Sam Dastyari is a former Australian politician and member of the Australian Labor Party who served as a Senator for New South Wales from 2013. In 2017 Mr. Dastyari resigned from the Senate after a series of scandals, notably his relationship with Chinese property developer Huang Xiangmo.
Mr. Dastyari joined the Australian Labor Party at the age of 16 with the 1999 referendum on Australia becoming a republic being the key issue which attracted him to politics. He became the President of Young Labor only 6 years later and was “so caught up in the movement and student politics” that he paused his university studies. In 2010 Mr. Dastyari became NSW Labor’s General Secretary. In August of 2013 the Parliament of New South Wales appointed Mr. Dastyari to the Senate, replacing the vacated seat of Matt Thistlethwaite who had resigned.
Chinese Influence Scandals
In January of 2014 Mr. Dastyari travelled to Beijing at the expense of the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs. During this trip he also visited the head offices of both the Chinese telecommunications giant, Huawei, and Huang Xianmo’s Yuhu Group.
In 2015 Yuhu Group also paid for Mr. Dastyari’s legal costs after he had been sued by an advertising agency in regards to his conduct during his time as NSW Labor Secretary. In January of 2016 he travelled again to Beijing, this time paid for by the International Communist Party of China.
In August of 2016 it was reported that Mr. Dastyari had overspent his travel budget by roughly $1700. A declaration dated to October 2015 stated that this overspend was paid by Top Education Institute, a Chinese private education provider based in Sydney. The institute was run by Minshen Zhu who has been described as wielding “considerable clout at home as a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the Communist Party's people's forum.”
In September of 2016 Mr. Dastyari resigned from Labor’s frontbench as manager of opposition business in the senate and spokesman for consumer affairs and moved to the backbench. After a video surfaced showing Mr. Dastyari publicly defending China’s South China Sea policy, in defiance of Labor Party Policy, at a conference alongside Mr. Huang, then-Labor Leader, Bill Shorten, dismissed him from the Senate.