Stuart was born in Victoria and grew up in Bundaberg on a cane farm with hard-working parents who sacrificed a great deal for Stuart and his brother and sister. His family would later embark on a range of successful small businesses and would prove that hard work, initiative and risk-taking maximise the opportunity for success.
Stuart completed his schooling at the Rockhampton Grammar School, and his experience strengthened his resolve that parents should be able to send their children to a school of their choice. Stuart knows that many parents struggle and sacrifice to do so.
At Rockhampton Grammar, Stuart secured a scholarship to the Australian Defence Force Academy as an army officer cadet. Following the academy, Stuart attended the Royal Military College Duntroon and subsequently served with a diverse range of units. These included the 3rd Battalion the Royal Australian Regiment, and the 51st Battalion the Far North Queensland Regiment, based on Thursday Island, which was at the time the largest Indigenous unit in the Defence Force. This period was also a time of study for Stuart, mostly part-time, for many years, to complete two master's degrees in business administration and information technology.
A great part of Stuart's 12-year military career was spent working within military intelligence, specifically in intelligence and security. That included a four month tour of duty with the peace monitoring force in Bougainville following the civil war. Stuart is proud to have served his country overseas and to have helped bring peace to an island that had suffered so much.
Following his military career, Stuart and a colleague founded an IT services firm that subsequently grew to be a nationwide company, named twice in the Business Review Weekly Fast 100 list, which recognises the fastest-growing 100 companies in Australia.
Founding and developing a small business is difficult. It demands tremendous risk-taking, resourcefulness and courage in the early days to go without paying yourself for six months to meet cash flow requirements, to mortgage the family home and to work long hours to get ahead. This is what it means to start and run a small business in Australia. Stuart believes that this is what it means to step out and employ fellow Australians.
Stuart became a founding director of Watoto Australia and a member of the Watoto International board, which operates one of the world's largest and most unique orphan programs, operating out of Uganda, where there are currently more than two million orphaned children due to HIV-AIDS and war.
The Watoto model is to rescue children and care for their physical, spiritual and emotional needs, including housing them with a mother and seven new siblings. These houses are grouped into villages with electricity, running water, schools, medical clinics and auditoriums. The premise is that orphaned children growing up in a home with a loving mother, with an identity and with an opportunity to go to the best schools, universities and technical colleges, will shine more so than if simply placed in an institution. Stuart believes that, as we rescue a child, we raise a leader and we will rebuild nations.
Stuart is married with three sons and understands first hand the challenges that face local families. As a local, a father and a businessman, Stuart believes investing in important things like building a safer community, making better, safer local roads and protecting our waterways has never been more important to our quality of life and the future of the northern Gold Coast region. Stuart believes this holds true not only for individuals, but also for small business owners who need to be supported with better trained, better skilled workers in a time of low unemployment.
In his spare time, Stuart enjoys spending time with family and serving the community through his local church. Stuart is a keen supporter of community organisations such as 107.3 Community Radio, Bravehearts and Compassion.
Stuart was elected as the Federal Member for Fadden at the 2007 Federal Election and is currently the Assistant Minister for Defence.