seeing excellent results and it is an innovative approach to service delivery I would like to see expanded to ensure Australians can access the services they rely on, on their terms," he said…Services Australia staff are doing an extraordinary job through a difficult period and the Virtual Service Centre pilot is an example of how staff are meeting Australians where they are to get the help they need in a COVID world."[27]

Previous Policy stances

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".[28] 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".[29] Robert has also criticised Labor and the Australian Greens for their lack of policy in this area.[30]

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.[31]

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?"[32]

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."[32]


China trip and resignation from ministry

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.[33]

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.[4] 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.[33]

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.[4]


Robert was criticised for his involvement in establishing the controversial Robodebt scheme during his time as minister for government services. The scheme saw hundreds of thousands of people issued with computer-generated debt notices, some of which made demands for payment from people who did not owe the Government any money, and led to a mammoth $1.23 billion refund and compensation settlement in November, 2020. [34]

Robert defended Robodebt until it was found unlawful by Australian courts in 2020, which ordered the government to return $721 million in returned welfare payments. [35]

Crime and Corruption Commission – Operation Belcarra

In March 2017, it was revealed that Robert would appear at a public hearing of the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission named Operation Belcarra, 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.[36][37] The Crime and Corruption Commission found it would "not be in the public interest" to take any further action.[38]

Possible breaches of Constitution and company law

In 2017, it was revealed that GMT Group, a company that Robert had founded, had been awarded government contracts worth millions of dollars. This may have meant that, at past elections, he had been ineligible for election to Parliament under Section 44 of the Constitution of Australia; Robert's situation had similarities to that of Bob Day, who had been disqualified under s. 44. However, because Robert had been re-elected to Parliament after relinquishing his interests in the company, there was no possibility of the previous elections being challenged in the High Court.[39]

It has also been reported that Robert's parents were listed as the directors of his company for six years without their knowledge.[40] Australian Securities and Investments Commission investigated the claims.[41]

Internet usage

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 excessive bills. [42][43][44] Although the plan had been approved by the Department of Finance, the Department said that they had warned Robert 'multiple times' about the unusually high costs of his home internet. [45] Robert voluntarily repaid $37,975 of claimed allowance. [46]

Incorrect claims of cyberattack on the MyGov system

In March 2020, during the Australian coronavirus pandemic, the government's digital welfare platform, MyGov, suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack as thousands of people were logging on to register for welfare services. Robert claimed in a press conference that it was not due to the large number of people who are unemployed and trying to log into MyGov to register for Centrelink, but was due to a DDoS attack – where a service is targeted and attempted to be overwhelmed in traffic until it becomes inaccessible to regular users. “MyGov has not been offline, it’s simply suffered from a distributed denial of service attack this morning,” he said. [47] Later he was forced to retract the claim, with commentators incredulous that the Minister had said 'my bad' during the retraction. [48]

Business connection with Cryo Australia

In October 2018, a newspaper revealed Robert had joined a business selling cryotherapy devices. The business founder, also a director of the company, was a convicted rapist who at the time was before Queensland’s highest court on appeal against the conviction. Robert said he did not realise the background of the company’s founder and director until contacted by the media. Robert resigned his directors position after two and a half weeks. [49] Cryo Australia was liquidated shortly thereafter and Robert reportedly 'lost a huge sum of money'.[50]

Personal life

Robert was married in 1996 to his wife Chantelle and has three sons.


  1. ^ Commonwealth of Australia - Dept of Finance (29 October 2019). "Minister for Government Services". Transparency Portal. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  2. ^ "Tony Abbott's cabinet and outer ministry". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ " | Subscribe to The Courier Mail for exclusive stories". Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  6. ^ "Reshuffle in a reshuffle". Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  7. ^ a b Robert, Stuart (13 February 2008). "Governor-General's Speech: Address-in-Reply". Hansard. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  8. ^ "Mr Stuart Robert MP: Profile". Q&A. ABC TV. 2014.
  9. ^ Nicholson, Brendan (3 March 2015). "ADF 'in need of new faces'". The Australian. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  10. ^ Abeysekera, Indra (2010). Reputation building, website disclosure and the case of intellectual capital (1st ed.). Bingley, U.K.: Emerald. ISBN 978-0857245069.
  11. ^ "Mr Stuart Robert MP". Senators and Members. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  12. ^ "Press Conference, Canberra | Prime Minister of Australia". Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  13. ^ McDonald, Matt (29 March 2021). "Gold Coast MP Karen Andrews appointed Home Affairs Minister". Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  14. ^ "DTA remains under Stuart Robert's watch despite move into PM&C". The Mandarin. 19 April 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  15. ^ "Press Conference - Australian Parliament House, ACT | Prime Minister of Australia". Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  16. ^ "NDIS issues ironed out by mid-2020: govt". The West Australian. 15 September 2019. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  17. ^ StClair, Monique (25 June 2019). "New plan to cut waiting times for children to access NDIS". Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  18. ^ Frydenberg, Josh (6 October 2020). "'This budget is all about jobs': The Treasurer's full speech". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  19. ^ " | Subscribe to The Advertiser for exclusive stories". Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  20. ^ "Subscribe to The Australian | Newspaper home delivery, website, iPad, iPhone & Android apps". Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  21. ^ "Movers & shakers: The year in review". The Mandarin. 17 December 2020. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  22. ^ "Stuart Robert reflects on one year of Services Australia". The Mandarin. 27 May 2020. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  23. ^ "Stuart Robert reflects on one year of Services Australia". The Mandarin. 27 May 2020. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  24. ^ Massola, James (6 February 2021). "Morrison government readies rollout of vaccine certificates". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  25. ^ Massola, James (6 February 2021). "Morrison government readies rollout of vaccine certificates". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  26. ^ "myGov Perth selected to trial new Services Australia offering". The Mandarin. 2 December 2020. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  27. ^ Whyte, Sally (8 February 2021). "Centrelink trial for video appointments could be expanded". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  28. ^ Robert, Stuart. "Military Superannuation". Hansard. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  29. ^ Robert, Stuart. "Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment Bill 2012". Hansard. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  30. ^ "Oakeshott military super motion a Political stunt". 11 October 2012. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  31. ^ "Govt backflips on flights for ADF singles". The Australian. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  32. ^ a b Kamenev, Marina (1 October 2009). "How Soon Will Australia's Female Soldiers Be on the Frontlines?". Time. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  33. ^ a b Eltham, Ben (11 February 2016). "Stuart Robert's Own Words Speak Against Him". New Matilda. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ Gartrell, Adam; Remeikis, Amy (23 March 2017). "Turnbull government MP Stuart Robert called before corruption inquiry". Syney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  37. ^ Transcripts – Operation Belcarra
  38. ^ "Queensland Liberal MP cleared of wrongdoing during election". The Sydney Morning Herald. 4 October 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  39. ^ 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.
  40. ^ 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.
  41. ^ Hutchens, Gareth (14 September 2017). "Corporate regulator to look into Liberal National MP Stuart Robert's businesses". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^ "Stuart Robert pays back $38,000 to cover internet bills". 12 October 2018. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^ Knaus, Christopher; Smee, Ben (26 October 2018). "Liberal MP Stuart Robert joined company whose founder-director had rape conviction". The Guardian (Australian Edition). Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  50. ^ Butler, Ben (3 September 2019). "Minister Stuart Robert set to lose huge sum from investment in company led by rapist". The Guardian (Australian edition). Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 24 May 2021.

External links

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
This page was last edited on 25 May 2021, at 03:39
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