Labor Senator Sam Dastyari fronts the media in Sydney, to answer questions about a $1670 personal bill paid by a company with links to the Chinese Government. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING
Labor Senator Sam Dastyari fronts the media in Sydney, to answer questions about a $1670 personal bill paid by a company with links to the Chinese Government. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING DEAN LEWINS-AAP

Snouts in the trough have no time to think

LABOR Senator Sam Dastyari's eventual mea culpa over money he solicited from Chinese interests to pay a personal travel bill was more about saving his political skin than a belated realisation he had done the wrong thing.

The instinct that made him think in the first place the approach was an appropriate thing for a politician to do is the problem. That's part of his character and integrity and questions Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's claim he still had much to offer.

Dastyari was clearly a rising political star, but like many before him, it was his actions rather than words that derailed him. The young Senator had been something of a media darling - available, passionate and a fierce advocate against big banks - but what had appeared a fresh face was just a younger version of more of the same.

You can't take the high moral ground if your own actions provide no foundation.

It has been suggested Dastyari made a mistake, that he's young, he's learned and can move on. He should move on, get out of politics and find a real job because what he did was no mistake.

His actions have exposed him.

The behaviour has been enabled by the environment in which he works where morality, ethics and probity have become ethereal.

Dastyari has distracted attention from the Federal Government's own problems and allowed Tony Abbott to appear as a white knight champion of a call long made here on the Sunshine Coast to restrict donations to individuals who can vote.

The NSW Liberal and Labor Parties have been compromised by the findings of Operation Spicer and subsequent ICAC investigation which has even-handedly recommended charges against Labor's Joe Tripodi and former Liberal Minister Chris Hartcher.

A number of MPs and business people were found to have attempted to evade election laws.

The Canberra-based Free Enterprise Foundation has been used to wash donations from developers which are banned in that state.

The party of business is now in a deep financial hole in NSW, having borrowed money for its federal seat campaign against $4.4million in funding that state's electoral commission won't provide it until all reportable donations are disclosed.

Michael Yabsley, the party's former federal Liberal Party treasurer, revealed to the ABC earlier this year membership in NSW has plummeted to 8000, mainly made up of factional players looking to leverage candidates into parliament.

It's ironic, given his current stance, that the ousting of Abbott was seen as the reason for donations drying up and people refusing to pay memberships and volunteer on election day.

As welcome as the conversion is, his call for radical changes to the rules comes late in his time in Parliament.

There have been too many Rolex and $5000-a-head dinners for him to be now riding a white horse.

The Queensland Government is slowly dragging itself towards the level of reform Speaker and Nicklin Independent Peter Wellington has demanded of it.

It shouldn't be taking this long. That it has is indicative of the difficulties it will face in extracting itself from the web of support it receives through Queensland Labor Holdings - a problem replicated in the LNP with its Altum Property Trust.

As with their use of parliamentary expense entitlements, politicians and political parties have no filters. Their needs are paramount and infinitely justifiable.

Rules they are quick to demand others to follow don't apply.

A study, Clean Money in a Dirty System, by Queensland economists Cameron Murray and Paul Frijters, released in 2015, found developers with well-connected links to politicians and political parties seemed to have an inside run in their capacity to purchase land that then became subject to rezonings which delivered windfall profits.

Michael Pascoe observed the report should have brought down state and local governments, sparked a royal commission and radically changed the Australian housing industry.

Instead, the silence was deafening.

A new draft SEQ Regional Plan with an expanded urban footprint is about to hit the table next month which will pave the way for the push to cram another two million people into the most densely occupied part of the state, which is already struggling from a lack of infrastructure.

Where the lines fall will prove instructive.