NSW Labor candidate Khal Asfour steps down claiming 'vicious smear campaign' against him

| 20.01,23. 06:28 PM |

NSW Labor candidate Khal Asfour steps down claiming 'vicious smear campaign' against him

Khal Asfour addresses the media
Khal Asfour said he has been subjected to an ongoing smear campaign. (AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Canterbury-Bankstown Mayor Khal Asfour has stepped down as a NSW Labor candidate for the upper house due to what he describes as a "vicious smear campaign" against him

His office released a statement this morning stating he would step down from the state election race due to the impact "relentless leaks" were having on his family and "his beloved Labor Party".

The Daily Telegraph today reported Mr Asfour charged ratepayers for a health spa treatment in Tokyo and claimed cash for luxury clothing and alcohol spent overseas.

The ABC has since obtained the documents, related to a parliamentary inquiry into allegations of impropriety at the Canterbury-Bankstown council.

A receipt
A receipt showing alcohol purchases at LA International Airport by Mr Asfour. (Supplied)

The receipts show Mr Asfour charged more than $100 to ratepayers for a massage for DVT (deep vein thrombosis) in Tokyo and for a $500 briefcase.

The documents also show he charged alcohol including beer, vodka, and wine back to the taxpayer that he purchased overseas, including at a New York vs Boston Red Sox baseball game at Yankees Stadium.

He also claimed reimbursements for luxury clothes under “corporate attire” expenses from luxury brands like Hugo Boss, Armani and Polo Ralph Lauren.

A form
A councillor claim form showing a massage and limousine request for reimbursement by Mr Asfour in 2015. (Supplied)

The inquiry was ordered by Local Government Minister Wendy Tuckerman last November, with an outcome due before March.

A spokesman for Mr Asfour said the mayor had acted within the local government policy.

"The Mayor is vehemently denying any wrong doing and has at all times adhered to the policy set by Council, a policy scrutinised by the Office of Local Government," the spokesman said.

The spokesman said Mr Asfour did not want to negatively impact the Labor Party.

"The Mayor realises the attacks will continue and it is in the Labor Party's best interests he is not a distraction," the spokesman said.

"Chris Minns is an outstanding leader and will be a breath of fresh air for the people of NSW."

Last week, an independent probe cleared Mr Asfour of wrongdoing after explosive accusations of corruption were levelled against him by former Labor MP Tania Mihailuk.

She had used parliamentary privilege to accuse Mr Asfour of acting in the interests of developers and linked him to jailed former Labor minister Eddie Obeid.

A man and a woman walking
Tania Mihailuk with NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham today.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

The speech led to her sacking from the shadow cabinet by Labor leader Chris Minns and a month later she quit the party.

Today she said the revelations about Mr Asfour's expenses confirmed he was not suitable to stand for parliament.

"I feel happiness for the people of New South Wales … I think it's a good outcome … but it should never have come to this," she said.

"I still stand by my view that Chris Minns and his Labor team are not ready to govern in New South Wales."

Ms Mihailuk, a former mayor of Bankstown, said she was confident all her expenses from her time on council were in line with policy.

"We used to buy alcohol for gifts, I remember giving many gifts to the directors of the Bankstown RSL … we certainly bought a number of gifts for people who provided service to Bankstown," she said.

"Meals on Wheels volunteers would receive gifts, people volunteering in the RSL were given gifts, but no not for myself personally."

She said sometimes there were "tough calls" when it came to expenses but elected representatives needed to be able to justify those decisions.

"I certainly haven't ever claimed any massages or anything of the like."

In 2016 it was revealed Ms Mihailuk claimed more than $460 for a single daytime taxi fare when she was mayor.

Today she said that was due to "medical reasons".

"All of that was for the purposes of council and at the time it was completely supported by the general manager [of council] that I would need assistance. I didn't ask for a driver."

Ms Mihailuk has officially announced she's preselecting as a One Nation candidate for the upcoming state election.

(Votes: 0)

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