Labor senator Sam Dastyari has resigned from the shadow ministry in the wake of a scandal over a getting an education company with close links to the ruling Chinese communist government to pay his travel expenses.
Dastyari was the Opposition’s for consumer affairs spokesperson and manager of opposition business in the Senate.
The senator apologised, but said yesterday that “he reflected on that and decided that wasn’t enough”.
“It’s clear to me now that this has become a distraction,” he said.
“The last thing a government as bad and divided as this deserves is a free pass. I refuse to be the reason they escape proper scrutiny.”
Dastyari thanks his leader, Bill Shorten for his “incredible support” but said “it’s not fair to him or to the millions of people who rely on Labor for my personal issues to distract from the bigger fights that we face.
“I made a mistake and I’m paying the price for that mistake.”
The Labor Party owes me nothing and I owe the Labor Party everything. Bill Shorten and the team don't deserve this distraction.
— Sam Dastyari (@samdastyari) September 7, 2016
He will remain in the Senate.
Here’s his media conference:
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) September 7, 2016
The Labor senator came under major political pressure yesterday after it emerged last week that after he’d overspent his taxpayer-funded travel budget and sent the $1,670.82 bill to a Chinese education business, Sydney-based Top Education Institute, who picked up the tab.
Senator Dastyari disclosed the payment on his register of interests in October last year after the Department of Finance sent him the invoice in April 2015.
After five days after the incident was revealed, senator Dastyari said yesterday that in getting a private company to pay the bill he “made a mistake, it was an error of judgement”.
“It was the wrong thing to have done,” he said. “I should have made that payment myself. And I regret not having done so.”
While Dastyari donated a similar amount to charity, he was unable to explain why he asked the company to pay the bill in the first place.
He has denied that payment influenced his views on China.
ALP leader Bill Shorten issued a statement saying he’d accepted Dastyari’s resignation.
“It’s the measure of the man that he can stand up, admit he got it wrong and accept the consequences,” he said.
“Sam is a young bloke with a bright future ahead of him. He has a lot more to offer Labor and Australia.”
Dastyari’s resignation from Labor’s shadow ministry comes amid calls for reform to political donations in Australia and a ban on foreign donations.
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