POLITICS

Bill Shorten Says Government Attacks On Sam Dastyari Are 'Hardly News'

Ministers blast "Shanghai Sam", but Shorten says his frontbencher won't do it again

05/09/2016 1:34 PM AEST | Updated September 5, 2016 14:42

CANBERRA-- The Turnbull Government insists Labor frontbencher Sam Dastyari is "seriously compromised" and has "undermined Australia's foreign policy" over his Chinese paid bills, but Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's response to the intensifying Coalition campaign is "that's hardly news, is it?"

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and senior ministers have stood up one after another in a bid to get Senator Dastyari dumped as Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate over a personal bill of $1670 paid for by a Chinese Government linked company, Top Education Institute.

Senator Dastyari has given a short explanation in the Senate and admitted he was wrong "on reflection" to have accepted the payment, but the Government is demanding more answers.

Standing in the Chinese city of Hangzhou for the G20 summit, Mr Turnbull lambasted Senator Dastyari for going against Australian -- and Labor -- policy in appearing to support China over the South China Sea dispute.

"Bill Shorten is standing up for Sam Dastyari's right to take cash from a company, associated with a foreign government, and then express a view on foreign policy that undermines the Australian Government's foreign policy, which has been supported by Mr Shorten himself," the Prime Minister said.

Sanghee Liu, Fairfax
Malcolm Turnbull says Bill Shorten has a decision to make over Sam Dastyari's future

"Mr Shorten has got to decide whether he is going to continue standing up for Sam Dastyari's cash for comment."

The Leader of Government Business Christopher Pyne told Radio National: "The seduction of Sam Dastyari has obviously been going on for some time"; Attorney-General George Brandis told Sky News that Senator Dastyari is "seriously compromised" and Treasurer Scott Morrison has given the Senator a new nickname: "Shanghai Sam".

While the Coalition smells blood, the Labor Leader Bill Shorten does not.

"I have certainly explained my unhappiness with what he has done. He has made clear to me that he has learned his lesson," the Opposition Leader told reporters in Melbourne.

"I've just said to him that he shouldn't have done it and he said he won't do it again. In terms of Liberals calling for Labor MPs to be disciplined, that's hardly news, is it?"

The Labor Leader, instead, wants the Prime Minister to spell out to the business leaders he meets at overseas summits this month that donations should not be given to Australian political parties.

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