Sam Dastyari is politician who appears to crave constant attention from the media. His fall from grace last year when it was revealed he had an overspend on his travel allowance paid for by a Chinese government aligned company, would have bruised his ego to no end. But this year he has gone on a relentless public campaign to rehabilitee his image, a campaign which has been eaten up by the mainstream media.
He was quietly repromoted to a Labor leadership position earlier this year as Deputy Opposition Whip in the Senate, he and the rest of the Labor Party hoped we had all forgotten last year’s scandal and things would go back to normal. He believed his rise in Australian politics was back on track.
However, his connections to Chinese government aligned companies were thrust back into the spotlight following a Four Corners episode which displayed him contradicting Labor policy on the South China Sea during a press conference with Chinese businessman and Labor donor Huang Xiangmo. Suddenly Bill Shorten and the rest of the Labor Party couldn’t pretend that Dastyari’s shadiness was now behind him.
Dastyari also appointed himself it seemed the Shadow Minister for being triggered by Pauline Hanson, One Nation and other conservatives. He released a number of professionally produced Facebook videos attempting to mock the right and virtue signal on social justice issues. Though one where he attacked expensive homes in Western Sydney backfired and he looked like an inner-city snob.
Let’s not forget the grandstanding he’s done on various Senate committees such as his call for having a Royal Commission into the banking sector and wanting multinationals to pay more tax.
He has also just released a light-hearted book for which he chose the title ‘One Halal of a Story’ which focuses on his life story. He chose this title because he thought that it would trigger those who are critical of Islam, and even got the book Halal certified by Islamic businessman Mohamed Elmouelhy. Again, this action backfired as Elmoelhy was revealed last week to be of the view that Muslim men needed to impregnate Australian women because the white race was dying.
Now his latest effort to boost his profile was assisted by the ABC’s Australian Story program last night with an episode focusing on his life and political career called ‘Playing with Fire’. It is interesting learning about his parents’ persecution by the new Iranian Islamist regime following the 1979 Revolution. You would think that life experience would result in Sam being concerned about Islamism and importing it into Australia.
The episode also traces his rise through the New South Wales Labor Party and portrays his time as General Secretary as that of rebuilder, cleaning up the mess and corruption and was currently engulfing the party in that state. He also paints his fundraising duties during that time as part of the job.
It chronicles his fall from grace as just him being a tightarse and not wanting to pay a bill. He claims that the only thing wrong with his press conference with Huang Xiangmo was that he answered a question about the South China Sea wrong. He claims he never got ASIO’s memo about not taking donations from business people with links to China. Nothing to see here apparently.
The episode finishes with him calling for a complete ban on all political donations. It appears that he is now calling for ban because he was clumsy enough to accept donations and payments from business people with links to foreign governments. It’s too hard for him to exercise proper political judgement so that means nobody else can.
It’s clear that he has not thought through the ramifications of banning all political donations and having elections public funded (by the taxpayer that is). It would be a profoundly undemocratic course of action, nobody would be able to pledge money to a political party or candidate they thought would best serve the nation. Political donations can be made for noble reasons as well.
There is also the question what a ban would mean for political lobby and activist groups across the political spectrum. What would that mean for organisations such as the Institute of Public Affairs, Centre for Independent Studies, Getup and the Australian Institute? Does that mean no citizen initial activism could be funded by private means? Could corporations no longer spend money on social justice causes such as same sex marriage?
People who want to influence Australian democracy through money would still exploit all available loophole in any law. It is a completely unworkable proposal and yet again it is just Dastyari grandstanding and trying to distract the public from his own actions. His leader Bill Shorten is not receptive to the idea, the Labor Party could never let go of all that union money.
While the media class might buy Dastyari’s about face on political donations, the rest of the public will see right through it, people are already sick of his constant desire for media attention. He is not the golden boy of the Labor Party, he is their naughty boy. It probably won’t be long until slippery Sam slips up again and let’s hope next time he isn’t given a free pass.