Sam Dastyari has sparked anger after it was revealed he could continue to pocket his parliamentary salary for the coming weeks, despite announcing his resignation from the Senate.
Senator Dastyari made the announcement on Tuesday after revelations about his links to China.
He did not give specifics on when he would be replaced, only saying he would “not return to the Senate in 2018”.
Parliament is not due to return until February next year, so if Dastyari chose not to officially leave until then, he could continue to draw his salary – which the Sydney Morning Herald claims could total $20,000.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has hit out at him, reportedly telling reporters in Sydney he should “get out of the Senate right now and it is a mark of the weakness of Bill Shorten’s leadership that it took all of this time for Dastyari to foreshadow his resignation”.
He added: “He hasn’t resigned yet. He’s still taking money from the taxpayers of the country that he put second. He did not put Australia first.”
But Opposition Leader Bill Shorten argued Dastyari needed time to organise his office and staff, while pointing out that other MPs had taken lengthy periods to quit in the past.
“What I expect Senator Dastyari will do is that sooner rather than later he will wrap up his matters,” he said, according to the site.
“But let’s be clear, there is electorate work, you can’t just leave punters in the lurch. He’s resigning. He won’t be back in the Parliament.”
The PM called on Shorten to intervene and force the exit as soon as possible.
“Sam Dastyari has behaved shockingly but it is Bill Shorten who wants to be Prime Minister,” he reportedly said.
“He wants to have my job. If you want to be Prime Minister you’ve got to show that you always put Australia first… Shorten has not done that.”
Meanwhile, NSW Labor general secretary Kaila Murnain said the party would “begin the process of selecting for the Senate casual vacancy early next year. There are a number of administrative processes that have to be completed, which can’t be finalised prior to Christmas.”
It sparked debate on social media, as some users called it “despicable” and “outrageous”, while others claimed it was fair, with one writing: “*yawn* Everyone who works out a notice period when they resign gets paid. What a beat up.”
It comes after Dastyari announced his resignation from the Senate following a tumultuous week in Canberra.
Dastyari was under pressure to step down after revelations about his links to China. Fairfax media released a secret recording of the Senator backing Beijing’s South China Sea policy, in opposition to Labor’s stance on the issue; they later revealed he had warned a Chinese community leader that he may be under surveillance.
“I’ve decided that the best service I can render to the federal parliamentary Labor Party is to not return to the Senate in 2018,” he told reporters at a media conference in Sydney this week, the ABC reports.
“I’ve been guided by my Labor values, which tell me that I should leave if my ongoing presence detracts from the pursuit of Labor’s mission.
“It is evident to me we are at that point, so I will spare the party any further distraction.”
Dastyari said he was a patriotic Australian and would continue to serve Labor as a grassroots member.
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