Stuart Robert in China security breach by taking phone on trip
April 11, 2016
Shah Sheikh (1294 articles)

Stuart Robert in China security breach by taking phone on trip

Former Liberal minister Stuart Robert jeopardised Australia’s national security by taking his government phone on a trip to China where he met with communist officials.

Mr Robert was dumped from Malcolm Turnbull’s ministry in February after an inquiry revealed he had a financial interest in Nimrod ­Resources, the company he spruiked for a friend and major Liberal Party donor while travelling with him on the “private” trip to China in August 2014.

Phone records released under Freedom of Information laws reveal the then-assistant defence minister had the device in Beijing while there to witness mate and Liberal donor Paul Marks sign a deal with the Chinese government, the Herald Sun reports.

The phone records show Mr Robert’s phone was switched on and connected to Chinese and Hong Kong networks eight times on August 15, 2014, and a further four times on August 16.

Mark Dreyfus, the opposition legal affairs spokesman, said the revelation was “extraordinary” given clear warnings to ministers that their phones may be targeted for hacking or tampering by Chinese agents.

“What’s extraordinary is, in breach of absolutely clear instructions that are given to all ministers that they are not to take their government phones into China, Stuart Robert, as assistant defence minister, has done just that. He’s breached the clearest possible instructions,” Mr Dreyfus told Sky News.

“It’s not to the point that he’s saying he didn’t use it very much. There is a reason why there is this very clear instruction that phones are not to be taken into China. A real security breach has occurred here and I think it warrants further investigation.”

Mr Robert is already the subject of an Australian Federal Police investigation into over claims he committed an “abuse of public office” by travelling to China to help a Liberal donor and friend Paul Marks sign a mining deal.

In a statement to The Herald Sun, Mr Robert declined to address what precautions, if any, he took to ensure any sensitive material on his Defence-issued device remained safe. He said phone records showed he did not make any calls, send texts, or send or receive data on the phone.

“It was never used,” the statement read, according to the report. “It was turned on for the first 24 hours (until clearly I turned it off) and 61c ($0.61) was expended on the operating system connecting for checks (as every phone does).

“No data was received by the phone.”

Source | TheAustralian