Sam Dastyari

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Sam Dastyari
Senator Sam Dastyari March 2014.jpg
Dastyari at the Sydney Mardi Gras in 2014
Senator for New South Wales
Assumed office
21 August 2013
Preceded by Matt Thistlethwaite
Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate
In office
23 July 2016 – 7 September 2016
Leader Penny Wong
Preceded by Claire Moore
Succeeded by Katy Gallagher
Personal details
Born Sahand Dastyari
(1983-07-28) 28 July 1983 (age 33)
Sari, Iran
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Spouse(s) Helen Barron (m. 2010)
Residence Russell Lea, New South Wales
Alma mater University of Sydney
Macquarie University

Sahand "Sam" Dastyari (born 28 July 1983[5]) is an Australian Senator representing New South Wales, and former General Secretary of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labor Party. He is the first person of Iranian origin to sit in an Australian parliament.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Sari, Mazandaran Province, Iran[3] to an ethnic Azeri father and Persian mother, Dastyari arrived in Australia in January 1988, aged four.[7] His parents were student activists in the 1979 Iranian revolution.[2]

Dastyari attended John Purchase Public School in Cherrybrook, where he was elected school captain (before the principal vetoed the election result),[4] and Baulkham Hills High School, where he was school vice-captain and graduated in 2001.[8] Although he was admitted to medicine,[4] he decided to study law and enrolled at the University of Sydney, where he studied for a Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Laws.[4] Dastyari soon dropped out, having been "so caught up in the movement and student politics".[4] He has since completed undergraduate studies at Macquarie University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in politics and studied part-time.[4]

Dastyari joined the Labor Party at 16, running the Labor Club while at university, as a "student wheeler-dealer",[9] and becoming President of Young Labor.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Dastyari lives in Sydney's inner-western suburb of Russell Lea, together with his wife Helen and daughter.[1]

Dastyari is a member of the Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society.[10][11] although publicly claiming "[s]ome [halal] certifiers are nothing more than scammers."[12]


Dastyari, as a member of Labor's Unity faction, initially worked with lobbyists Hawker Britton. Dastyari was elected as General Secretary of NSW Labor in March 2010 with the support of the Transport Workers' Union (TWU), the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), and the Australian Workers Union (AWU).[2] Dastyari is a member of the Labor Right faction.[13]

On 21 August 2013, a joint sitting of the Parliament of New South Wales appointed Dastyari to the Senate seat vacated by Matt Thistlethwaite, who had resigned on 9 August to contest the House of Representatives seat of Kingsford Smith at the 2013 federal election.[14]

The retirements of Bernie Ripoll and Jan McLucas from the shadow ministry was the cause of a reshuffle in October 2015 which saw Dastyari become the Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for School Education and Youth.

Following Labor's narrow defeat at the 2016 election, Dastyari was promoted to the shadow outer ministry becoming the Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate and spokesman for consumer affairs. Dastyari resigned from the positions following a controversy over payments and gifts from Chinese companies.[15]


Dastyari identifies as a "non-practising Muslim".[16][17] In 2012, at a dinner to promote multiculturalism and "bring Muslims and others together to learn and understand each other’s culture and religious significance", Dastyari said "Labor core values are similar to Islamic social values such as equal justice and respect for everyone".[18]

In 2016, Dastayari expressed strong criticism of the political influence wielded by ten of the largest corporations operating in Australia - Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, Westpac, ANZ, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Fortescue Metals, Telstra and "your two big grocery chains", Woolworths Limited and Coles Supermarkets.[19][20]

Dastyari supports same-sex marriage.[21]

Foreign donation controversy[edit]

In September 2016, it was revealed that Dastyari had asked a Chinese company, Top Education Institute, run by a businessman with links to the Chinese government, to cover a travel expense. Yuhu, another Chinese company, paid a $1,600 legal bill for Dastyari.[22] Sam Dastyari spoke at a number of Chinese held conferences and was reportedly at odds with the Australian government's policy, as well as his own party's policy, on the South China Sea. Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister, accused him of accepting money in exchange for supporting China in its South China Sea territorial disputes.[23] The uproar over Dastyari's actions was seen by The Economist as a sign of the changing mood among Australians regarding Chinese investment.[24]

As a result of this controversy, on 7 September 2016 Dastyari resigned from his shadow frontbench position as Manager of Opposition Business and spokesman for consumer affairs, and is now a backbencher in the senate.[15]


  1. ^ a b Chancellor, Jonathan (23 November 2012). "NSW Labor machine man Sam Dastyari upgrades inner west family abode". Property Observer. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Barry, Paul (2 July 2012). "The Power Index: Sam Dastyari". Private Media Pty Ltd. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Snow, Deborah (25 June 2011). "Force of youth". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Summers, Anne (24 August 2013). "Master of the maze". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  5. ^ Snow, Deborah (27 July 2013). "Cautious reformer eyes a leap into Senate". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University". Master of the maze. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  7. ^ Anne Summers, "Master of the Maze", The Age, 24 August 2013, Good Weekend, p. 36
  8. ^ Summers, Anne (18 August 2013). "Master of the maze". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 
  9. ^ Akerman, Piers (3 May 2014). "Labor shows that it has learned nothing". The Sunday Telegraph. 
  10. ^ "Senator rates halal snack pack a 10". Sky News Australia. March 17, 2016. Retrieved April 30, 2016. 
  11. ^ Rawson, Sharnee (14 July 2016). "Senator Sam Dastyari's guide to halal snack packs". Good Food. Fairfax Media. 
  12. ^ Aston, Heath (2 December 2015). "'Nothing more than scammers': Senate committee calls for halal overhaul". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 August 2016. 
  13. ^ "Labor's Sam Dastyari wins endorsement for Senate seat". 
  14. ^ "Labor's Dastyari gets nod for Senate". ninemsn. 21 August 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  15. ^ a b's-front-bench/7823970
  16. ^ Koubaridis, Andrew (19 July 2016). "'It is the politics of fear and division and, Ms Hanson, you're incredibly good at it'". Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  17. ^ Craine, Emily (19 July 2016). "Are you Muslim or not, Sam? Labor senator told Pauline Hanson he was a Muslim on Q&A. Now he says he's 'non-practising'... so how does he explain these photos of him swilling a cold Crown Lager?". Daily Mail Australia. Retrieved 31 July 2016. 
  18. ^ "Solicitor Ejaz Khan hosted a Iftar dinner at the Himalaya Restaurant Sydney". Sada-e-Watan Sydney. August 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2015. 
  19. ^ "Ten companies have taken control of Australian politics, says Labor senator in fiery pub speech". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2016-02-05. 
  20. ^ Glasgow, Will (10 April 2015). "Is Sam Dastyari the most anti-business person in Australia?". Australian Financial Review. 
  21. ^ Nicholls, Sean (27 July 2014). "Same-sex marriage gets state Labor support". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Australia’s growing fear of Chinese business is drenched in hypocrisy

External links[edit]

Parliament of Australia
Political offices
Preceded by
Claire Moore
Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate
Succeeded by
Katy Gallagher
Party political offices
Preceded by
Matt Thistlethwaite
General Secretary of the Australian Labor Party (NSW Branch)
Succeeded by
Jamie Clements