We might know him as the minister with the $38,000 internet bill, but further accusations of Stuart Robert’s misuse of taxpayer funds are being raised.
It’s definitely noteworthy that it was our Assistant Treasurer, Stuart Robert, who was found out to be rorting the Australian taxpayer for tens of thousands of dollars. It wasn’t, say, the Finance Minister, or the Environmental Minister, but the Assistant Treasurer.
Our Assistant Treasurer who was relegated to the back bench by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after “breaking the Ministerial code of conduct”; Robert, who also just so happens to be good buddies with our former treasurer and current PM, Scott Morrison, who is the one who reinstated Robert to the front bench. They once again share the front bench and their Pentecostal faith. Just like they share a seeming disdain for the Australian people.
I think writing off $37,975 for “residential Internet expenses” is what they mean when they speak about “creative accounting”, isn’t it? Not so clever if he got caught though, I suppose.
But wait, there’s more! According to Twitter, he figured out how to truly rort the system, deducting $107,848.99 worth of printing costs from October to December 2017, which is, as David Ewart points out is “over $8k a week”. This was the most of any MP, according to journalist Asher Moses. It’s also definitely of note that a lot of the more conservative MPs are spending into the hundreds of thousands for printed material, whereas many of the more liberal MPs are spending under $40,000.
He also spent triple the amount of any other MP on personalised stationery, a whopping $17,000 of taxpayer money. This is despite some reports, according to Independent Australia journalist Belinda Jones, that his constituents in Fadden have received “little to no” printed material or mail from Robert during his decade in office.
Robert did pay back the $37,975. In case you were wondering, the yearly salary of someone on minimum wage in Australia – if they worked a 40 hour week for the entire 52 weeks of the year – is $36,134.80.
The theories surrounding the extremity of his expenses are not yet through, however. According to Twitter, Robert claims to be paying $59,591 per month in rent for his small office in Biggera Waters, Queensland. I was unable to find another source that stated this number, unfortunately. Robert’s website also claims to have a PO Box, but it’s hard to imagine this expense plus the office would come anywhere near the $59k figure.
Then things took a turn for the bizarre. According to the METRO Church Australia website, a church that was founded in 2006 on the Gold Coast by husband and wife team Garry and Casey Mac, “Stu” Robert and his wife Chantelle will join the METRO Church founders as hosts of the church’s trip to Israel. You know, for those who can afford the $5,600 total cost per person. As writer Victoria Rollinson rightly asks: is Stuart Robert taking leave “to run Pentecostal bible tours to Jerusalem?”
And the answer is: probably, yeah. While we oscillate between speculation and confirmation, you could excuse the odd suspicion of wrongdoing. But not five.
Now, Robert did, in fact, pay back the $37,975 he cheated out of the taxpayers. He did so in one hit, tweeting about it on the 12th of October. Now, this raises the question, why would someone who had that kind of money just lying around need to rort the system the first place? Or is that how he got so wealthy? In case you were wondering, by the way, the yearly salary of someone on minimum wage in Australia – if they worked a 40 hour week for the entire 52 weeks of the year – is $36,134.80.
All we should ask from Stuart Robert is but for him to confirm, or deny these claims. If you’re overpaid and unfit – prove it.
It’s our money.