A high-profile Chinese donor reportedly pulled out of a promised $400,000 pledge after Labor criticised China’s activity in the South China Sea.
In a speech ahead of last year’s election then-Shadow Defence Minister Stephen Conroy said a Labor government would take a stronger stance on the disputed region.
The joint-investigation by Fairfax and ABC’s Four Corners alleges Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo was critical of the Labor policy just one day before Senator Sam Dastyari told the Chinese media that Australia should not interfere with China’s activity in the South China Sea.
The Labor senator was dumped from the shadow front bench after it emerged that Mr Xiangmo had donated money allegedly to pay for his legal bills.
Senator Dastyari also reportedly pressed the immigration department on the status of the Chinese billionaire’s citizenship application.
He was unavailable for comment, but sent a statement to Buzzfeed.
‘Since becoming a senator my office has dealt with over 200 immigration and citizenship matters from the NSW’s migrant community including Chinese, Brazilian, Indian and Pakistani,’ the statement reads.
‘This is part of my job – my office does this every day and considers every request for assistance, as every politician should.’
‘As is the standard practice I passed on inquiries about the progress of the application to the department.’
Australia is one of a small number of countries that allows foreign donations to its political parties.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten says Senator Dastyari has already been punished and the ABC program showed the need for donations reform.
‘In terms of Senator Dastyari he has been penalised for his indiscretions in the past,’ he said.
‘But I know that he will vote to ban foreign donations in the parliament.’
‘I want to see Mr Turnbull show the same leadership we are showing.’
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