An Iranian-Australian and a Chinaman walk into a bar…
The situation surrounding Sam Dastyari will show yet again that there’s one rule of law for the political class and another for the rest of society.
To be perfectly clear, I’m not saying that Dastyari is ‘for sale’ or that he accepted a filthy bribe – or that a Chinese person connected with the Chinese government provided one to him. That would be potentially libelous of me and I’m not The Sydney Morning Herald.
However, what I am saying is that there is most certainly a case which warrants further investigation. Let’s have another look at what we know so far:
- In January 2014, Dastyari flew to Beijing courtesy of the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs. During the trip he visited the head office of the Yuhu Group, as well as Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant.
- On 20 November 2014, Dastyari declared a payment of around $40,000, made by Yuhu Group as being ‘support for settlement of outstanding legal matter’.
- Around 8 April 2015, Dastyari received a ‘donation’ for a personal debt of $1,670.82 from a company with links to the Chinese government (Top Education Institute).
- On 12 October 2015, Dastyari declared the $1,670.82 donation made to settle his personal debt.
- In January 2016, Senator Dastyari flew to Beijing on a trip paid for by the International Communist Party of China.
- On 17 June 2016, after banking the above money, Dastyari said the following:
“The South China Sea is China’s own affair. On this issue, Australia should remain neutral and respect China’s decision,” he said.
[TMR: calling it ‘China’s own affair’ and asking us to ‘respect China’s decision’ are not quite neutral things to say there Sam].
- On 29 August 2016, the Australian Financial Review reported on an editorial written by the the chairman of the above mentioned Yuhu Group (Huang Xiangmo):
The Chinese community will increasingly demand a greater say in Australian public life, after being used as a “cash cow” by both sides of politics then ignored, according to one of the country’s biggest political donors.
“The Australian Chinese community is inexperienced in using political donations to satisfy political requests,” he wrote in an editorial for the state-run Global Times newspaper, which circulates throughout China, on Monday.
“We need to learn … how to have a more efficient combination between political requests and political donations.”
“Paying the money would bring a sense of security,” he wrote.
“Chinese people were always used as a cash cow by politicians, but then they did not worry about helping the Chinese community.”
Mr Huang has also helped Labor Senator Sam Dastyari pay legal bills dating from his time running the ALP in NSW.
What more do the Federal Police need to have a further look into Dastyari on this – a runway and a set of lights?
Of course, the reality is that this matter will not go any further. This is because the issue runs too deep. Firstly, Dastyari is probably not the only politician who’s been doing this sort of thing and cockroaches tend not to like having the rug lifted on them:
An ABC investigation of recent political donations from the past two years reveals Chinese businesses are by far the largest foreign-linked donors to both major parties.
Between 2013 and 2015 Chinese-linked companies and individual donors poured more than $5.5 million into Liberal and Labor party coffers.
(NB: as slimy as the above donations are, they’re not in the same league as donations to help settle the personal debts of individual politicians like Dastyari).
However, more relevantly, for every completed bribe, there’s a giver and a taker who’ve committed an offence. So any investigation and prosecution would necessarily involve some high powered Chinese people. And we wouldn’t want that now would we?
Lastly, there’s an important line of questioning that the media has so far failed to press Bill Shorten and Dastyari on. That is, if Dastyari supposedly ‘didn’t break any rules’, then:
- Why did Shorten speak ‘severely’ to Dastyari and say that this is not the behaviour he expects in the future?
- Why has Dastyari apologised and repeatedly said that he made a mistake and that he’ll never do it again?
Why haven’t Shorten and Dastyari been asked to specifically spell out what Dastyari’s mistake was and why his behaviour was wrong?
This would have been far better than simply asking the obvious and easily avoided question of why Dastyari asked for and took the money.
One has to wonder how far this would have gone if it wasn’t for Cory Bernardi, who is looking more and more like a real winner these days.