Mr Stewart’s Twitter posts promoting the conspiracy group may have gone unnoticed under normal circumstances. However, his wife Lynelle has a long-standing friendship with the Prime Minister and his wife Jenny. Mrs. Stewart, who has known the Morrisons through their church activities since they were all children, until recently served as Mrs. Morrison’s personal assistant. These relationships were first reported in the guard in October 2019.
Stewart’s estranged sister Karen, who ran for the Greens in Camden, has previously said it was “absolute nonsense” to claim her brother and Mr Morrison were just companions. She told News Corp last year that the two couples were close family friends.
Meanwhile, it’s Mr Stewart’s networking with other colorful liberal figures, who have questionable track records, that has raised eyebrows. The city planner has worked closely on development applications with Matt Daniel, also a former bankrupt, whose name has surfaced in his capacity as a planner in two corruption investigations. Real estate developer Rene Licata is also one of Mr Stewart and Mr Daniel’s politically well-connected clients.
Mr Licata, also previously bankrupt, operates real estate development group Manta Group. In 2014, his wife Marie Simone, also a former bankrupt, was given a good behavior bond after pleading guilty to four charges of obtaining money through fraud. Ms Simone, a councilor for Sutherland Shire, is a major Liberal Party fundraiser. She is also the chairperson of the Caringbah Liberal Party branch, where her boyfriend, Mr Daniel, himself a former Sutherland Shire councillor, is also a paid member of the department, as is her developer husband.
In 2017, Mr. Licata and Mr. Daniel founded the Commercial and Economic Planning Association, which claims to represent the interests of smaller developers. According to CEPA’s website, they charged $350 per capita in September 2019 for members and guests to dine with the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.
Like Mr. Stewart, Mr. Daniel has had some setbacks in his business dealings. His accountant Sam Cassaniti was jailed for tax fraud and the former undertaker’s development company collapsed due to $5 million creditors. Mr Daniel has been featured in back-to-back corruption investigations. In April, it was revealed that Daniel’s planning firm lobbied Canada Bay councilors for favorable rezoning on behalf of then-Liberal MP John Sidoti.
Mr Daniel and Mr Stewart were also featured in ICAC investigations into questionable planning decisions by the Canterbury Council. Documents submitted during the investigation show that the couple was on the payroll of controversial real estate developer Charbel “Charlie” Demian, who lobbied the municipality and its planners for major expansions of its development sites.
The ICAC investigation also revealed that Mr Daniel used the services of the now disgraced former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire to lobby planning officials and other ministers on behalf of Mr Daniel’s clients.
The bribes that Mr. Maguire sought to further Mr. Demian’s business interests ultimately proved to be Mr. Maguire’s downfall. ICAC has since referred both Mr Maguire and Mr Demian to the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider whether they should be prosecuted for perjury. No adverse findings were made regarding Mr. Daniel or Mr. Stewart, who failed to respond to the Herald’s questions.
The FBI first identified QAnon and its army of supporters as a “dangerous extremist group” in August 2019. Just how dangerous the group has become is evidenced by the number of QAnon supporters charged with the storming of the US Capitol building. on January 6. Supporters believe that “Q”, ostensibly a secret intelligence official, has left clues urging them to revolt against the evil forces of the “deep state”.
One of the clear cues that the QAnon adherents are clinging to is the phrase “ritual abuse”. On October 22, 2018, Stewart’s Burn Notice account tweeted, “Today a new conversation started in Australia.” He said it was a “step up” and also said the prime minister “took the story firmly in his hands and began phase 1 of our restoration.”
A prominent QAnon figure from the US was pumped. “Are my ears deceiving me?” asked Joe M. “Australia’s new Prime Minister Scott Morrison must be a rider in #The storm.”
What they were referring to was that earlier that day, the prime minister used the words “ritual abuse” in his national apology to survivors of institutional sexual abuse.
Private messages on the encrypted Signal app, which was released by Eliahi Priest, a former close associate of Mr. Stewart, shows that in the days leading up to the speech, Mr. Stewart had urged his wife to tell Mr. Morrison that it was essential that he use the term “ritual abuse” in his apology.
According to screenshots of their private conversations that Mr. Priest posted to his Facebook page, Mr. Stewart and others believed that this phrase was a secret code that victims of sexual abuse could contact.
“Well said Scott,” Mr Stewart’s son Jesse tweeted that same day. Jesse also included the hashtags #RitualAbuse. #StopChildTrafficking and #WWG1WGA. The latter is a rallying cry for QAnon members that stands for “Where We Go One, We Go All.”
There is no evidence that Mr. Morrison was influenced to shape his speech to include those words or that his choice of words was in any way related to QAnon.
Stewart’s son has previously accused former Secretary of State Alexander Downer of being a “traitor” over the latter’s role in passing information to US authorities in 2016 about the Trump campaign’s alleged connections to Russia. .
In addition to retweeting his son’s bizarre comments, Mr Stewart regularly retweeted comments from another prominent Australian QAnon supporter, @KillAuDeepState. Before he was also banned from Twitter, this account was managed by a fired psychiatrist from Dee Why, on Sydney’s northern beaches. dr. Russell McGregor was found guilty of professional misconduct and banned from practicing as a doctor in 2020. The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled that his publication of his “bizarre beliefs about global conspiracies and other troubling matters” had the potential to “deprive vulnerable psychiatric patients at risk.”
In July 2019, Dr. McGregor tweeted three images with blue and white stripes. One was Julia Gillard, in a striped jacket, who greeted Hillary Clinton. Another was a striped wall property by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and, finally, a striped background on the Ellen DeGeneres show.
“There’s nothing to see here,” tweeted Dr. McGregor.
Mr Stewart, who took the post of Dr. McGregor also retweeted, also tweeting that Epstein’s arrest exposed a satanic cabal involving many world leaders and celebrities.
The unwanted attention to Mr Stewart and his incendiary beliefs will ensure that “The Storm” will not go away any time soon with the news that the ABC’s Four corners program will now be broadcast on Monday.