When Herschelle Gibbs dropped Steve Waugh in the 1999 Cricket World Cup one of the most misquoted quotes was born. It’s commonly understood that Waugh said, ‘How does it feel to have just dropped the World Cup?’ But, according to the man himself, the truth is it was more like, ‘That’s going to cost your team today, Hersch’.
Regardless of what particular version you go with, surely, this time, Dasher has done his dash – at least with the Australian voting public. As David Flint has recently argued in his excellent article, “He would be disqualified under section 44 of the Constitution if he were to be shown to be “under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power’’, that is the Peoples Republic of China.”
The questions that we’re left with is, “What does it take to be sacked from the Labor Party, let alone the Senate?” And just how great an impact will this have on people’s confidence in Bill Shorten to lead our country? Just how great an impact will this one dropped catch make upon the whole team?
The recent events surrounding the resignation of Senator Sam Dastyari as the opposition’s deputy whip, are a perfect example as to why our citizenship laws for members of parliament are in place. Because what has become patently clear is that Dastyari’s primary allegiance is now under a cloud. Is he representing Australia exclusively or is he acting as a proxy for China?
Dastyari tried to excuse what many people are now perceiving as an act of sedition, or treason, saying, “I have never passed on classified information and I’ve never been in the possession of any… A recent audio recording shocked me, as it did not match my recollection of events.” How can the parliament be certain that he has never passed on classified information? This is now the second time that “Dasher” has been caught out not being able to accurately recollect events. As George Brandis has rightly stated:
This time it is not enough. How absurd to reflect that in this Senate over recent months we have seen one senator after another forced to resign from the Senate because of section 44 of the Constitution in circumstances which have reflected no discredit on any single one of them because for a technical reason unbeknown to them they were deemed to owe allegiance to or acknowledgment to a foreign sovereign…
And meanwhile sitting in the Senate in a senior position in the Labor Party, there sat Senator Dastyari who evidently by his conduct was actually under a foreign influence. But he kept quiet, he stayed mum, he maintained his position until his position was exposed by the media in the last 24 hours or so and now he has been forced to resign again. This is not good enough.
How has a situation like this occurred? As many of us have had the misfortune to experience in NSW until 2011, Dastyari is a product of the Labor Party machine – where ethics and integrity are sacrificed on the altar of political power and expediency. Cory Bernardi summed it up succinctly like this:
I feel I need to make a contribution to this debate because I belled the cat about Senator Dastyari asking for his personal over expense for his travel bills of some $1,200 or $1,800 to be paid for by a donor linked to the Chinese Communist Party. It was disclosed in his register of interest, as if it were some kind of virtue.
It was not just an oversight; it was an indication of the NSW Labor Party culture of getting other people to pick up the tab that has crept into this place. It is a cancer, a cancer that destroyed the NSW government – which was the most corrupt government in my memory – and which saw Kristina Keneally become the puppet Premier to mop up the mess left by the corruption of the NSW Labor mob. It was as crooked as it gets; they know that. And that corruption, that stench, has crept its way into this chamber and has manifested itself in Senator Dastyari.
Brandis is correct then when he says, “What is a man doing in the Australian Parliament, let alone occupying a senior and influential position in the alternative government, if he is prepared to thwart what he believed to be an investigation by the Australian intelligence agencies, and to advise the man who he thought to be the subject of that investigation, how to thwart that investigation?”
The fact that the Australian parliament in general, and Bill Shorten in particular, has been so lenient upon Dastyari though highlights a much greater issue. And that is, we are quickly losing all sense of nationhood. The problem is that the Left cannot distinguish between healthy nationalism and the Nazis. So, when someone undermines, or even actively plots, against their own country they cannot call it out because they feel like they are betraying their own leftist cause. Just take the comments of Chis Bowen, Labor’s treasury spokesman and a factional ally of Senator Dastyari in Labor’s NSW Right, who has come to his defence saying:
The first principle is that Sam Dastyari is a loyal and patriotic Australian… there are national security implications here. Having ASIO’s methods and tactics trawled through the media, I think the government should be concerned about that. They appear unconcerned about that. They’re more concerned with political point scoring.
As Australia has become increasingly secularised, both sides of politics are prepared to tolerate and excuse levels of political indiscretion that we would never have put up with in the past. Like a ship casting off its moorings and leaving home port and familiar surroundings, we are setting off to another world that is increasingly strange and distant from all that we have known. Australia as a nation is rapidly abandoning its traditions and values which demanded character and probity in national life and affairs of state.
Ironically, at the beginning of the week, we witnessed the triumphalistic posturing of those who would seek to redefine one of the vital core institutions of our society. At the same time, there has been a staggering reluctance from both sides of parliament, but especially those on the Left, to ensure our ongoing civil and religious freedoms. Previously, Dastaryi’s actions would have been referred to ASIO and the Australian Federal Police. In this new age of ‘tolerance’ though, he merely receives a slap on the wrist from his leader, Bill Shorten.
As Malcolm Turnbull himself said in The Weekend Australian: “His [Bill Shorten’s] failure to do so means that he puts his factional survival, which depends apparently on Senator Dastyari, ahead of the national security of the country he wants to lead. It’s time for Bill Shorten to show that he’s really on Australia’s side and boot Dastyari out.”
Significantly, all the way throughout this article, as I typed in the name ‘Dastyari,’ the auto-correct on my computer kept on trying to adjust it to “Dastardly.” Co-incidence? Or has spell-check intuitively picked up on something that nearly all Australians now recognise as being somewhat apt? Because when it comes to political misjudgement and a lack of self-awareness, Dastyari is in a league all of his own.
Mark Powell is the Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield.
Cartoon: Ben R Davis.
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