Kiama MP Gareth Ward says he is ‘‘absolutely devastated’’ by former premier Barry O’Farrell’s resignation after he was caught out over his evidence to a corruption inquiry concerning a $3000 bottle of red wine.
‘‘It would be very easy for me to take advantage of Barry’s demise, but the reality is that today the premier held himself to the same standards he applied to others and in public life that is a rarity,’’ Mr Ward said.
‘‘I’m sure many will talk about standards today, as they should rightfully do, and we should all hold ourself to high standards... The premier has held others to high standards and today he applied those standard to himself and it is absolutely commendable.’’
Mr Ward said he had been privileged to serve a Premier who had seen record roads and health funding in the Illawarra and said Mr O’Farrell’s swift resignation showed he had a ‘‘deep level of respect’’ for the Independent Commission Against Corruption process.
However, Mr Ward said there was no comparison between ‘‘forgetting about a bottle of wine’’ and the ‘‘level of enrichment’’ received by former Labor ministers.
‘‘I think regardless of where corruption is it needs to be sought out and thwarted, but I think it is still impossible to compare the level of enrichment received by Obeid, McDonald and co, to forgetting about a $3000 bottle of wine and being forgetful in giving evidence to the ICAC,’’ he said.
Mr Ward said it was ‘‘to early to talk about’’ the leadership vote for the next Premier, but said both Transport minister Gladys Berejiklian and Treasurer Mike Baird - who have been tipped by some as contenders - were excellent candidates.
‘‘Both are excellent ministers who have demonstrated their skills and talents,’’ Mr Ward said.
‘‘Both of them would be worthy candidates, but at this stage it’s too early to talk about the next Premier.’’
‘‘Barry O’Farrell has been a friend and a mentor and I have always reciprocated and I’m very disappointed and deeply upset for him and his family,’’ Mr Ward said.
Mr Ward also said he was not seeking a promotion in any reshuffle of state portfolios.