In October 2018 it was reported that Stuart Robert, then the assistant treasurer, was to repay nearly $38,000 in taxpayer-funded home internet bills. The repayment came after it was revealed that Mr. Robert had been charging taxpayers up to $2800 a month for data at his Gold Coast home since 2016.
Expense records showed Mr. Robert had charged taxpayers more than $11,000 for his home’s internet data over just a six-month period, an average of nearly $2000 per month.
Mr Robert had previously stated that connectivity problems were the cause of the high costs:
“My family home is located a significant distance from the telephone exchange resulting in poor broadband internet connectivity…At the time a 4G home Wi-Fi internet connection was the only way to receive reliable and stable internet access…My internet, like many in semi-rural areas, was previously unreliable which interfered with my ability to perform my parliamentary and Ministerial duties."
Mr. Robert has also said to Fairfax Media that a high bill in May was the result of using 300 gigabytes of data, going beyond his limit of 250 gigabytes by 50 gigabytes. At the time of these announcements, The Guardian reported that Optus was offering unlimited 4G broadband for $90 per month, with Exetel offering 250 gigabytes per month for $70.
In May 2020 Mr. Robert’s internet usage bills were revealed under freedom of information requests. The bills showed that with his monthly plan providing him with only 80 gigabytes of data per month, and additional gigabytes being charged at $10 each, Mr. Robert would have been alerted with hundreds of notifications informing him that he was going over his data allowance, unless he had opted out of this service.
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