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Roll Up, Roll Up, Rolex Robert Rides Again!

Unlike Ian Macfarlane who feels that he’s just wasted on the backbench … Mm, perhaps I should rephrase that as it may be a little ambiguous. What he actually said that he didn’t want to be a “passenger” by just sitting around on the backbench. Which sort of makes one wonder about his opinion of all those fellow MPs who’ll never be anything more than backbenchers.

Anyway, unlike Ian Macfarlane and others, Bronwyn Bishop is apparently happy to be a passenger, as is the recent ex-minister Mr Stuart Robert. One could say that it’s surprising that Mrs. Bishop would be happy to stay a “passenger” when her preferred method of transport won’t be allowed, but I guess Bronwyn knows that she isn’t going anywhere, so she doesn’t need to worry about things like that.

Stuart Robert, on the other hand, must be happy being a passenger. Or else he must be hoping that, after a suitable period of penance, he may once again rise like a phoenix from the ashes. After all, just look at Arthur Sinodinos. He was promoted, even before ICAC anounced that he had no case to answer because well, nobody could remember anything that he’d done in his job at Australia Water Holdings, let alone anything he’d done wrong. Whatever, he was returned to the ministry in spite of the fact that, not only had he demonstrated an inability to retain information with his testimony at ICAC, he was still to be cleared.

So, maybe Mr Robert may be of the view that, once we’ve got that little matter of the election out of the way, he may be given a more important job when the next minister stuffs up. Perhaps, some of the trolls will jump on me and suggest that I should have written, “if another minister stuffs up”, but, let’s be real here, folks, this is still a ministry where Christopher Pyne is one of the top performers, and, well, Barnaby Joyce … Need I say more!

After all, as many on the Coalition suggested: it’s not like he did anything wrong. I mean all he did was go over to China on a private trip – a holiday, really – where he wasn’t acting as minister and as a private citizen he met with various government officials which is pretty much what anyone going on a holiday overseas does.

However, it’s the whole Rolex thing that strikes me as rather odd.

From time to time, students have given me the odd gift at the end of the year. Occasionally, it’s been chocolates. Sometimes a bottle of wine (never Grange!). But none of them have ever given me a watch. Not even a fake Rolex … And I’ve never thought of these as anything more than an expression of gratitude, because generally they’ve come from students that I’m unlikely to teach ever again.

However, if I were to receive a present at the start of a year – even something as trivial as a fake Rolex, worth a mere $300-$500 according to those who received them – I’d feel that it was an attempt to bribe me and I’d feel obliged to say that it was inappropriate.

Actually, when I think about it, even ignoring the bribery implications, I’d be concerned about accepting a fake Rolex watch from a student, because I’d be sending him or her a message that it was OK for these people to rip off Rolex by making imitations. How would I explain the difference if I caught the student plagiarising someone else’s work?

I guess, though when you’re in Opposition you don’t have to worry about things like someone bringing a load of fake watches. I mean the borders are to keep out people, not watches!

Mm, did Li Ruipeng pay import duty, I wonder. Possibly not, because from what I’ve read, there’s quite a few things that he hasn’t paid in China, like his creditors and his employees.

But no worries, that’s just a matter for him and the Chinese officials who’ve described him as “still on the run”. I’m more concerned that he just handed over Rolex watches worth more than a quarter of a million to people he expected to soon be Australian government ministers.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Their election prospects may have had nothing to do with it. Mr Li Ruipeng may just be a generous sort of man … After all, he gave watches to their spouses as well. Why he even gave one to Peta Credlin and she was just a simple worker in the Opposition leader’s office! I wonder if he also drops coins in beggars’ cups or sponsors orphans. He must be the sort of man who adopts stray kittens.

Whatever, I just hope he paid import duty on those watches because it’d almost be enough to eliminate the need to raise the GST …

Yes, I know, Malcolm has taken the GST off the table …

Although actually, he hasn’t said that they won’t introduce it. He just said, and I quote directly:

“the Government will not be taking a proposal to increase the GST to the election”

Later adding:

“After you take into account all of the compensation that you would need to ensure the change was equitable, it simply is not justified in economic terms.”

But nowhere did he say that they wouldn’t do actually raise it – just that they wouldn’t be taking it to an election. and that it wouldn’t be justified in economic terms after all the compensation to make it “equitable”. So, if he says, screw equity, we won and we’re implementing the promise we made, not the one you thought we made, it wouldn’t be without precedent.

So, getting back to what to what we’re meant to take from this little saga: It’s OK to accept a fake watch, so therefore it must be OK to accept a pirated copy of a DVD. Or illegally download music …

Or will someone argue that they only thought they were fake, and the fact that they were real means that they’ve done nothing wrong and should be congratulated for handing them back.


Yeah, it’s one of those confusing ones all right. Sort of like the Intervention, where we sent in the army because of the violence and sexual abuse in some aboriginal communities and we were told we couldn’t stand back and do nothing and strong action needed to be taken. However, now that there’s violence and sexual abuse on Manus and Nauru, not only are we meant to stand back, but it’s an offence to even report it. And doing something about it would just give hope to all those people smugglers to start the boats again and then we wouldn’t be able to turn them back like we’ve been doing because suddenly they’d have hope and with hope they’d be able to slip past the navy ships we have patrolling and sail straight into Sydney Harbour.

