POLITICS

Senator Sam Dastyari Resigns From Labor's Front Bench

'Shanghai Sam' has taken its toll on the senator.

07/09/2016 5:33 PM AEST | Updated September 7, 2016 20:23

Labor Senator Sam Dastyari has stepped down from the frontbench after it was revealed a Chinese company paid $1670 of his personal travel debt after he exceeded his work travel spending limit.

The 33-year-old announced his resignation at a press conference in Sydney on Wednesday night, following a disastrous 'ask me anything' appearance on Tuesday.

Dastyari was manager of opposition business in the Senate and shadow spokesman for consumer affairs. After offering his resignation to Labor leader Bill Shorten, Dastyari will take a step back and continue to serve as a NSW senator.

"Yesterday, I called the press conference and answered questions. Today, I have reflected on that and decided that wasn't enough. It's clear to me now that this has become a distraction," Dastyari told media on Wednesday.

"I made all the necessary disclosures and what I did was within the rules but it was wrong.

"I fell short of the duty I owe to the people I'm so proud to represent. I accept that, and I'm here to make it clear I accept the consequences."

On Tuesday Dastyari apologised for the first time after it emerged Chinese company Top Education Institute paid his personal travel debt of $1670.

The senator was under pressure to address the payment after he made public comments about the South China Sea, which were against Labor's position.

Fairfax: Wolter Peeters
Senator Dastyari leaves after announcing his resignation. He took no questions.

Senior Coalition MPs including Christopher Pyne, Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce have been calling for the Labor Senator's resignation for days, calling Shorten weak for not sacking Dastyari.

On Wednesday night Shorten released a statement which said Dastyari "made a mistake and now he's paying a heavy price".

"Sam is a young bloke with a bright future ahead of him. He has a lot to offer Labor and Australia," Mr Shorten said.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said on Wednesday night Shorten should have sacked Dastyari days ago.

"Who would have thought that Sam Dastyari had higher standards than Bill Shorten," Morrison told The 7:30 Report.

"Bill Shorten continued to defend him and Dastyari took the decision. So Sam has taken that decision today and Bill Shorten is nowhere to be seen. I think that's disappointing."

Earlier this week Shorten had given Dastyari a dressing down but the Labor leader was willing to give the "junior minister" a second chance. However, Shorten accepted Dastyari's resignation on Wednesday.

Dastyari said he will continue to "serve with pride" as a NSW Labor Senator.

"I look forward to serving a Labor Party government in the near future in whatever capacity I can," the 33-year-old told reporters.

Dastyari has only been a senator for the past three years and was recently promoted to the Opposition's front bench.

Dastyari made headlines in July when he offered Senator Pauline Hanson a Halal Snack Pack. Since his resignation the hashtag #putoutyourHSPs has been trending.

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