Sam Datyari

The Coalition this week has had the challenge of attacking Labor Senator "Sinophile Sam" Dastyari for receiving donations from Chinese businesses while insisting foreign donations were perfectly OK. It's been a manful struggle. Christopher Pyne contorted himself into knots trying to explain what exactly Dastyari had done wrong while trying to avoid acknowledging there might be any innate problems with getting donations from foreign sources; provincial lawyer George Brandis today declared foreign donations were "a different conversation" from the Dastyari case; Barnaby Joyce, displaying a remarkable ignorance of the Electoral Act, declared that gifts were different to "cold hard cash" (check the definition of gift under s.287, Barnaby).

Another element missing from most of the coverage of Dastyari's stupidity and the media puffing about foreign donations is any mention that the Coalition defeated an attempt by Labor to ban foreign donations in 2009. That was contained in a bill -- which was supported by the Greens, long advocates for proper donations and disclosure rules -- for political donations and donations disclosure reform put forward by then-special minister of state John Faulkner.