The Australian Labor Party’s self-righteous ‘attack dog, Senator Sam Dastyari, has embarrassed Opposition leader Bill Shorten by admitting that he asked a Chinese state company to pay a $1600 travel bill while also making comments on the South China Sea dispute that conflict with both Government and Opposition policy. Dastyari said Australia should stop challenging China’s claims.
This has earned him the nomenclature of ‘China’s Poster Kid” in the Australian Financial Review, which reported the Communist Party’s newspaper, Peoples Daily, had listed Dastyari as one of China’s key supporters after a landmark ruling repudiating Beijing’s claim over most of the South China Sea. Dastyari was the only Australian in the list, which included politicians from Russia. Ecuador, Columbia and Nepal.
Bastyari, a rising star in the Labor party and recently promoted to the front bench, which spent the first three days leading his party in disruptive tactics designed to frustrate a government with a majority of only one. In this Shorten has broken a promise he made, reported in Australian Strategies, to cooperate with the government in measures to reduce the deficit.
A former Labor prime minister has been in better form. Paul Keating, in conversation with Professor Bob Carr of the Australia-China Relations, suggested a better way of dealing with Australia’s role in US-Chinese rivalry over the South China Sea, Keating proposed what he termed “elastic diplomacy”. “Australia has to respond with a nuanced insight into its real place in the world”, he said.
And the problem? Keating replied, “While China sees the development of a multi-polar world, the United States, with its mission to propagate Jefferson values, is not psychologically equipped to handle the takeover of China as the world’s leading power, as Happened between Britain and the US in the 19th Century”.