Boot him out’: Malcolm Turnbull hints Sam Dastyari could be under investigation
Malcolm Turnbull has hinted embattled Labor senator Sam Dastyari could be under security agency investigation as he seeks to ramp up pressure on Bill Shorten to boot him out of Federal Parliament.
The Prime Minister says Senator Dastyari “betrayed Australia” in his dealings with billionaire Chinese donor Huang Xiangmo and the Opposition Leader is “failing as a leader” by sticking by him.
As revealed by Fairfax Media last week, Senator Dastyari warned the Chinese Communist Party-linked Mr Huang his phone was likely being tapped by intelligence agencies, during talks in October last year.
Their meeting in the grounds of Mr Huang’s Sydney mansion came two weeks after Senator Dastyari quit the Labor frontbench over his financial dealings with Mr Huang. Before they spoke, Senator Dastyari said they should leave their phones inside and go outside to speak.
The meeting also occurred after domestic intelligence agency ASIO briefed senior political figures, including from Labor, that Mr Huang was of interest to the agency over his opaque links to the Chinese government.
After the revelations, Mr Shorten said he had lost faith in the NSW powerbroker and stripped him of several minor parliamentary roles, worth about $10,000 a year.
As the government prepares to introduce foreign interference legislation into parliament as early as this week, Mr Turnbull says Mr Shorten must do more against Senator Dastyari.
“He has betrayed Australia’s interest. How Shorten can stick with Dastyari and represent himself as a fit and proper person to be prime minister of Australia is utterly beyond me,” Mr Turnbull said.
Shorten should stand up for Australia. His failure to do so means he puts his factional survival – which depends apparently on Senator Dastyari – ahead of the national security of the country he wants to lead. It’s time for Bill Shorten to show he’s really on Australia’s side and boot Dastyari out.”
Asked if he would order some kind of investigation into Senator Dastyari’s actions, Mr Turnbull said: “You shouldn’t assume it’s not being investigated. This is a political matter and I don’t give directions to our police or our security agencies on operational matters. And certainly on a matter like this, this is a matter for them.
“But this is a test of Bill Shorten’s character. What does Dastyari have to do before Shorten acknowledges that he is not fit to sit in the Senate?”
However Labor sources do not believe Senator Dastyari really is under investigation.
“What a disgrace,” said a senior opposition figure. “He’s practically begging security agencies to investigate his political opponents. There is nothing this fraud will stop at to cling to his job.”
The government is poised the outlaw foreign political donations as part of its foreign interference crackdown, which follows a six-month review of Australia’s espionage laws.
The crackdown is expected to impose stricter penalties on people who support foreign intelligence agencies or seek to interfere in Australia’s political system. There is also expected to be a new register for people or organisations linked to foreign powers.
Source : SMH.com.au