A NSW Labor candidate has hit out at his critics hours after announcing he’s pulling out of the upcoming state election.
Former Canberra Raiders NRL captain Terry Campese announced on Friday he would no longer be running in the March 25 ballot for the southern seat of Monaro.
It follows a week of media scrutiny over revelations Mr Campese attended a sex-themed party last year, which featured a “spank station” and was decorated with various sex toys.
Mr Campese, 38, was filmed at the party wearing just his underwear, a tie and a police hat.
By Friday afternoon, Mr Campese had been interviewed about his shock departure by Erin Molan on Sky News.
“I’d definitely go again,” Mr Campese said when asked by Ms Molan if he regrets attending what was apparently a “good friend’s birthday” with “a cheeky theme”.
“They don’t show you the photos of people fully clothed, they pick and choose what photos they put on the headlines,” Mr Campese told Sky, “[I’m] disappointed at how it got out there, and how I was portrayed.”
He denied anything illegal took place at the event.
Reports on Friday also revealed Mr Campese had visited Macquarie Correctional Centre in Wellington in December to conduct charity work alongside a mate who had been convicted of drug smuggling.
“I’ll stick by him, I’ll be there until he’s out, and I’m still really good friends with his family, so why is the story about him, and not about the really good work that this jail has done?” asked Mr Campese.
“I’ve got two beautiful young kids, and I don’t want them waking up each and every day wondering where dad’s going to be in the paper … it’s pretty disgusting to be honest.”
Mr Campese also denied being pushed by Labor leaders.
“Definitely not,” he said. “This has come down to my decision … the community is just so supportive and I’m disappointed by how this has played out.”
He also said he wouldn’t be running as an independent, telling Ms Molan “I don’t even know what that means”.
“I’m very, very sad about giving up, but at the end of the day, it’s about my family.
“I have definitely learned a lot, and I just can‘t believe how cruel it can be behind the scenes, and what people will do to be in power, and to try and take people down who are just trying to do the right thing for the community.”
NSW ALP leader Chris Minns last week said Mr Campese’s behaviour at the party was “distasteful” but that it was ultimately a “private matter” for the then-Monaro candidate.
Mr Campese is the fourth Labor candidate to stand down ahead of the election in just over a month’s time.
Story Credit: news.com.au