The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Front Page - SHARRI MARK­SON

SAM Dast­yari faces an in­quiry by the pow­er­ful priv­i­leges com­mit­tee into whether he was paid by China to act as their po­lit­i­cal stooge in Can­berra.

It comes af­ter The Daily Tele­graph yes­ter­day re­vealed the La­bor sen­a­tor had asked 115 par­lia­men­tary ques­tions in three years rep­re­sent­ing Chi­nese in­ter­ests.

At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Ge­orge Bran­dis was last night granted per­mis­sion to re­fer Mr Dast­yari to the priv­i­leges com­mit­tee — which can im­prison for up to six months. The mo­tion will be moved on the first day of the Se­nate’s re­turn next year.

Se­cu­rity an­a­lysts and exspooks yes­ter­day warned his hound­ing of De­fence of­fi­cials with ques­tions over China had “the hall­marks of a long-term cul­ti­va­tion”.

THE Turn­bull gov­ern­ment has moved to re­fer Sam Dast­yari to the pow­er­ful priv­i­leges com­mit­tee to in­ves­ti­gate whether he has used his time in Par­lia­ment to act as an agent for the Chi­nese Gov­ern­ment in re­turn for tak­ing money from them.

At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Ge­orge Bran­dis was last night granted per­mis­sion from the Se­nate Pres­i­dent to re­fer Mr Dast­yari to the priv­i­leges com­mit­tee, which has the power to im­prison some­one for up to six months, af­ter rev­e­la­tions in The Daily Tele­graph about the ex­tent of ques­tions on China to se­nior pub­lic ser­vants.

Mr Bran­dis’ mo­tion asks the com­mit­tee to in­ves­ti­gate: “Whether the con­duct of Sen­a­tor Dast­yari in ac­cept­ing funds from pri­vate en­ti­ties, in­clud­ing the Yuhu Group and the Top Ed­u­ca­tion In­sti­tute and pro­ceed­ing to ask ques­tions of pub­lic ser­vants which ap­peared to rep­re­sent the views of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China on for­eign pol­icy and de­fence mat­ters con­sti­tutes a con­tempt of the Se­nate.”

The mo­tion will be moved to re­fer Mr Dast­yari on the first day of the Se­nate’s re­turn next year.

It comes as se­cu­rity an­a­lysts and for­mer spooks warned that the sen­a­tor’s hound­ing of top De­fence of­fi­cials with ques­tions rep­re­sent­ing China’s con­cerns more than one hun­dred times “has all the hall­marks of a longterm cul­ti­va­tion”. The La­bor sen­a­tor grilled De­fence Depart­ment sec­re­tary Den­nis Richard­son and for­mer DFAT sec­re­tary Peter Vargh­ese 115 times in three years, echo­ing the pol­icy po­si­tion of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment. For­mer De­fence Depart­ment deputy sec­re­tary Peter Jen­nings, now the Aus­tralian Strate­gic Pol­icy In­sti­tute ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, said he had looked “very closely” at Mr Dast­yari’s ques­tions in Se­nate com­mit­tees and his other state­ments in the Se­nate. “It is eerie how closely they chan­nel lines of com­ment that we get from Chi­nese sources,” he said. Three for­mer in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials also flagged se­ri­ous con­cerns about those ques­tions. “The be­hav­iour of Sen­a­tor Dast­yari has all the hall­marks of a long-term cul­ti­va­tion,” one said. “Vin­tage re­cruit­ment strat­egy in­volves a sub­ject not know­ing they are in over their head un­til they can’t feel the bot­tom any­more.” An­other said: “Sen­a­tor Dast­yari has clearly ab­di­cated his re­spon­si­bil­ity to Aus­tralia by ad­vo­cat­ing a for­eign power’s poli­cies.”

How we broke the story.

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