Senator Sam Dastyari quit the Senate amid intense scrutiny of his interactions with a Chinese businessman and political donor. Picture: AAP Image/Ben Rushton
Senator Sam Dastyari quit the Senate amid intense scrutiny of his interactions with a Chinese businessman and political donor. Picture: AAP Image/Ben Rushton

Disgraced Dastyari to turn his shame into a TV show

BABY-FACED Labor powerbroker Sam Dastyari had a secret plan to become premier of NSW before he was spectacularly brought down by his ties to shady Chinese figures.

Dastyari has for the first time revealed his raw anguish at being stripped of his once unstoppable political career in an interview with Stellar magazine and admitted he should never have let the questionable practices of Sussex Street follow him into the Australian Senate.

SUBSCRIBERS: 'I've done every drug under the sun': Sam Dastyari opens up on his demons

The now-34-year-old, who was the youngest ever general secretary of NSW Labor and still the youngest member of the Labor caucus when he was forced to resign from parliament late last year, said he continued to behave like a party bagman when he should have behaved more like a senator.'

"I think my mistake is that I went into parliament and kept behaving like the general secretary of the Labor Party, running Sussex Street, and that meant party donors, and managing relationships with party donors," he said.

Sam Dastyari appears as Stellar's cover star today. Stellar 12 August, Sam Dastyari - photography by Daniel Nadel
Sam Dastyari appears as Stellar's cover star today. Stellar 12 August, Sam Dastyari - photography by Daniel Nadel

"And that was an incredibly stupid thing to be doing. I should have walked away.

"I should have cut off all those links. You cannot be a parliamentarian and be behaving like the back door party operator that I was before that."

Dastyari - whose nickname is "Dasher" because of his ability to get things done quickly - said he was hooked on the power and influence he got from being a fixer.

"Because of the traction I think and the power that gave me within the party, I never made that break," he said.

"And I've paid an incredibly high price for it."

After already coming under fire for allowing a Chinese businessman to pay some of his travel costs and contradicting ALP policy on the South China Sea, the young Labor powerbroker and campaign guru was eventually cut loose by Bill Shorten after it emerged he had inadvertently tipped off that Chinese businessman that he was under surveillance by security agencies - something Dastyari says he did inadvertently when he visited him to break off ties.

Pushed on why even as a party official he had cultivated such questionable relationships, Dastyari said it was simply a fact of political life.

Sam Dastyari on today’s Stellar's cover. Stellar 12 August, Sam Dastyari - photography by Daniel Nadel
Sam Dastyari on today’s Stellar's cover. Stellar 12 August, Sam Dastyari - photography by Daniel Nadel

"You'd be naive to think party machines aren't (run like that)," he said.

"They just are. And I think that's the fundamental thing. The question I have to ask myself is how do you not stop and see these things, these red lights, how do you just run through them?

"Maybe, part of it was probably the culture I was brought up in, part of it was inexperience, part of it was naivety."

Related: Joe Hildebrand in Stellar Magazine: 'The printer is a device that has broken the spirit of every suburban man'

But the biggest bombshell is that his ambition was not in federal politics at all but to become premier of NSW - a secret that he only revealed to his closest political confidants.

"The one job I wanted in my life, if I could ever have had one job, was to be premier of NSW," he said.

"And I would have left the Senate in a heartbeat for that. That was the one goal."

Given Dastyari's influence within NSW Labor, it is all but certain that had he not been brought undone by his own hubris he would have achieved that goal and the state would one day have had a Premier Dastyari.

Instead he now has to contemplate what to do with the rest of his life now that all his political ambitions have been crushed before the age of 35.

"To know that's over - and it is," he stresses, "and to have failed miserably at the one thing I set my life to doing professionally, by the time I'm 34, leaves you in this weird place where you have to say: 'OK, well what do I do for the next 50 years of my life?'"

Dastyari said this put him in an incredibly dark place and led him to contemplate the nature of disgrace itself.

Dastyari's new TV show Disgrace! debuts next Sunday on Channel 10.


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