NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has resigned in the wake of his appearance before the state’s Independent Commission Against Corruption.
O’Farrell made the shock announcement at a media conference a short time ago.
O’Farrell revealed that a note thanking Liberal fundraiser Nick Di Girolamo for a $3000 bottle of Penfolds Grange, which he had claimed he never received, would be presented to the corruption watchdog.
The outgoing premier called it a “massive memory fail” but said he never wilfully misled the ICAC.
“I accept the consequences and in an orderly way a new Liberal leader will be elected,” O’Farrell said.
A stony-faced O’Farrell stressed in the ICAC witness box on Tuesday that neither he nor his wife Rosemary had any memory of receiving the gift in April 2011.
It was never declared, as required, on his register of pecuniary interests.
“I still can’t recall the receipt of a gift of a bottle of 1959 Grange,” O’Farrell told reporters on Wednesday morning.
“I can’t explain what happened to that bottle of wine.
“But I do accept there is a thank you note signed by me, and as someone who believes in accountability, in responsibility, I accept the consequences of my action.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott praised O’Farrell for falling on his sword.
“I have enormous respect and admiration for Barry O’Farrell,” he said.
“I have known him for two decades and he is a friend of mine.
“He innocently, inadvertently misled ICAC yesterday and he has taken the utterly honourable decision of stepping down.”
O’Farrell said he would likely remain in the job until next week, when he will hold a meeting with the parliamentary Liberal party and the process of electing a new leader will begin.
O’Farrell became NSW premier after the Liberals romped to victory in March 2011.
Within an hour of his announcement, the ICAC confirmed O’Farrell will be recalled to the witness box.
He later old ICAC he was sorry for giving “inaccurate” information to the corruption hearing but maintained he didn’t remember the infamous bottle of red.
“It is a matter that I deeply regret as someone who has always defended this institution,” he said.
TEXT OF BARRY O’FARRELL’S HAND-WRITTEN NOTE TO NICK DI GIROLAMO
Dear Nick and Jodie
We wanted to thank you for your kind note & the wonderful wine.
1959 was a good year, even if it is getting even further away!
Thanks for all your support.
Barry and Rosemary.
Premier of New South Wales
Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW
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