Dastyari quits leadership post over China

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Labor senator Sam Dastyari has resigned from his Senate leadership roles as the saga surrounding his connections to China continues.

Senator Dastyari told the upper house on Thursday that he was quitting his role as deputy opposition Senate whip after being asked to do so by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Leaked audio revealed he clearly defended China’s controversial South China Sea policy.

‘The Chinese integrity of its borders is a matter for China,’ Mr Dastyari said in the audio from a press conference with Chinese reporters in June 2016, which was published in various media outlets on Wednesday.

Senator Dastyari previously told the ABC he had only ‘incorrectly’ mumbled an answer to a question he should not have taken.

‘I told Senator Dastyari that his mischaracterisation of how he came to make comments contradicting Labor policy made his position untenable,’ Mr Shorten said in a statement on Thursday.

Attorney-General George Brandis told Sky News Sam Dastyari has undermined his party’s foreign policy.

He also questioned the extent of the influence of a Chinese Communist Party-linked donor over Senator Dastyari, saying it was something both he and Mr Shorten had to address.

‘Why is it that plainly at the behest of Huang Xiangmo is he trying to subvert and undermine the official Labor Party policy?’

‘What was Senator Dastyari’s game? Why was he doing that? And why was he doing that standing beside a person who had financial influence over him, who was literally pulling his strings?’ Senator Brandis said.

Defence Minister Marise Payne said Senator Dastyari’s behaviour was ‘completely untenable’, echoing comments on Wednesday from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

‘This clearly shows that in the Australian Labor Party apparently saying one thing and purporting to put out a particular message is acceptable on national security

‘Senator Dastyari has misled us all in relation to what he said,’ she told Sky News.

She said Mr Shorten needed to provide a fuller explanation of what he planned to do in relation to Senator Dastyari, given his return to senior positions five months after he was last demoted.

Skynews

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