NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has resigned in the wake of controversy over his appearance at the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Mr O’Farrell has been caught out by the ICAC about receiving a $3000 bottle of Penfold’s Grange from then-Australian Water Holdings (AWH) boss Nick Di Girolamo in 2011.
He maintained he spoke truthfully at the commission and said the receipt of the wine was a “significant memory fail”.
“I still can’t remember the receipt of the gift of 1959 Grange; I can’t explain what happened to the wine, but I do accept there is a thank-you note signed by me and as someone who believes in accountability, I accept the consequences.”
Mr O’Farrell had denied receiving the wine at all, saying he spent Easter 2011 on the Gold Coast, and even Oscar the cocker spaniel was away from the O’Farrell family home on Sydney’s north shore about the time the delivery is said to have been made.
The gift was never declared on the premier’s pecuniary interests register although MPs must disclose any gift worth $500 or more.
But Mr Di Girolamo had told the inquiry he received a thank-you call from the premier after sending the wine.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mr O’Farrell was shown a record of a 28-second telephone call from his mobile number to Mr Di Girolamo, made about 9.30pm on April 20, 2011.
“I’ve no knowledge – I don’t know about this phone call,” Mr O’Farrell told the commission.
“What I do know is if I had received a bottle of 1959 Penfolds Grange I would have known about it and I did not receive a bottle of Penfolds Grange.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott praised Mr 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.”
Mr O’Farrell is the second NSW premier to fall at the hands of ICAC. Nick Greiner resigned in 1992 after being found to have acted corruptly over the Terry Metherell affair.
The Liberal party will now have to elect a new leader with speculation mounting over two possible candidates including Treasurer Mike Baird.
Mr O’Farrell will reportedly still host the royals when they arrive today.
I''ve been told that Barry O'Farrell will host the royal couple at the Syd Opera Hs as Premier, with Gov. Bashir this afternoon, as planned.
— Jeremy Fernandez (@JezNews) April 16, 2014
– With AAP