Stuart Robert Can’t Stop Failing Upwards

Stuart Robert Can’t Stop Failing Upwards

Scott Morrison is looking to refresh his cabinet in the wake of rape allegations that have left two of his ministers under a cloud. And it just so happens that perhaps Parliament’s best-known failson, Stuart Robert, is in line to take over the incredibly powerful Home Affairs portfolio.

The Australian Financial Review’s Phillip Coorey reported on Thursday that Morrison was going to reshuffle the ministry to drop Christian Porter and Linda Reynolds.

Peter Dutton is reportedly set to move to the Defence portfolio. This would leave the powerful Home Affairs portfolio vacant, a department that covers everything from immigration to cyber security. The department controls Australia’s police, spies, border force — essentially in charge of the government’s surveillance and law enforcement.

So who is in line to get this incredibly important role in a time when governments are increasingly using technology infringing on personnel freedoms? Stuart Robert.

You may not remember the man with the forgettable name, but this author has no doubt you’ll remember some of his hijinks — particularly when it comes to technology.

While Robert, currently the assistant minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Government Services, has a masters in information technology, which would suggest some technical aptitude, his resume and Wikipedia’s list of his controversies are essentially one and the same.

Remember in 2016 when Robert resigned from the Turnbull ministry over a trip to China where he appeared at the signing of a mining deal for a company that he owned shares in through a trust?

Remember in 2018 when Robert (then the assistant Treasurer) confused the basic financial concepts of ‘debt’ and ‘deficit’, moments after taking a selfie unaware that he was live on air?

Remember later that year when Robert billed the taxpayer for more than $2000 a month for internet connections to his Gold Coast home? He reportedly ran up the bill by using 300 gigabytes of data, over the 50 gigabytes allowance of his home wireless service plan. He went on to repay the $38,000 he spent.

Remember in 2020 when Robert falsely claimed that MyGov had been hacked because the website had a surge in unemployment applications and crashed?

Remember later that year Robert refused to apologise for the robodebt debacle that used a dodgy algorithm to incorrectly harass welfare recipients, after the government committed to repaying the unlawful debts but shortly before the government settled a class action out of court?

Remember that Robert oversaw the development COVIDSafe app that largely failed to help at all? The government refused to implement the superior Google/Apple technology, and was incredibly opaque about how well it was working.

Stuart Robert’s political career has been defined by his public failures, many of them technology related. And yet, the Member for Fadden can’t help but fail upwards into one of the most powerful positions in the country.