You may know him as the man that called out Sydney housing prices in a viral Youtube video, or as that guy that consistently keeps “backlashing” any comment Pauline Hanson makes, I mean who doesn’t. But NSW Labor Senator Sam Dastyari really is so much more than that. The senator joined the Australian Labor Party at age 16 and ran the Labor Club while at university, so Labor has pretty much been instilled into his mind since the beginning of his political journey.
As I began chatting to the first Iranian-born pollie in the Australian Parliament, I noticed something. He wasn’t like any other politician. Of course his “out of place” dark youthful features and small stature didn’t resemble what the typical Australian politician looks like, but his ideas and visions for the future grabbed me way quicker than the student crushing 2017 budget.
Pauline is having a good day. pic.twitter.com/QwDV7N9DpN
— Sam Dastyari (@samdastyari) June 22, 2017
Usually, you will find the senator seated to the front right-hand side of the cabinet where he is surrounded amongst his other fellow deputy opposition whips. Mr Dastyari is confident but not too serious and he tends to use humour while imparting serious messages. I really liked that about him. And he actually presents the notion of caring about what happens to the generation below him. Too often that notion seems misplaced within Australian politics.
The senator surprised me with his clever wit and his embrace of social media as a way of connecting with people. With just over 23,000 followers on Twitter, the senator tends to take to social media to interact with people, create opinionated video content and share several images of his beloved “halal snack pack”.
That time when the government turned a humble bank CEO into a beat poet. pic.twitter.com/6Jec06q34e
— Sam Dastyari (@samdastyari) June 30, 2017
His not-so traditionalist way of operating had me engaged from the moment I typed his infuriatingly hard last name into Google. He was stepping out of the comfort zone of a regular pollie and I was seeing a politician at a level that actually seemed human and relatable. As we began discussing the notion of utilising social media the humorous practicality of Mr Dastyari’s responses were exactly what I wanted to hear.
“I think at times there is a bit of an arrogance that comes from the political establishment when they look at things like social media and you can kind of sense that oh people should be coming to us and the job of of a politician is to deliver 20-minute speeches in parliament”, he said.
With a frustrated tone of voice alongside a reasonable giggle the senator admits “it mostly doesn’t recognise how people get their news and information”. Finally I thought, a politician that actually understands the 21st century.
As the rumble of the Bill Shorten Labor Party Bus echoed in the background of our chat I began to see more and more a side of politics I wanted to be involved. That side was Mr Dastyari. He was funny and weirdly enough humour tends to work, especially when that humour is used to educate the generation who have disconnected themselves far away from the world of politics.
For a man that couldn’t have been more engaged with politics from a young age, Mr Dastyari actually understood what needed to be done about the displaced generation. His use of memes and short humorous videos across his social media platforms were a quick fix to update you on the week of politics. Of course, they represent a labour party bias but as Mr Dastyari said “social media is a fairly easy way to go to people and it’s how people consume their media and news, on their Facebook pages”.
It only got better as I spoke to the senator and I started to realise that this man had a way of understanding the public, especially the students of today. He’s 33 years old – young for a national politician, and only 13 years older than me. He appears interested and engaged in the future of today’s young Australians. Mr Dastyari sympathised with me when I had explained my fears for the future and that moment was special for me. It was special because it showed human-like empathetic qualities which are often misplaced in the parliament. Mr Dastyari was a real person who understood real feelings and he was able to share the benefit of being young not so long ago and relate on several levels.
“It’s really frightening, what you have is a generation of young people now and that amount of debt with which they are going to be loaded with”. We continued to talk all things housing prices for several minutes after but there was one word in particular that resonated and still resonates with me after our chat.
“We’re a generation of young Australians that feel like they’re going to be worse off than their parents”. Mr Dastyari uses the word “we” and I am instantly welcomed by the amazing revelation that he in fact is in my category and he now shares the same defeats as us.
I noticed a change of tone in the senator’s voice as we entered into “Young Australian” territory. It was a passion and fight I hadn’t heard throughout the whole conversation. He was hungry for change and said “the lack of political organisation and movement for young Australians I think is a real part of the problem”.
“I really really do worry that is going to be this generation and I can see it now who are just be left behind”.
Recognising the issue and problems of the next generation is slowly slipping away from reality and I think Senator Dastyari’s views and willingness to accept we need change is a huge sigh of relief for the students of today.
The noticeable change and passion that instilled his voice whilst we spoke about future Australians was both invigorating and refreshing. His social media presence and desire to engage with that community is so exciting for the world of politics and it’s about time we learnt to embrace it. The senator may come from a completely different walk of life, but he represents the Australian people with an open mind and it seems we’re going to need these type of views higher up in Parliament in the very new future. All I will say now is watch the Mr Dastyari’s face because I think we can expect to see a lot more of his light hearted nature in the very near future.