Politics

Sam Dastyari Has Resigned From Federal Parliament

The Labor Senator was under intense pressure from his own party.

Embattled Labor Senator Sam Dastyari has announced his resignation from Parliament at a press conference in Sydney this morning.

Dastaryi has been in the political spotlight since reports emerged last month of a meeting between the Senator and Chinese businessman Huang Xiangmo, a significant donor to both major political parties. Dastyari allegedly warned Huang that his phone was being tapped by security agencies.

The senator denied passing on any classified information, but Coalition MPs including the Prime Minister and the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, accused him of giving “counter-surveillance advice” to Huang and said his position was “untenable”.

It wasn’t the first time Dastyari was caught up in a scandal involving Huang. Back in 2016 it was revealed that a company linked to Huang had paid a personal legal bill of Dastyari’s worth $40,000.

Labor leader Bill Shorten responded to the more recent controversy by stripping Dastyari of his extra responsibilities, but since then there’s been an avalanche of stories about Dastyari’s relationship with China.

A report this week alleged that Dastyari had warned Labor’s shadow foreign minister, Tanya Plibersek, to not meet a pro-democracy activist during a visit to Hong Kong. Another report highlighted how Dastyari had used Senate Estimates to ask government officials more than 100 questions about how defence policy would impact Australia’s relationship with China.

A number of Labor MPs this week urged Dastyari to consider his position in Parliament, as the growing scandal continued to distract from the government’s woes and sucked up Labor’s oxygen going into the Bennelong by-election this Saturday.

There were reports this morning that Bill Shorten was considering asking Dastyari to resign to avoid the scandal going into next year. During this morning’s press conference Dastyari said that “best service” he could render to the Labor party would be by resigning and he acknowledged his presence was a growing distraction for the Labor party.

Dastyari’s press conference this morning was very brief and the former Senator refused to take any questions.