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Why Repaying Costs For Travel Is So Much Worse Than Accepting A Rolex Watch Or Two!

Ok, some of you are trying to draw a link between Sam Dastyari’s acceptance of a payment of $1670.82 from a Chinese businessman and the gift of several Rolex watches to a number of Liberal politicians and their wives when the Liberals were in Opposition.

For a start, it needs to be pointed out that the Liberals all thought that the watches were fakes and only worth between $300 to $500 dollars which means that no individual received anything like the value of Dastyari’s donation. Of course, I suspect that a lot of you lefties will be suggesting that when you add all the watches together that it far exceeds the $1670.82, but that overlooks the fact that because nobody knew how much the watches were actually worth, then any attempt to add them would have been ludicrous. Particularly – as it turns out – when they were so wrong about the estimated worth and that the total value of the watches would have been enough to buy a nice little apartment somewhere. (Maybe not in Sydney or Melbourne, but don’t try and suggest that there’s a housing affordability crisis because I said “apartment”!)

Abbott, Macfarlane, Robert, their wives and anyone else who received a watch immediately presumed that it a fake because -as a spokesman clearly explained at the time –
it wasn’t the gift, but “the way it was given”: they were taken out of a plastic bag and handed over, whereas usually genuine attempts to bribe politicians come in brown paper bags and aren’t taken out by the donor in public. We can perhaps put this down to a lack of understanding the Australian culture by the gentleman concerned.

Yep, once they’d decided the watches were fake, then it was perfectly ok to accept them. It’s no worse than say illegally downloading a movie or selling pirated CDs. And surely nobody could have a problem with that.

But when comparing it to recent events, there’s the big, big difference! You see, Dastyari received a personal “donation” whereas the Rolex watches were a “gift”. This might seem like a petty distinction. However, a gift is – as was explained back then – a “goodwill gesture”, while a ” personal donation” implies that there’s a possible expectation that the person is expected to do something in return.

Which is why it’s wrong to bring up the whole issue of political donations from overseas companies at this point. That just confuses the issue because if you hear that Dastyari may have been influenced by a personal donation, then you may think that parties would be also be influenced by the people who donate. But that’s just ridiculous. Particularly in the case of the Liberal Party.

The Liberal Party has a long history of wanting to take people’s money and give them nothing in return. You don’t even have to go back to Howard and Costello – just look at Joe Hockey and Scott Morrison’s approach to returning the Budget to surplus.

No, as property tycoon Huang Xiangmom (who’s donated more than a million to both major political parties in the past few years) said a couple of weeks ago:

“We need to learn… how to have a more efficient combination between political requests and political donations.”

So clearly he doesn’t feel that all that money has bought him enough influence.

Perhaps we should introduce a more transparent process where, for example a donation of $10,000 gets you one member voting the way you want on a particular bill, while a donation of $100,000 allows you to dictate his or her vote for an entire session of Parliament. And, if you agree to pay the MP’s salary then they’re yours for life. (Mm, this could even be a saving for the tax payer…)

However, a gift of Rolex watch – or several watches – gets you nothing. That’s just a gesture. Of goodwill. That’s just to make it absolutely clear that you expect nothing in return and it’s all ok and if you were expecting something in return… Well, you’d… um, pay their travel expenses.

Yep, that’s when it’s bad. That’s the only time it’s bad. And bringing up anything else right now is just confused the issue, ok?

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  1. babyjewels10

    They all make me sick. Australian politicians must be seen as such scroungers. Appeased by shiny things. Where’s the dignity? Where’s the integrity? Yuk to all of them.

  2. Stephen Brailey

    The stench of corruption, despite the best efforts of the corporate media, permeates our entire political process!

  3. keerti

    If it is corrupt for a polititian to accept money where there is an unwritten agreement that the said polititian will make some favourable comment or action, it seems to be logical that if a group of polititians give billions of dollars to businesses (as tax cuts) on the unwritten understanding that said businesses will create jobs, that this is also corrupt.

  4. mark delmege

    Dozens of Australian politicians get free trips to Israel.

  5. mark delmege

    Even the PM’s wife got a free trip.

