Labor Senator Sam Dastyari has announced his upcoming resignation from Parliament, following a string of scandals surrounding unsanctioned backdoor communications with Chinese interests.
Fronting a news conference in Sydney this morning, Dastyari said he will not return to the Senate in 2018.
“I have not reached this decision lightly,” Dastyari said, adding that he believed he “should leave if my ongoing presence detracts for the pursuit of Labor’s mission.
“It is evident to me that we are at that point, so I will spare the party any further distraction.”
The scrutiny of Dastyari began last year, when it was revealed he vowed to support the Chinese government’s stance on a series of contested islands in the South China Sea – a position that goes against that of the Labor Party, and against Australia’s foreign policy more broadly.
Those comments came during an election campaign presser with billionaire political donor Huang Xiangmo, who had allegedly stumped up funds for some of Dastyari’s legal bills.
After being removed from his frontbench role for the comments, the senator managed to fight his way back into the ALP‘s broader plans. However, a tape obtained by Fairfax late last month revealed Dastyari defended China’s position much more vehemently than first reported.
Fairfax also reported that Dastyari also lobbied Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek to avoid meeting with pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, leading Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to say Dastyari is a “double agent.”