Turnbull government MP Stuart Robert called before corruption inquiry

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Stuart Robert during question time in Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday 9 February 2016. Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew MearesTurnbull government MP Stuart Robert will be hauled before a corruption inquiry into claims of dodgy political donations in Queensland.


The former minister has been called to appear as a witness at a Crime and Corruption Commission public hearing next month as part of Operation Belcarra – an investigation into the conduct of candidates involved in a series of local elections.

Mr Robert has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

The Queensland MP – who was sacked from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s frontbench last year over his dealings with prominent Liberal Party donor and mining magnate Paul Marks – will appear on the first day of hearings, on April 18.

It is unclear whether Mr Robert’s evidence will relate to his own alleged activity or those of others.

In a statement, the MP said: “Mr Robert looks forward to assisting the CCC with their investigation into last year’s Gold Coast City Council elections, particularly given recent revelations of over $37,000 in undeclared CFMEU expenditure provided to a Labor-aligned candidate.

“In contrast, the LNP has properly disclosed all donations.”

Also called to appear is former Tony Abbott adviser Simone Holzapfel, who donated more than $100,000 to Mr Robert’s Fadden Forum fundraising body.

Kristyn Lee Boulton, a former employee of Mr Robert who was allegedly bankrolled with $30,000 from the Fadden Forum to run as an independent candidate at the March 2016 Gold Coast City Council, has also been called.

Other witnesses being called include Moreton mayor Allan Sutherland, Moreton councillor Michael Charlton, Ipswich councillor Paul Tully and Ipswich candidate Kerry Vernessa Silver.

???The CCC said it received a number of allegations of possible breaches of the Local Government Electoral Act following the elections of the councils of the Gold Coast City Council, Moreton Bay Regional Council and Ipswich City Council.

“These allegations also identified practices that give rise to potential corruption risks, or may otherwise undermine transparency, integrity and public confidence not only in the 2016 elections but in local government more generally,” it said on its website.

It is investigating whether candidates advertised or fund raised for the election as an undeclared group of candidates, provided an electoral funding and financial disclosure return that was false or misleading, or have not operated a dedicated bank account during the candidates’ disclosure period to receive and pay funds related to the campaign.

Ms Holzapfel insists the money came from her own pocket, rejecting allegations she channelled money that really came from her developer clients. She has previously told the Gold Coast Bulletin she is a regular LNP donor.

“My question is: What’s wrong with that? I’m entitled under the law to donate to the Liberal Party and any party of my choosing,” she told the paper. “This demonising of people who donate to the Liberal Party is unfair.”

???In 2006, the Queensland CCC – then known as the Crime and Misconduct Commission – found “secrecy, deceit and misinformation” had corrupted the 2004 Gold Coast City Council election.

It found that candidates who presented as totally independent were actually secretly funded by sitting party-aligned councillors who were pro-development.

Those findings ultimately led to new disclosure rules, which require candidates to declare if they are affiliated or part of a grouping or bloc before the election.