The ABC reports:
The Government is waging a personal campaign against Labor senator Sam Dastyari, raising a series of questions about his links to Beijing and pointing to a paper trail in his disclosure log which tracks a history of accepting Chinese money.
Most Government critics have stopped short of accusing Senator Dastyari of breaking any rules or laws, but they are suggesting the senator has been influenced by the payments in his comments on China.
Here’s a brief summary of what’s behind this political stoush.
This month Senator Dastyari altered his declaration of interests to include confirmation that he had secured “support for settlement of electorate staff travel budget overspend”.
The declaration says the payment was made by Top Education Institute, a company with links to China.
The Government says this is not a political donation, but instead shows Senator Dastyari calling on the company to pay off a debt incurred by his office.
In 2014, Senator Dastyari declared that Yuhu Group – a subsidiary of a state-linked operation based in China – helped settle a legal matter for him.
In the declaration filed on November 20, Senator Dastyari wrote “support for settlement of outstanding legal matter”.
It reportedly cost $40,000.
In the same year, Senator Dastyari revealed the Australia China Relations Institute paid to cater an afternoon tea for him.
Flights, accommodation and hospitality for a 15-day trip to China in 2014 were funded by the Australian Fellowship of China Guangdong Associations Incorporated. A nine-day trip in January this year was supported by the China Australian Guangdong Chamber of Commerce Incorporated.
Now the donations by themselves might not be an indication of wrong-doing.
But as also reported:
“The South China Sea is China’s own affairs, Australia should remain neutral and respect for China on this matter”.
This is contrary to the position of both the Australian Government and Opposition and strongly suggests the donations have influenced his position.