Motions- Dastyari, Senator Sam


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (12:59): I'm always uncomfortable when these issues involving individual senators are raised. I know it often happens. There have been two instances in the last few months where the Labor Party have personally attacked individual ministers. I might say that the attacks have gone absolutely nowhere, but I'm always uncomfortable when this chamber is used in that way. I think Senator Dastyari, in fairness, should be given the opportunity to answer the allegations made in the Fairfax press. He had an opportunity this morning, Mr President, but he talked about everything except for the serious allegations that have been made. Now, I personally am not an insider—I really don't know whether the allegations are true or not; I can only go on what I read in the newspapers. I thought that Senator Dastyari, when he got to his feet this morning, was going to explain all of the quite serious allegations, if they are true. I don't know if they're true, but the journalist is apparently prepared to face defamation action if they're not true, so I assume that they are.

I thought Senator Dastyari this morning might take the opportunity to tell us exactly what it was and why and try to assure us that there were no breaches, but he didn't mention that. He went to the basest of excuses, involving his children and confecting some sadness, when we know that Senator Dastyari actually puts on his own social media videos of his children talking about political matters like banking royal commissions. He didn't address the allegations that have been made. That's fair enough.

I then thought his leader, Senator Wong, who had quite a long time to then defend and explain the situation, might say something that could explain to the chamber Senator Dastyari's activities and actions. But, no: Senator Wong spent almost 20 minutes talking about everything else except the allegations. It clearly seems to me that the Labor Party leadership in this chamber have lost confidence in Senator Dastyari as well. Then there's Senator Carr, who spent another 20 minutes supposedly in defence of Senator Dastyari, but he said nothing about that issue. He raised every other issue, every red herring he could raise, but didn't address the issues that are before the public at the present time.

Senator Dastyari, I have to say, had the opportunity but didn't do it himself. He may have assumed, as I assumed, that Senator Wong or Senator Carr would then come forward to explain exactly what the facts are, how it all happened and what the purpose was. But, no: two of the senior members of the Labor Party, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and Senator Carr, spent 20 minutes saying absolutely nothing. That, to me, as I said earlier today, is a very curious state of affairs. It seems to me that even the Labor Party are concerned about what has happened. The leader in the Senate and Senator Carr were not prepared to enter into a full-scale defence of, or a vote of confidence in, Senator Dastyari.

So we're left in the position where a colleague of ours in this chamber has had some very serious allegations made about him. I don't know whether they're true or not, but I think that Senator Dastyari should be given the opportunity of addressing the serious issues in the public area at the present time. To do anything else would be a denial of what I would assume anyone's civil and public political rights might be—to be able to answer these questions. I don't know whether Senator Dastyari will have another opportunity in the debate today or the debate next week, but it is in the public's attention at the moment. I think, in fairness, we should allow Senator Dastyari to make his statement. The motion moved by Senator Brandis clearly gives him the opportunity and identifies what needs to be said, and we would all be better off with that. (Time expired)

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