Dastyari sacked as deputy Senate whip over China revelations

Thursday, 30 November 2017, 06:12:02 AM. The Opposition Leader sacks the Labor senator from his role as deputy Senate whip over new revelations about his comments on the South China Sea policy.

Bill Shorten and Sam Dastyari Photo: Bill Shorten is not telling Sam Dastyari to quit as a senator. (AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Bill Shorten has sacked Labor senator Sam Dastyari from his job as deputy Senate whip.

The Labor leader called Senator Dastyari last night and told him he was dumping him from the role given to him earlier this year, as well as his job as a Senate committee chair.

The Government is demanding Senator Dastyari quit Parliament over new revelations about his comments on the South China Sea policy last year.

Mr Shorten is not telling Senator Dastyari to quit as a senator, but has issued a statement saying his mischaracterisation of the comments made his position untenable.

"I also told him that while I accept his word that he never had, nor disclosed, any classified information, his handling of these matters showed a lack of judgement," Mr Shorten's statement said.

"I know that Senator Dastyari will learn from this experience."

A tape emerged yesterday showing Senator Dastyari giving a detailed defence of China's policy in the South China Sea last year, in defiance of official ALP policy.

The recording shows Senator Dastyari's remarks to Chinese media were stronger than he previously had portrayed them.

Standing next to a wealthy Chinese businessman and ALP donor, Senator Dastyari backed the Chinese Government's refusal to abide by international court rulings on the South China Sea, stating that: "The Chinese integrity of its borders is a matter for China".

Senator Dastyari's remarks, delivered on June 17 last year, during the federal election campaign, flatly contradicted those made by fellow Labor senator and Defence spokesman Stephen Conroy just one day earlier.

Senator Dastyari quit the Labor frontbench last year, in part because reports emerged in Chinese media that he had contradicted ALP policy.

He also admitted at the time that Chinese businessman Huang Xiangmo paid a legal bill for him.

Leaking of security information 'a key issue'

Labor senator Doug Cameron backed Mr Shorten's decision to sack Senator Dastyari.

"The leader has made a decision that is the correct decision for the leader to make," Senator Cameron said.

But he raised strong concerns about the way the intelligence information had leaked out.

"One of the key issues arising out of this is how does the so-called ASIO or security investigations become public?" Senator Cameron said.

"I think that is a key issue and that is what we need to have a look at."

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