  6. oldfart

    The most logical outcome is for publically funded elections at a federal and jurisdictional level thereby cutting out the need for donations all together, lobbyists, favours and gifts. Any parliamentarian accepting any gift or donation after that should be arrested and charged with corruption. The funding to be administered by the electoral commission.

    We are only catching a glimpse of why the big two don’t want a federal ICAC. I have often wondered as to how most of them leave politics as millionaires, after having received such appalling wages, super and allowances

  7. John

    Fortunately the foreign donations transparency question is not an issue for those of us with bank accounts in the Cayman Islands.

  8. Steve Laing -

    It matters not whether its Libs or Labor, or the relative size, it all stinks. I’m sad Sam has gone, though it was inevitable, and disappointed that Shorten didn’t sack him. That would have shown leadership and is an opportunity squandered to have taken the moral high ground. Joe Public will still be led to believe that Bill is beholden to factions and faceless men. It almost makes me think the Labor don’t actually want to really change the rules either – they just make a lot of noise fully understanding that with the Libs in charge, changes will never happen.

    I am therefore not in the least surprised that whilst Labor are so keen for a Royal Commission into banking, they don’t appear to support a Federal ICAC (which in many respects would be like a Royal Commission into the political classes…). I’m sure that advocating that before the election would have been enough to have given them enough extra votes to get them into power. But for some reason, they didn’t…

    But hey, as Bighead and Cornlegend are sure to tell us, nothing to see here folks, move right along…

  9. Aortic

    Old fart I have said it ad infinitum and ad nauseum, the only way to negate the pervasive and pernicious influence of lobbyists et al is to publicly fund elections. If we can afford millions for school chaplains and an utterly unrequired plebiscite, we can afford to do this. Can you imagine any party proposing this? Yeah right, Turnbull would give up his Cayman Island scam before they would agree to it.

  10. cornlegend

    I’ll stick with the “moving right along”….
    As I asked before
    Steve, what rule or Law DID Sam break ?
    This was all about “It’s not a good look” and “perceptions”
    So why did Sam make the decision he did.
    First, you had MSM carpet bombing their rags with anti Sam articles, on with 6 on one day.
    Then the Pickering/Hanson followers, after Sams decision claiming to have ridded us of a Muslim and Greens Tweeters claiming THEY had won a victory for truth justice and the Aussie way .
    Sams decision was simple
    As Sam said in his email,

    “The Labor Party owes me nothing and I owe the Labor Party everything. Bill Shorten and the team don’t deserve this distraction.”

    Now to appease some he stated
    “I fell short of the duty I owe to the people I’m so proud to represent. I accept that, and I’m here to make it clear I accept the consequences … It’s clear to me now that this has become a distraction.
    “I’m paying the price for that mistake.”
    All based on a perception and some vivid imaginations.
    Personally, I don’t think Sams decision will be bad for Labor, and could be a benefit .
    First, Sams going nowhere, just relieved of a burdensome Shadow Ministry.
    This free him up to do what he does best. get stuck in
    Second, Sam won’t be restricted in any way.
    His value as a campaigner, his ability as an attack dog, his close friendship with Bill, and his ability to deliver numbers will ensure a speedy return.
    Still, now that’s done and dusted, I would expect the same people writing articles and jumping up and down to now go after the others that didn’t meet the “good look” or perception” standards that Sam was held to.
    When do we see the “Rolex” saga or Di Natale’s exploitation of low paid workers hit the headlines ?

  11. Bighead1883

    Steve Laing – September 8, 2016 at 11:09 am
    But hey, as Bighead and Cornlegend are sure to tell us, nothing to see here folks, move right along…

    Chinese donation going to charity
    Labor Senator Sam Dastyari has agreed to donate funds to a charity after a Chinese donor paid for some of his costs associated with parliamentary travel to China last year.

    Criticism of Senator Sam Dastyari’s public 2015 declaration in the parliament’s register of MP interests that a Chinese host had donated $1670 towards his travel costs has come from numerous quarters.

    Senator Dastyari said, in a tweet, the original newspaper report was a “fair yarn”.

    So Steve here`s another story but hey it`s about LNP rorting so it probably doesn`t interest you

    It is time the Liberals took a long hard look at themselves
    If John Howard wants to comment on political funding, says shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus QC, he can begin with his own state Liberal Party and its extraordinary conduct hiding property developers’ donations by diverting funds through foundations.

    Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus QC today called on former prime minister John Howard to take a “long hard look” at his own NSW Liberal Party’s scandals associated with millions of dollars now being withheld by the NSW Electoral Commission.

    Oh by the way,the largest political donation ever given to a political party was given to Bob Brown`s Greens,remember?

  12. Bighead1883

    mark delmege September 8, 2016 at 10:07 am
    Dozens of Australian politicians get free trips to Israel.

    What you say is true and this is not only wrong and disgusting but criminal in a human rights sense
    Israel is an Occupying Genocidal Apartheid State

  13. Zathras

    I suppose there’s a difference between politicians accepting external donations for themselves or their party and helping themselves to whatever financial allowance rorts they can get away with while in office.

    However, the notion of a religious cult being paid taxpayers money for their private schools who then create a shelf company specifically to launder and channel back some of those dollars to a political party is somewhat more sinister, and despite that matter being raised in the Senate, the media chose to remain totally oblivious.

    A Federal ICAC sounds like a good idea but I suppose it would just embarrass the wrong people.

  14. Paul

    Enough with calling them gifts, donations etc. isn’t it time to start calling them what they are, bribes.

  15. z

    a campaign to get rid of Sam but keep the political donation system unchanged is shameful

  16. the Lion

    Of course then there is the problem that the Politicians took counterfeit watches, something which is a crime anyway so no excuse there either! As for rorts look out in the near future at former Federal Member and Former Northern Territory treasurer Dave Tollner the scuttlebutt going around is he has a new job with Tristar in Texas the same Tristar that he signed a huge coal mining deal that is already full of shady deals! As I said only scuttlebutt at this stage, but potentially a major scandal if it is true!

  17. mark delmege

    Yes Bighead true. But I get the impression that Sam’s file has been sitting in the ‘to do’ pile for some time appropriate as a diversion – like now – when there is so much shit that could be thrown at the Conservatives.

  18. Steve Laing -

    Bighead, Cornlegend – which is it to be? Is it Ok to take dodgy gifts or cash as long as you declare them, or not? Do you think it looks a bit suss, or is it probably all above board? Because you can’t have it both ways.

    Again, you create the false dichotomies because I suggest something that disagrees with your perspective on how the world works, and the general public perceive behaviour. I’ve stated on a number of occasions that one of the key reasons that I dislike the current system is that money is right at the centre of the election process, making it corrupting in the extreme. Those who donate get looked after, as well as those who bring the donations in – whether they can actually add any value to the electorate is less relevant.

    Here’s the thing boys, I expect what ever politicians I support to hold themselves up to a higher set of standards than any of these jokers, and due to the bias inherent in the media recognise that any progressive politicians need to be squeaky clean. If you can’t see that I’m not attacking Labor, I’m just expecting their politicians to actually adhere to the values that they proclaim, then you’re never going to understand why Labor keeps losing elections that they really should be winning.

  19. wam

    public funding is the least effective option. All problems disappear on release of diary at the end of each month’s work????

  20. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I like Paul’s idea,

    call all ‘donations’ and ‘gifts’ to the political parties, bribes.

    That way the LNP would not have been able to call for Dastayari’s scalp without having to explain why Abbott and Co received their ‘fake’ Rolex watches. As Ross correctly states, the accumulated value between even a couple of fake Rolex watches would surely come close to the $1,670 Dastayari wanted.

    Once it is established and/or perceived that both ways get advantages, they are perceived as detrimental to the public good, and thus are banned.

    All funding is to be publicly provided and equitable to all political parties and Independents.

  21. Kim Southwood

    Hahahahaha! You really believe they thought the watches were fakes… just ‘cos they said so??!! But I do agree that receiving a gift is subtly different to asking your host to foot the bill. I’m sorry, either way my mirth is raised, with a cynical undertone. Our trade missions have been based on ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ since trading began. The Imperial Age introduced the world to the lessons of Global Corruption 101. Today Globalisation is largely built on “Free” Trade Agreements which are essentially a free for all in how to secure your place in the global economic pecking order. Most countries have now earned Honours degrees in the ignoble, global art of clamouring up the economic ladder. Some individual players do it more gracefully than others.

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