Dastyari departure an opportunity for WA MPs
The resignation of Labor senator Sam Dastyari opens the door for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to promote a West Australian, such as rookie Perth MP Tim Hammond, to the frontbench to correct the State’s lack of representation in the shadow ministry.
Senator Dastyari came under fire over revelations he asked the Sydney-based Top Education Institute last year to pay a $1670 travel debt.
The institute is owned by Chinese businessman Minshen Zhu, who has close links to China’s communist regime.
Senator Dastyari’s pecuniary interest register also disclosed another Chinese benefactor, Huang Xiangmo, had paid for trips to China and provided about $5000 for a legal settlement.
The Government accused Senator Dastyari of “cash for comment” over Chinese reports quoting him saying Australia should respect Beijing’s position on South China Sea territorial claims, putting him at odds with Government and Labor policy.
He has tried to defuse the controversy by apologising for asking the institute to pay the bill and suggesting he had misspoken or been misquoted on the South China Sea.
Senator Dastyari, 33, had the relatively junior job as consumer affairs spokesman but was manager of Opposition business in the Senate, a key role in dealing with the fractious crossbench.
He is also a factional chief in the Labor Right and crucial to Mr Shorten’s leadership.
Mr Shorten said Senator Dastyari had a bright future ahead of him and more to offer Labor.