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Monday 27 March 2017

Opinion

Sam And The Australian Constitution Don't Mix

Paul Zanetti Wednesday 7 September 2016



pic: Sam Dastyari, right, with parents and sister, shortly after arriving in Australia.


Slippery Sam Dastyari’s front bench resignation this evening is expected to be a temporary stint in the sin bin.

A deal will have been struck to firewall Bill Shorten from the engulfing flames. Given time, Sam is hoping to return to the front bench.

But can he ever return? Well, that depends on the memory span of the Australian electorate.

Bill and Sam are hoping today’s news will be tomorrow’s fish ’n’ chips wrapping, then destined forever to the trash bin.

But there’s this other thing - The Australian Constitution.

The one question Sam Dastyari could not answer at his train wreck press conference - why?

Why did he believe he could simply call up a Chinese businessman with direct links to the Communist Chinese government and expect a personal debt be settled?

He refused to answer that. There’s good reason.

To answer that question, Sam Dastyari would have to admit that he was being paid for obedience or adhereence to China’s interests. The facts show he was compromised. Cash for Comment. He adhered to a foreign power in return for money. 

Under such circumstances, Sam Dastyari’s political career is all but over, according to Section 44 (i.) of The Australian Constitution.

44. Any person who -

(i.) Is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power….

shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.


Looks like goodnight, Sam.

Some may say that’s a matter of legal interpretation, and parts of the law including the Constitution certainly are open to argument. A good mate who happens to be a QC specialising in Constitutional Law is fond of saying “it depends”.

The law is not so cut and dried. What may seem a good case can be unravelled by pulling on a thread of some little known Common Law ruling or other such technicality.

But certainly any law can be tested, and it would seem in the case of Sam Dastyari and Section 44 there’s a case to be made.

Sam Dastyari reminds me of Icarus, the tragic from Greek mythology who flew too close to the sun, then fell into the sea to his death. Hubris got the better of Icarus. Hubris and confidence got the better of Sam Dastyari.

Sam's parents were student activists during the overthrow of the American-backed Shah of Iran.

In 1979 the time was ripe for a revolution against the perceived puppet Shah.

It appears Sam’s parents were not Islamic fundamentalists, but more likely Communist members of the Tudeh (the masses) Party. The Tudeh Party of Iran was a nationalist movement of socialists who wanted the oil and other national assets to belong to the people.

The Tudeh Party was banned in 1982 by the Islamic Republic. Mass arrests ensued. In 1988 political prisoners of the party were executed.

Sam’s parents, Nasser and Ella fled to the northern Iranian town of Sari to keep a low profile. As arrests and executions swept through Iran, they decided to seek refuge in Australia.

Sam has admitted, “My parents were student radicals, or student activists, during the 1979 Islamic revolution. They were pro-democracy student organisers. When the revolution happened, Islamists seized control.

“Quite a few of my parents’ friends were executed for being political dissidents.

“They moved in ’79, after the revolution, to the town of Sari ... to keep a low profile. Then the Iran/Iraq war breaks out in around 1980.

"The real fear for dissidents in Iran during that period was that once the war was over, the focus of the regime was really going to turn inwards.

"It was going to be about hunting down and persecuting those dissidents who might still exist in their ranks.

“By about 1987 it became clear the war was coming to an end and my parents were concerned about what a post-war Iran was going to look like for them and began the process of migrating to Australia. We came out in January 1988.”

Sam’s communist roots, his political DNA can be traced back to his nationalist, socialist parents. Listening wide-eyed and open-eared to the tales of Nasser and Ella, young Sam was destined to join a socialist movement and political party in his adopted country.

Nothing wrong with that in a democracy.

But allowing himself to flirt with, then be seduced by a foreign Communist super power, then brazenly seeking a relationship of sponsorship and donations by a proxy of that super power compromising and betraying his party, betraying his constituents and his country is treasonous conduct.

If Sam Dastyari harbours secret hopes this will all blow over and he will some day inch his way back into the light of day, it will show he has learned nothing.

Worst case scenario is that could trigger a test of Section 44 of The Australian Constitution ensuring the public humiliation will be even more excruciating than it already is.