Dastyari resigns from parliament over links to Chinese businessmen

Dastyari resigns from parliament over links to Chinese businessmen

By Kristina Rosengren

Embattled Labor Senator Sam Dastyari has announced he will not be returning to the Senate next year.

The announcement came amid increasing pressure to quit the parliament over alleged misconduct involving a Chinese billionaire.

“Today, after much reflection, I’ve decided that the best service I can render to the federal parliamentary Labor Party is to not return to the Senate in 2018,” the Senator told reporters at a press conference in Sydney on Tuesday.

“I’ve been guided by my Labor values, which tell me that I should leave if my ongoing presence detracts from the pursuit of Labor’s mission,” he said.

“Reflecting on the events which led to my decision, I leave knowing that I’ve always honoured my parliamentary oath.”

It is not the first time the Senator has been pressured to step back over his links to China. More than a year ago Mr Dastyari resigned from Labor’s frontbench, over revelations he accepted a political donation, by allowing a company owned  by Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo to pay a legal bill for his office.

In stepping down in 2016, Senator Dastyari said accepting the donation was “within the rules but it was wrong”.

In the past few months there have been further revelations surfacing about his ties to the Chinese businessmen, which have led some to believe he is serving the interests of China’s Communist party.

A fortnight ago Labor leader Bill Shorten sent Mr Dastyari to the backbench, after a recording emerged of the Senator telling the Chinese Communist Party-linked businessman that US agencies could be tapping their phones, in a secret face to face meeting between the two in October this year.

The leak raised concerns that Mr Dastyari was supplying counter-surveillance advice to the political donor. As a result, Mr Dastyari lost his position as deputy Senate Whip and as the chair of a Senate committee.

Reports also emerged that the Senator, while standing next to a wealthy Chinese businessman and ALP donor, had made an outspoken speech at a Chinese media conference about the South China sea, which contradicted ALP and bi-partisan policy.

There are also reports  Mr Dastyari arranged for Mr Xiangmo to pay $55,000 to attend a lunch with Labor leader Bill Shorten.

 

Picture: AAP Image/Ben Rushton   Source:AAP

Mr Dastyari has been unable to clearly explain his dealings, which have proved to be politically unsustainable.

Mr Shorten released a statement following the Senator’s announcement, praising his decision to resign.

“Sam Dastyari is a good, decent and loyal Australian, and an effective parliamentarian, but his judgement has let him down and now he has paid the heaviest price,” Mr Shorten said.

Mr Shorten described the parliamentarian’s achievements during his political career as something to be proud of, pointing to his work in investigating banking misconduct and multinational tax avoidance.

Mr Shorten has also praised the first Iranian-born Senator for promoting “a more inclusive multicultural nation”.

The resignation could open the door for former NSW premier Kristina Keneally to enter the senate, should she lose the Bennelong by-election on December 16th.

 

 

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