Like I said, it’s confusing.

Anyway, just in case, the AFP arrive on my door wanting to confiscate the chocolates and wine, I’d like to put on record that I personally have never received any presents and I was making up that example for the purposes of illustration!

If that doesn’t work, I’ll try the Arthur Sinodinos approach …


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  1. Evelyn Wheeler

    Best yet??

  2. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Wow, is even a fake Rolex worth $300-$500? I’m certainly in the wrong business because nobody ever gave me one of those!

  3. Lawrence S. Roberts

    Should these people be in public office? Either taking a Rolex as a bribe or encouraging the counterfeit trade? I think not.

  4. Kaye Lee

    The comparison between the Intervention and offshore detention is very interesting, in a terribly depressing way. As always, a brilliant article whose truth cannot be denied.

  5. susan

    I wonder if an LNP supporter could understand your reasoning?

  6. Glenn K

    Love your work!!! keep on keeping on. 🙂

  7. Evan

    Susan, the short answer is no.

  8. Caroline

    This depressingly made my day. Brilliant stuff.

  9. John Fraser


    If Dreyfus is on the ball the AFP should be asking S. Robert some Peter Slipper type questions in relation to expenses.

    2 days before S. Robert offered to pay back $1,600 Mark Dreyfus said he was (had ?) written to the AFP asking them to investigate S. Robert.

    As with Slipper the Minchin Protocol does not apply if the AFP have been notified of criminal behaviour.

    Ot maybe the AFP will do a "Helicopter" Bishop and flick it over to the Finance Dept where the Secretary of the Dept will tell Australians that the investigation will "not be made public".

    About time Gary Grey went, useless twat …… as a Minister he had the opportunity on a couple of occasions to nail Abbott for his rorting of his expense account ….. think pollie pedal and book signing just for starters.

  10. Garth

    Thanks Rossleigh. I don’t know where this nub Robert came from. I hadn’t heard of him up until a few weeks ago and since then he’s 1) been pinged for travelling to China in an unofficial-official capacity and lost his ministry, 2) been pinged for accepting a not real-real Rolex and, 3) been pinged for putting the taxpayer on the hook for his travels to a mine he owned shares in. Wow, this guy does get around doesn’t he but, as I said, I had not heard of him till a few weeks ago and I like to think I follow things fairly closely. If there was ever anyone deserving of a full audit of his behaviour in office and his expenses then this is the guy. Sheesh, who the bloody hell do they think they are ?!

  11. musicinhills

    I did not read your story Rossleigh, but when I heard a week ago about a person with a bag given out fake rolex watches I had a good laugh. So the security let in some one with a bag of fake rolex watches, the security just didn’t know who this Chinese man was they were not forewarned, so they let him in any way, so he just saunters up to some people,
    all having lunch and no one know’s who he is but when he pulls out the rolex watches, all have a good laugh and nudge nudge, lets amuse him and accept these fake watches. Thats the way i see it, you cant make this shit up. So now i will have a look at your take, I wonder if i am far off the mark, Thank you Rossleigh

  12. JohnB

    I have no doubt that raising the GST will come again – it is far too attractive to business as they don’t have to pay it, and far too attractive to neoliberals because low income consumers pay proportionately more.
    Morrison stuffed up this attempt with his inept clumsiness – but wilier heads will better frame the next attempt – just watch.

    As reported in The Guardian – from an interview on Macquarie Radio 8/2/16:
    Morrison: -“The only reason we were looking at issues and continue to investigate those is because it gives the only opportunity there is for very big income tax cuts.”
    Morrison said any revenue gained from increasing the GST would not have gone to the states in any circumstance:
    “The GST was never the answer to the budget issue,” he said.
    “The states wanted us to increase the GST to give them money so they can spend more. We were never going to do that. If you do that then you can’t deliver income tax cuts.”

    So why did any of the States support the proposed increase in the GST?
    Were those State Premiers unaware of Morrison’s plan to retain all the increased GST revenue?

    The current Commonwealth/State GST agreement sets out unequivocally that all income derived from the GST will be distributed among the States. No change from that arrangement is possible without unanimous agreement of all State leaders.

    How was Morrison intending to retain the additional 5% State bound GST revenue under the current GST agreement?
    Was he intending to reduce State grants by an amount equal to the additional 5% collected?

    While the query is now rather academic, no one bothered to ask Morrison those practical questions.

  13. Richard Kopf

    “I didn’t realise it was a real Rolex!” Yeah right. I have never seen the gift wrapping around a $250,000 Rolex but I can imagine it is more impressive than the plastic box my $20 Woolies watch came in. And the card. It must have given a clue, like words such as ” don’t throw this watch away, get it valued first”. Or, “this is a token of my esteem” and some following words to convey the value of the esteem.
    Are these Pollies stupid, or are we?

  14. lawrencewinder

    A delightful satire….. particularly the Arfur “Da Spiv” Sinodinas bit.

  15. keerti

    why is the AFP not investigating this? Iknow that receiving stolen property is a crime. Is accepting smuggled property also a crime? I would imagine so. By the way thanks for the rational that says I can watch movies on the internet!

  16. Pingback: Rolex Robert - LNP Government History

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