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More Chinese trouble for Dastyari after "phone-tap" warning


The Turnbull government is demanding Labor senator Sam Dastyari come clean on his discussions with a Chinese Communist Party-linked political donor.

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The senator is under fire over reports he told Huang Xiangmo they should leave their phones inside when they met at the businessman’s Sydney mansion in October last year.

The reported exchange took place during a face-to-face meeting, just weeks after Dastyari resigned from the frontbench over his dealings with Huang.

But the senator insists he never received or passed on classified security information.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop wants him to reveal every discussion he’s had with the Chinese benefactor.

“If (the allegations) are accurate they will show that Senator Dastyari was acting against Australia’s national interest, against Australia’s national security concerns,” she told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

“That would make his position as a senator untenable.”

Attorney-General George Brandis questioned Dastyari’s loyalty, saying the incident was a test for Labor leader Bill Shorten.

“Why would anyone acting in good faith warn a benefactor to have a conversation in circumstances that are only consistent with engaging in counter-surveillance activity,” he told reporters.

“Why would an innocent person do that? What was he trying to hide?”

Brandis will be pursuing answers in the upper house today.

Dastyari believed his phone was being tapped by government agencies, including the US government, Fairfax Media said.

The high-profile senator’s earlier parliamentary fall from grace followed revelations he’d allowed Huang to pay a personal debt and reportedly took a pro-China stance on the South China Sea – at odds with Labor’s position.

Dastyari denies any wrongdoing.

“After the events of last year, I spoke to Mr Huang to tell him that I did not think it was appropriate that we have future contact,” he said in a statement.

“I thought it was a matter of common courtesy to say this face-to-face.”

Dastyari insisted he has never been briefed by any security agency or received any classified information.

“I reject any assertion that I did anything other than put to Mr Huang gossip being spread by journalists.”


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