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Dastyari must consider future, say Labor MPs

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Two Labor frontbenchers believe embattled Senator Sam Dastyari must consider whether he can stay in parliament, despite his denial of new revelations about his alleged interventions on behalf of Chinese interests.

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Linda Burney – who, like Dastyari, comes from NSW – says the party’s leader took decisive action in sacking the senator from parliamentary leadership positions.

“In relation to the continued role of Sam within the parliament, that is a matter I think very much for Sam,” she told Sky News today.

“Sam Dastyari, I’m sure is thinking very deeply about his role within the party.”

Her colleague Catherine King says Bill Shorten has made it clear the senator’s political career “is in essence, going nowhere”.

“I think that really Sam needs to reflect upon his position,” she told reporters in Melbourne.

Fairfax Media on Monday reported three sources as saying Dastyari tried to stop deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek from meeting academic Joseph Cheng Yu-shek during a visit to Hong Kong in January 2015.

But a spokesman for Dastyari has rejected the claims as “complete rubbish”.

A spokesman for Plibersek said her “itinerary in Hong Kong, including a meeting with a prominent pro-democracy activist, went ahead precisely as scheduled – I think that speaks for itself”.

“Ms Plibersek doesn’t canvass conversations colleagues may or may not have had with her or her office,” he said.

Burney said Plibersek was one of the most principled politicians in federal parliament.

Fairfax said Dastyari was in China at the time on a trip paid for by an organisation controlled by Communist Party-aligned businessman Huang Xiangmo, who has donated to both Labor and the Coalition.

The government has asked the Senate’s privileges committee to investigate Dastyari’s conduct after it was revealed he tipped off Huang that his phone was probably being tapped by Australian agencies.

Junior minister Angus Taylor said the newest allegations were extremely serious and added to the growing picture of how Dastyari had tried to further the interests of the Chinese government.

“This behaviour is absolutely unacceptable,” he told Sky News.

“If we were back in the Cold War era, he wouldn’t have survived this … (with) his parliamentary career.”

Former prime minister Tony Abbott predicts Dastyari will resign from the Labor Party on Sunday after the Bennelong by-election.

“Insiders in the Labor Party have given up on him. They are doing a series of inside jobs on him,” he told 2GB radio.

– AAP

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