Stuart Robert’s Fadden Forum used to secretly bankroll council elections

September 2016

Stuart Robert has admitted his Fadden Forum – a fundraising arm of the Queensland Liberal National Party – was used to secretly bankroll two candidates to the tune of $60,000 to run in the March Gold Coast City Council election.

Kristyn Boulton and Felicity Stevenson were members of Stuart Robert’s staff but ran as independents in the council election. They did not disclose their Liberal links until after the poll. Ms Boulton was elected while Ms Stevenson was not and returned to Mr Robert’s employ.  Stuart Robert bankrolled their election campaigns to the tune of $60,000 through his fundraiser account Fadden Forum. The Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission in September 2016 launched an investigation into the Gold Coast election and other councils. It found “widespread non-compliance with legislative obligations relating to local government elections and political donations. This non-compliance is largely caused by a deficient legislative and regulatory framework.”

Simone Holzapfel, a high-profile lobbyist for Gold Coast developer Sunland and a former adviser to Tony Abbott, gave more than $100,000 to the Fadden Forum. It was also revealed that a speech that Stuart Robert gave to Parliament defending Sunland was substantially written by Simone Holzapfel. The Age reported that much of Robert’s adjournment debate speech on November 26, 2012 came from a four-page defence of Sunland she wrote after a newspaper article scrutinised the company’s dispute with an Australian man who spent five years trapped in a legal nightmare in Dubai.

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