Monday, October 15, 2018
Business

Dastyari under fire for continuing to pocket salary after announcing resignation

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has levelled fresh criticism at Sam Dastyari for continuing to pocket his parliamentary income despite announcing his resignation.

Key points:

  • Senator Sam Dastyari has not confirmed when he will stop collecting his parliamentary pay
  • The government is demanding he officially resign immediately
  • Labor says he still has outstanding work to complete

Senator Dastyari revealed yesterday that he was quitting the Upper House over his links with China, but the New South Wales powerbroker has not provided any clarity about his official departure date.

The wording of his statement yesterday was unclear, only confirming he would "not return to the Senate in 2018".

The basic wage for senators is $199,040 a year, handing him at least $30,000 if he does not make his resignation official until the New South Wales Parliament resumes in February and endorses his replacement.

Mr Turnbull has called on the outgoing senator to make his resignation official now, and relinquish any claim to further Commonwealth funds.

"Sam Dastyari should get out of the Senate right now," he said.

"He hasn't resigned yet.

"He's still taking money from the taxpayers of the country that he put second."

Labor defends Dastyari's delay

But Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Senator Dastyari should be given time to deal with electorate issues and organise his office and his staff.

"What I expect Senator Dastyari will do is that sooner rather than later he will wrap up his matters," he said.

"But let's be clear, there is electorate work, you can't just leave punters in the lurch."

Mr Shorten highlighted a number of cases where Liberal senators left a lag between announcing their exit and officially leaving.

Former Coalition Senator Brett Mason stayed on for 23 days, Michael Ronaldson for 73 days and Chris Back for 46 days.

Mr Shorten said it was also "sensible" to allow Senator Dastyari to give his staff appropriate notice.

Mr Turnbull called on the Opposition Leader to intervene and force Senator Dastyari to exit straight away.

"Sam Dastyari has behaved shockingly but it is Bill Shorten who wants to be prime minister," he said.

"He wants to have my job. If you want to be prime minister you've got to show that you always put Australia first.

"Shorten has not done that."

In delivering his resignation statement yesterday, Senator Dastyari said he had decided to stand down to "spare the party any further distraction", but he also defended his actions as a senator.

"Reflecting on the events which led to my decision, I leave knowing that I have always honoured my parliamentary oath, I have always acted with integrity, and I remain a loyal, patriotic Australian," he said.

China position undoes Dastyari

For more than a year the Government has been calling for Senator Dastyari to quit his Senate post over his dealings with Chinese businessman and political donor Huang Xiangmo.

The senator originally stepped down from the Labor frontbench when it emerged he had allowed the donor to pay a legal bill on his behalf.

Critics strengthened their attacks last month when Fairfax reported Senator Dastyari warned Mr Huang that his phone was probably being tapped by US agencies.

Explosive leaked audio has also shown the senator went against Labor policy and defended China's stance on the South China Sea at a media event standing side by side with Mr Huang.

Further clouding his reputation was another Fairfax report that Senator Dastyari tried to convince deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek not to meet a Chinese political activist.

Today Ms Plibersek said her colleague had made mistakes.

"I think Sam Dastyari has paid a very high price for some poor judgement," she said.

"I really think that hounding a guy who's already said he's leaving is a bit rich."

Original Article

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