So Dastyari has resigned from the Senate, because the government has hammered him for initially accepting a payment of $1670 for a bill from the Finance Department when he had exceeded his staff travel allowance. The organisation who paid the bill was the Top Education Institute, which has strong ties to the Chinese Government. This cost Dastyari his seat on the front bench in 20161.
Next came the revelation that Dastyari had warned the wealthy Chinese donor, Huang Xiangmo, that his phone may be bugged. The government made a meal out of this, almost as if Dastyari had betrayed some state secret, or that a Chinese national deeply involved with both sides of politics would be surprised that his phone was bugged2. This warning was said in a private conversation, and there are questions over where this revelation came from. Although Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) was mentioned, it is more likely that it came directly or indirectly from Huang.
The latest revelation was that Dastyari advised Deputy Opposition Leader, Tanya Plibersek to not meet a Chinese political scientist and pro-democracy activist, Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, who is an Australian citzen, as it might upset some members of the Chinese community in Australia. This was also followed by warnings by the then Chinese ambassador to Australia, Ma Zhaoxu. Despite these warnings, Plibersek went ahead and met the professor anyway3.
After this, the bizarre Peter Dutton, the minister for almost everything, called Dastyari a double agent, and this was not under parliamentary privilege. If I was Dastyari, I’d sue him for defamation. Shorten had contacted ASIO after one of these events, and they told him that Dastyari was not a security risk4. So, as usual, Dutton was probably lying
The hypocrisy of the government is astonishing. They have been shown to be just as deeply indebted to the same Chines donor as Dastyari. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann received a donation of $20,000 just before the election last year. Of course, Cormann immediately said that all of the donations were lawful and declared. Cormann also met Mr Huang, although he did state that there was no evidence of the Coalition being influenced, and that it stood up for the national interest, ‘unlike former Senator Sam Dastyari’.5 It is a bit like saying that we accept donations, while they accept bribes. Yeah, right!
As far as not wanting to upset the Chinese community in Australia and the Chinese Government, Malcolm Turnbull has also been guilty of this. That is the reason he did not meet the Dalai Lama6.
Donations totalling about $500,000 were made to the Western Australian branch of the Liberal Party over 2014-2016. Several of these donations have been obscured by the channelling of funds via individual executives or related companies, or simply by the donors’ failure to disclose them to the Australian Electoral Commission; an apparent breach of Commonwealth law7.
Recently, the government has highlighted the fact that Huang Xiangmo paid $55,000 to attend a lunch with Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten in 20158. However, Malcolm Turnbull had dinner with Chinese donors after they donated $40,000 to the Queensland Liberal National Party before the recent Queensland election9. While Dastyari has fallen on his sword, the stench will linger long over the government and its willingness to accept donations from all and sundry, including foreign nationals. However, the Dastyari debacle, is not so much about accepting foreign donations or being a bit too pally with foreign nationals, it is mostly about the by-election in Bennelong. Despite the idiotic assertions of Dutton, there will be no arrest warrant issued for Dastyari for the crime of treason, as one would expect if what he said was true. There will be no follow up from the government, because they all know they have been guilty of exactly the same misdemeanours. All the accusations and assertions of criminal acts, have just one aim, to convince the more gullible in the electorate that the Labor Party is guilty of something. Anything.