Andrew Robb

Andrew John Robb AO (born 20 August 1951) is a former Australian politician. He was a member of the House of Representatives from 2004 to 2016, representing the Liberal Party. He served as Minister for Trade and Investment (2013–2016) in the Abbott and Turnbull Governments, and also briefly as Minister for Vocational and Further Education in the Howard Government in 2007. Before entering parliament, he was the federal director of the Liberal Party and oversaw the party's return to government at the 1996 federal election.

Andrew Robb

Minister for Trade and Investment
In office
18 September 2013  18 February 2016
Prime MinisterTony Abbott
Malcolm Turnbull
Preceded byRichard Marles
Succeeded bySteven Ciobo
Minister for Vocational and Further Education
In office
23 January 2007  3 December 2007
Prime MinisterJohn Howard
Preceded byGary Hardgrave
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Goldstein
In office
9 October 2004  9 May 2016
Preceded byDavid Kemp
Succeeded byTim Wilson
Personal details
Andrew John Robb

(1951-08-20) 20 August 1951
Epping, Victoria, Australia
Political partyLiberal Party of Australia
Spouse(s)Maureen Mullane
Alma materLa Trobe University
ProfessionEconomist, politician


Robb, one of nine children, was born to Frank and Marie Robb, on a dairy farm in Epping which lies 18 kilometres (11 mi) north of Melbourne. He was educated at Dookie Agricultural College, Parade College and La Trobe University, and has qualifications in economics and agricultural science. He was an agricultural economist with the Victorian Department of Agriculture and a Tutor in Economics at La Trobe University before being an economist for the National Farmers' Federation, and later Executive Director of both the National Farmers' Federation and the Cattle Council of Australia.

Liberal Party

Robb became Deputy Director of the Liberal Party before being appointed Chief of Staff to Andrew Peacock, then Leader of the Opposition, in 1989. In 1990, after Andrew Peacock's resignation after his election defeat, Robb was appointed Federal Director of the Liberal Party.

In this capacity Robb worked with the next Leader of the Liberal Party, John Hewson, in the unsuccessful 1993 federal election campaign. Robb claimed in 1991 that Peter Reith and Hewson were spooked into releasing their policies too early.[1] He was a Federal Director and campaign manager for John Howard in the 1996 federal election campaign, which defeated the Keating government and brought the Liberals to power after 13 years in Opposition.

Professional career

Robb resigned in 1997 (he was replaced by Lynton Crosby) and became a business consultant based in Sydney. He was Honorary Finance Director for the NSW Division of the Liberal Party and a member of the NSW State Executive. In that time Robb also sat on the boards of numerous Australian companies including Australia's largest consulting engineering company, Sinclair Knight Merz. Robb was also a board member of community organisations including the Garvan Medical Research Foundation and the 'Big Brothers Big Sisters' organisation. In 2003, Robb was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for service to politics, agriculture and the community.[2]

Parliamentary career

Howard Government

In 2004, he was comfortably elected to the safe Liberal seat of Goldstein in Melbourne and was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs on 27 January 2006. His time in this portfolio was marked by introducing a Citizenship discussion paper which encouraged public debate about whether Australia required a formal citizenship test. Robb argued that a formal citizenship test would be a clear incentive for aspiring citizens to have basic English language skills and understanding of their community.[3] Robb also focused on dealing with settlement issues for refugees and the challenges of multi-faith relations in Australia.

In 2007, Robb was elevated to the Ministry and took on the role as Minister for Vocational and Further Education. Following the Liberal Party's defeat at the 2007 federal election, Robb put himself forward as a candidate for Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party. In a ballot of Liberal caucus members, Julie Bishop prevailed with 44 votes, ahead of Robb who won 25 votes and Christopher Pyne with 18 votes.[4] The then leader of the Liberal Party, former Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, announced that Robb would be Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs in the new Coalition Shadow Cabinet.

Following a front-bench re-shuffle in March 2010, Robb was appointed Shadow Minister for Finance, Deregulation and Debt Reduction, a post previously held by Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce, and Chairman of the Coalition Policy Development Committee.[5] He was re-elected at the 2010 election and was appointed Shadow Minister for Finance, Deregulation and Debt Reduction and retained his position as Chairman of the Coalition Policy Development Committee.[6]

Robb is a republican;[7] he is against abortion except where the health and state of the mother are in serious threat.[8]

Robb is also the co-publisher of The Party Room alongside Senator Mitch Fifield, a journal designed to promote new policy discussion within the Federal Coalition.

