Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has called for Labor senator Sam Dastyari to quit Parliament over new revelations about his dealings with China.
- Tapes show Sam Dastyari told Chinese media Australia should observe Chinese history in respecting Chinese land claims on South China Sea
- Earlier revelations allege he warned a wealthy Chinese businessman his phone most likely being bugged
- Julie Bishop calls for resignation, PM questioned senator's loyalties
A tape has emerged that shows Senator Dastyari gave a detailed defence of China's policy in the South China Sea last year, in defiance of official ALP policy.
The recording shows Senator Dastyari's remarks to Chinese media last year were stronger than he previously had portrayed them.
Standing next to a wealthy Chinese businessman and ALP donor, Senator Dastyari backed the Chinese Government's refusal to abide by international court rulings on the South China Sea, stating that: "The Chinese integrity of its borders is a matter for China".
Senator Dastyari's remarks, delivered on June 17 last year, during the federal election campaign, flatly contradicted those made by fellow Labor senator and Defence spokesman Stephen Conroy just one day earlier.
Senator Dastyari quit the Labor frontbench last year, in part because reports emerged in Chinese media that he had contradicted ALP policy.
He also admitted at the time that Chinese businessman Huang Xiangmo paid a legal bill for him.
Ms Bishop said the tape showed that Senator Dastyari contradicted the Labor Party's position on the South China Sea at the urging of an overseas benefactor.
She said his position as a senator was untenable and that Mr Shorten must dump him from his job as deputy Senate whip.
Attorney-General George Brandis told Lateline Senator Dastyari has many questions to answer about the relationship with the Chinese donor.
"He's a serial offender when it comes to placing himself evidently under the influence of the Chinese Government."
Dastyari says he already paid the price for 'wrong' comments
Senator Dastyari told the ABC he had already acknowledged the comments he made at the Chinese media conference were wrong and not consistent with ALP policy, but that he had paid the price for this error.
"In September last year, I resigned from the ALP front bench, over the comments I made at a June 17, 2016 press conference which were wrong and not consistent with ALP policy," he said.
"I have acknowledged this a number of times previously. I should not have made these comments at the press conference. I have acknowledged this, and I paid a price for this error."
Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said the tape involved the issue that Senator Dastyari lost his frontbench job over last year.
"A tape of the very event that caused him to pay the price of losing his position on the executive of the Labor Party," he said.
Mr Dreyfus said he would listen to the tape again and look into the matter and Senator Dastyari would "get an opportunity to explain himself".
He would not be drawn on whether he believed the recording exposed that Senator Dastytari had mischaracterised the way he spoke about China and the South China Sea last year.
Labor leader Bill Shorten has made no comment on the recording or Ms Bishop's demands for Senator Dastyari to quit.
But senior sources within the Labor Party are concerned at the role being played by the intelligence agencies and whether there is political interference by security agencies.
Labor figures are privately questioning whether the Government is using information from intelligence agencies to attack their political opponents.
PM questioned Dastyari's loyalties after earlier revelations
Earlier today Fairfax media reported on another meeting between Senator Dastyari and Mr Huang weeks after the senator had to quit the shadow ministry, in which he reportedly warned the businessman his phone was most likely being bugged by intelligence agencies.
In a statement issued this morning, Senator Dastyari said he never received a brief from any security agency or any classified information about any matter.
Senator Dastyari later told the ABC his last contact with Mr Huang was 14 months ago and that he had not spoken to him since.
In response to this morning's revelations, the Prime Minister has already questioned the Labor MP's loyalty to Australia, asking "whose side" Senator Dastyari is on.
"Here he is, an Australian senator who has gone to a meeting with a foreign national with close links to a foreign government and advises that foreign national Mr Huang to put their phones inside to avoid the possibility of surveillance," Mr Turnbull said.
"Why is he giving counter-surveillance advice to Mr Huang? Why is he doing that?"
The PM called it a very serious issue of national security.
"Whose side is Sam on? Not Australia's it would seem," Mr Turnbull said.
Senator Dastyari responded to Mr Turnbull's comments saying it was "hurtful" to suggest he was not a loyal Australian.
"I expect Turnbull and the Liberals to smear me, but for he and his colleagues to suggest that I am not a true or loyal Australian is incredibly hurtful — and hurtful to all overseas-born Australians," he said.
"I might've been born overseas, but I'm as Australian as he is."