MUNGO MacCALLUM. Malcolm Turnbull and Sam Dastyari.

There is an old science fiction story about a totalitarian state which regularly paraded dissidents before a packed arena bent on retribution and punishment.  

Led by a professional hate master, the crowd was encouraged to take their anger and resentment to a hysterical level, until the force and heat of their hatred actually caused the victim to catch fire and be burned to death, to the cathartic delight of the mob.

Now obviously Malcolm Turnbull is hardly a full time hate master; the lawyer-banker is far too suave and supercilious for the role. But having said that, it is just as well Sam Dastyari is fireproof. As a war lord of the New South Wales right, and its chief bagman, he has had to be.

But the problem is that while the miscreant senator may not be flammable, he, like asbestos, can still be potentially lethal to those around him. Which is why Bill Shorten, who is of the real target of the prime minister’s vehemence, is in serious trouble from his long association while consorting with one of his main men.

Shorten has reluctantly demoted Dastyari – twice. But of course that it is not enough for Turnbull, who wants him expunged from the parliament, if not the nation. This, is simply not in Shorten’s power, even if he was inclined to try – which he does not.

Dastyari was elected by the people, and cannot be removed except as a result of a long and tortuous process in which he would have to be shown to be guilty of very serious offences. The government is now planning to widen its authoritarian net to possibly include any future malefactors, but the legislation will not be retrospective and may, in any case, be insufficient for a successful prosecution.

So for the moment Dastyari can hang on for at least the end of his parliamentary term. Shorten could try and persuade the Labor Party’s executive to expel him from its ranks, but is unwilling to take such a drastic step – the consequences would be unpredictable, but potentially catastrophic. And Dastyari shows no signs of resigning on his own accord – from anything. So Shorten will have to wear the albatross around his neck until it eventually drops off, and Turnbull is determined to keep it hanging there, getting smellier and smellier, for as long as possible.

Indeed, despite all the bluster and ranting, it is not in Turnbull’s interest to see Dastyari smoulder away into a pile of ashes: the scandal over his association with a Chinese benefactor linked to Beijing is a rare and welcome pre-Christmas gift to be cherished and protected.

Turnbull can celebrate the totally foreseen win in New England, and, outrageously, even claim some of the credit for it; he can cheer that Newspoll has finally edged forward, and that the numbers foretell a crushing defeat rather than a complete wipeout. But his party room wanted to see claret flow – bring back the biff! And Turnbull, given the easiest of targets, is happy to try and oblige. When do you kick a man? When he’s down.

Sam Dastyari is well and truly down, but the real bonus would be if he tried to get up again. It is not time to bring him to ignition point just yet – there is much more hate to be unleashed until the final conflagration.


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5 Responses to MUNGO MacCALLUM. Malcolm Turnbull and Sam Dastyari.

  1. Jim KABLE says:

    But the cosiness of former LNP Minister ROBB with his Chinese employer from the day before he resigned from the National Parliament means nothing, apparently. Nor does the cosiness of Malcolm with his National Party mate Barnaby (whose “family-values” renunciation – his Weinstein-like/Bill Clinton-like moves on his staffer – would have lost him his re-election had the media been able to find him as he skedaddled from one little country pub to another up till the election day) which also merits some far closer scrutiny and expressions of distaste for the lack of ethics both have shown!.

  2. Philip Bond says:

    I suggest, Malcolm’s Dastyari attacks are to divert attention from the horrendous abuses overseen by der Führer of the incoming Department of Home Affairs peter dutton.

  3. Robyn Abell says:

    Joyce did mutter something the other day in parliament about being separated. I wondered about that….. Robb has been indignantly trying to defend himself; don’t think he has convinced anyone. I doubt Dastyari will last because Shorten will not want that stench around his neck much longer. Of course, the NSW and Victorian Right are slogging it out. Dastyari may have “been elected by the people”, but that was only because the ALP gave him a winnable spot on the Senate ticket. That hath been given can also be taken away. Shorten usually gets his way; I think you underestimate him.

  4. Marilyn says:

    The problem is China is not our enemy. Now if there was a cover up of massive proportions of say stealing $300 million from the starving Iraqis and giving it to Saddam Hussein many heads would have to roll wouldn’t they? Or if you devised an anti-refugee program that is criminal or sacked the entire city of Fallujah in a massive war crime you would not be allowed in the senate, right?

    This racist hysteria by Truffles is to be expected but it’s completely ridiculous.

  5. John CARMODY says:

    Many people will, doubtless, consider Senator Dastyari both a fool and a knave. And it’s true that his follies have been a gift to the Government (tough a little less playing politics and a little more reasoned analysis analysis of those “follies”, beyond such vacuous slogans as “betraying Australias’s interests” would be useful). However, I’d take a different tack from Mr MacCallum. Yes, it is up to a point true that Turnbull wants Dastyari “expunged from the parliament, if not the nation” — though not too soon, because that would take him away as a weapon against Shorten. But I would suggest that, whatever might be true for the “long term”, Shorten isn’t the important target at present. All of the Government’s current bluster is, surely, aimed at the substantial expatriate Chinese population in the electorate of Bennelong. They won’t be admirers of the Beijing regime and the Government wants to make them believe that the ALP are “friends” with that regime (for all that the Government — and such of its friends as the lavishly-pain lobbyist, Andrew Robb — want to keep doing business with Beijing, so the ALP should not get their votes next Saturday.
    So what it short-term political advantage might damage long-term economic and geopolitical interactions: our politicians aren’t renowned for strategic thinking. For them, it’s better to take care of tomorrow and hope that next week (with its problems) never comes seems to be their modus operandi.

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