Abbott and Turnbull governments

Following the election of the Abbott Government in 2013, Robb was appointed Minister for Trade and Investment.[9] He had carriage of final negotiations for the Australia–Korea Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA), Japan–Australia Economic Partnership Agreement, China–Australia Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership which have concluded by the federal government.

Robb announced his retirement from politics on the 10 February 2016. He was succeeded by Steven Ciobo on 18 February 2016.[10]

Career after politics

Robb is a Board Member of the Kidman cattle enterprise and the Network Ten television station. He is the Chairman of Asialink and CNSDose, and a strategic advisor to Beef Innovations Australia, as well as a range of national and international businesses.[11]

In October 2016, it was announced that Robb had joined the Landbridge Group,[12][13] a Chinese company which had been granted a 99-year lease on Port Darwin in 2015, as a "high-level economic consultant".[14] It was reported that Robb had accepted the $73,000 per month position before leaving Parliament.[15][16] Landbridge Group is chaired by Ye Cheng, a billionaire with links to the Communist Party of China.[16][17] Robb's employment with Landbridge Group ended in 2018, which Robb attributed to an atmosphere increasingly critical of the Chinese government.[18]

Robb is part owner of The Boathouse Group, which operates a number of Sydney restaurants and other venues. Another Robb entity is facing (in mid 2019) a wind-up motion from the Commissioner of Taxation over unpaid taxes.[19]

Personal life

During 2009 Laurie Oakes's column in The Australian, Robb disclosed that he was stepping down from the opposition front bench for three months to address a form of depression brought on by Diurnal Variation, which is typically experienced as positive mood variation (PMV – mood being worse upon waking and better in the evening).[20] Robb disclosed that, since adolescence, he had suffered depression for several hours each day in the morning.[21]

The following week, Robb said in an interview with 3AW's Neil Mitchell that he had found "doing things increasingly more difficult, I could be taking on more responsibilities especially in a public sense and decided to confront it a few weeks ago. Rang Jeff Kennett and within three days he had me in front one of the best professionals in the state and this guy said you know you've had a problem for fifty years, you've had it for fifty years but he said it was fixable, which was fantastic."[21]


  1. Wright, Jessica (11 November 2012). "With memories of '93, the opposition readies the troops never to lose an unlosable election again". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  2. "ROBB: Andrew: Officer of the Order of Australia". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 2003.
  3. "In support of formal citizenship test". Andrew Robb. 25 October 2006. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  4. "Nelson's victory puts Turnbull on deck". The Sydney Morning Herald. 20 November 2007.
  5. Archived 18 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Archived 17 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Donovan, David (18 August 2010). "Liberals quietly go monarchist under Abbott". Crikey. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  8. "MPs clarify abortion views". The Age. 9 November 2004. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  9. The Hon Andrew Robb AO, MP; Parliament of Australia; online 30 Nov 2014
  10. "Tony Abbott's cabinet and outer ministry". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  11. Robb, Andrew. "Biography". Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  12. "Andrew Robb's secret China contract: money for nothing". 6 December 2017.
  13. "Andrew Robb unleashes over being targeted in foreign probe". 5 December 2017.
  14. "Robb joins Chinese company with control of Darwin Port". ABC News. 30 October 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  15. Chan, Gabrielle (6 June 2017). "Coalition defends Andrew Robb after revelation he started job while an MP". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  16. "ASIO warned politicians about taking cash from Huang Xiangmo, Chau Chak Wing". Australian Financial Review. 15 June 2017. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  17. "China's 'invisible billionaire' – the Port of Darwin's new owner". Australian Financial Review. 22 November 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  18. Borrello, Eliza (12 March 2019). "Robb says work on a project in China was 'put in the bin' over toxic relations". ABC News. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  19. White, Andrew (2 August 2019). "Investors keep The Boathouse Group afloat". The Australian.
  20. "Home". beyondblue. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  21. "Interview with Neil Mitchell, 3AW 693am: Andrew Robb MP - Federal Member for Goldstein". Andrew Robb. 21 September 2009. Archived from the original on 19 June 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Dr David Kemp
Member for Goldstein
Succeeded by
Tim Wilson
Political offices
Preceded by
Gary Hardgrave
Minister for Vocational and Further Education
Position abolished
Preceded by
Richard Marles
as Minister for Trade
Minister for Trade and Investment
Succeeded by
Steven Ciobo
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