A NSW Labor MP has been sacked less than 24 hours after failing to agree to stop using parliamentary privilege to launch “attacks” on a colleague.
- In a speech to NSW parliament, Ms Mihailuk said Mr Asfour was a “tainted” candidate
- Mr Asfour challenged Ms Mihailuk to produce evidence backing her allegations
- Chris Minns said it was unacceptable for Ms Mihailuk to use parliamentary privilege to attack a colleague
In a speech to the legislative assembly on Tuesday, Bankstown MP Tania Mihailuk accused Canterbury-Bankstown Mayor Khal Asfour of being linked to jailed former Labor minister Eddie Obeid.
Labor Leader Chris Minns informed Ms Mihailuk on a commercial radio interview this morning, she had been removed from shadow cabinet.
He said he offered her an ultimatum on Thursday afternoon and gave her two hours to agree.
“I put it to her that a fair settlement in these circumstances was for Tania to not launch any more parliamentary privilege protected attacks on Labor candidates without information,” he said.
“I don’t believe using parliamentary privilege at 11:30 at night is the appropriate form of action and I stand by that.”
Mr Minns said he continued to ring her and send text messages, but received no response.
“This morning I left a voicemail message and a text message, saying I need an answer because I cannot obviously run the NSW Opposition from a position where a member of my team is still considering whether to agree.”
Khal Asfour is set to be a candidate on Labor’s senate ticket at the state election in March next year.
In the speech, Ms Mihailuk suggested Mr Asfour was a “tainted” candidate and described how Mr Obeid attended Mr Asfour’s wedding and gave him a generous gift.
“I raise my legitimate and longstanding concerns regarding Asfour’s character and his unprincipled actions in furthering the interests of developers and identities, in particular Eddie Obeid,” she said under parliamentary privilege.
Mr Asfour has rejected Ms Mihailuk’s claims, saying they were “outrageous and unsubstantiated”.
“She has used parliamentary privilege to launch a cowardly attack on me and my family and I call on her to produce evidence of any wrongdoing to the relevant bodies,” he said.
The Labor Leader has admitted he doesn’t know whether Ms Mihailuk has provided information in her statement or evidence to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
But he said he took into account the allegations had been referred to the ICAC by the Canterbury-Bankstown Council several years ago, and the corruption watchdog did not launch an investigation.
“There’s no evidence to suggest that he’s corrupt, I’ve read the speech really closely, I’ve looked at the circumstances,” Mr Minns said.
“She needs to provide the information to back up the extraordinary allegation that a member of local government and a mayor in Sydney is corrupt.”
While Mr Asfour has been picked to run in March, he must first be endorsed at the state Labor Party conference next month.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said Mr Minns’s actions showed the ALP was prepared to silence people who “stand up” to reveal alleged corrupt behaviour within the party.
“This is exactly the type of behaviour that allowed Eddie Obeid [former MP] to flourish,” he said.
“Silencing strong women who are standing up and speaking out in relation to alleged corruption in the NSW Labor party should not be tolerated.”
Mr Asfour said he would not be stepping aside as mayor and has referred the “baseless and hurtful” allegations contained in Ms Mihailuk’s statement to the ICAC.
Canterbury-Bankstown Council chief executive officer Matthew Stewart said Ms Mihailuk’s allegations were an “attack” on the integrity of council and staff.
He also said an independent inquiry lead by Kath Roach from consulting firm SINC Soluton and overseen by barrister, Arthur Moses SC had been set up to investigate the claims.
“We have approached the best to ensure a thorough process is undertaken,” he said.
“I owe it to the staff, the integrity of the council and our entire community.”
Mr Stewart said he had convened an urgent meeting this morning with Ms Roach and Mr Moses, but would not be commenting on the outcome.
“Other than to say it was very positive and provided us with a very clear path forward.”
It is expected that Mr Moses will also oversee “any steps that may need to be taken by the Council following the investigation.”