The Fall of Sam Dastyari: The Allures of Foreign Influence

Gazing at the politics of a vassal state is interesting in one acute, and jarring sense.  Voices of presumed independence are often bought; political opinions that seem well informed are, in fact, ventriloquised.  The origin is always elsewhere.

Australia’s politicians represent this more starkly than most.  Supposedly representatives of the people who elect them, they become the servants of different masters once in office.  Whether it is the large party machines that often back them, drawing and quartering their individuality, or a powerful lobby that threatens and cajoles them, the Australian politician is at the mercy of various earthly and often nasty powers.  The one judge of the matter, the public, is left out.

The fall of Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, who had become a distraction of such proportion as to drive opposition leader Bill Shorten potty, constitutes the first conspicuous casualty of this dilemma: that of the bought politician. But it all seemed so convenient, and easy.

“Today, after much reflection,” concluded Dastyari, “I’ve decided that the best service I can render to the federal parliamentary Labor Party is not to return to the Senate in 2018.”  His “Labor values” had told him like a high gospel power that his continued presence in the party room had detracted “from the pursuit of Labor’s mission”.

Dastyari had certainly bumbled and bungled his way into a corner so narrow that no tomfoolery could extricate him. …

Read more