STRANGE POLITICS: Senator Sam Dastyari has stepped down from Labor's front bench after getting a Chinese donor to pay for his travel bill.
STRANGE POLITICS: Senator Sam Dastyari has stepped down from Labor's front bench after getting a Chinese donor to pay for his travel bill. Digitally altered

Strange Politics: Dastyari's resignation prompts greasy phenomenon

FIRST they put their onions out for Tony Abbott in his winter of despair.

Then keyboard jockeys called for blokes to flop out their todgers in solidarity for slain gorilla-cum-babysitter Harambe.

Now it is Senator Sam Dastyari's turn to ride the bizarre #PutSomethingOutForSomeone internet phenomenon.

The young political firebrand's hallmark smile had thoroughly dissolved when he told media he was stepping down from Labor's frontbench.

Brow furrowed, eyes dark and solemn, he begged forgiveness for sending a $1670 personal travel bill to a Chinese donor.

What he did was not illegal but it was still wrong, he told reporters on Wednesday.

"I'm not a shy person. I've never been afraid of the spotlight, but in the past week it's clear that the ongoing examination of my behaviour is taking attention away from bigger issues facing Australia and Australians,” he said.

"The last thing a government as bad and as divided as this one deserves is a free pass.”

Taking the money was a chump move but at least Dastyari bowed out - much classier than his Cheshire Cat-grinning media conference the previous day when he tried to play it down and keep his job.

Only after a barrage of repeated drilling at Tuesday's scrum did he admit: "Why did I ask them to pay? To avoid paying a $1670 bill myself.”

Dastyari has still failed to explain why he called for Australia to respect China's illegal - as the international Court of Arbitration deemed it - claims to territorial waters in the South China Sea.

He now claims he "misspoke” when calling for Australia to remain neutral, having previously suggested Chinese media had misquoted him.

The Turnbull Government letting this rest with Dastyari's resignation from the shadow cabinet is about as likely as John Howard being called up to captain the next Ashes squad.

He will just have to grin and bear it.

But to the real issue at hand: What is all this #PutOutYourHSPs nonsense?

When Tony Abbott was on the verge of being dropped as prime minister, social media users across Australia posted photos of onions on their doorsteps along with the tag #OnionsOutForTony - in homage to his favourite raw food.

It was drawn from the #PutOutYourBats tribute to Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes when a ball hit him in the neck mid-game and killed him in 2014.

Thousands of people left cricket bats on their front porches as a mark of respect.

The whole #D*cksOutForHarambe sensation took the hashtag to a strange place after the gorilla was shot when a child fell into his enclosure at the Cincinatti Zoo.

Dastyari, then a young and relatively unknown senator, really entered public consciousness when he offered live on television to take One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson out for a Halal Snack Pack - a kebab shop delicacy of halal meat, chips, cheese and sauces.

Hanson "flipped out”, as Dastyari later recalled, telling him in no uncertain terms she did not "believe in halal certification” and pulling out dubious statistics to claim 98% of Australians agreed with her stance.

So when Dastyari stepped back into the senatorial wilderness this week, supporters took to social media to post photos of their greasy snack packs along with the tag #PutOutYourHSPs.

The internet is a weird and unforgiving place, but Sam Dastyari is only 33 years old and has impeccable taste in heart attack-inducing munchies.

He will be back and he will not be looking for hand-outs.

EDITOR'S NOTE: If any kebab shop owners have thrown Dastyari a free lunch, please get in touch.

Strange Politics is a satirical column.