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Thursday, 30 November 2017
Page: 9295

Senator DASTYARI (New South WalesDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (09:31): by leave—I rise to make a short statement. Let me begin at the outset by saying that I have never had a briefing by any Australian security agency, ever. I have never passed on classified information and I have never been in the possession of any. As I have repeatedly said, if I was ever given any security advice from any agency, I would follow it to the letter.

I want to be absolutely clear: I could not be a prouder Australian. My family was lucky enough to leave a war-torn Iran to start a new life in this amazing land. I find the inferences that I'm anything but a patriotic Australian deeply hurtful. Nonetheless, I am not without fault. In June last year I held a press conference where I made comments that were in breach of Labor Party policy. I have never denied this. The price I paid for that was high but appropriate. More recently, my characterisation of that press conference was called into question. A recent audio recording shocked me, as it did not match my recollection of events. I take responsibility for the subsequent mischaracterisation.

When a public official makes a statement that contradicts events, there are consequences. For me, the consequence was being called last night by Bill Shorten and being asked to resign from my position in the Labor Senate organisational leadership. With the indulgence of the Senate, I want to acknowledge my amazing wife and two daughters, who keep having to put up with the heightened spotlight. Hannah is now six and has to answer questions in the playground. That breaks the heart of any father.

Today we have the news of a royal commission into Australian banking, which is a victory for the many victims and those of us who have fought for justice. With the upcoming New England and Bennelong by-elections, I always intend to put the party first and do not want to be a distraction. I will continue to work as I always have done for the people of New South Wales.