Barry O'Farrell resigns: Illawarra MPs 'devastated'

Most Illawarra politicians have taken Premier Barry O'Farrell's resignation at face value, saying it was an act of integrity to step down after he was caught out misleading a corruption inquiry over a $3000 bottle of red wine.

Mr O'Farrell announced on Wednesday morning that he would resign after the Independent Commission Against Corruption was presented with a handwritten note, in which he thanked the head of a company linked to the Obeid family for the bottle of 1959 Grange.

Mr O'Farrell had previously told the ICAC he had no recollection of receiving the extravagant gift, and maintained this stance yesterday.

Kiama MP Gareth Ward said he was "absolutely devastated" by the news, but said Mr O'Farrell's swift action was commendable.

"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.

He said there was no comparison between "forgetting about a bottle of wine" and the "level of enrichment" received by former Labor ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald.

Likewise, Heathcote MP Lee Evans said NSW had lost one of its best premiers, saying it was "a damn shame" Mr O'Farrell resigned over a "relatively minor infraction".

Mr Evans said it was likely Mr O'Farrell would have received "thousands of gifts and written thousands of cards" in the weeks following the 2011 election, making it plausible he could have forgotten about the bottle of wine.

Unlike some of her Labor colleagues, Wollongong MP Noreen Hay refused to put the boot in after Wednesday's announcement, saying she took no satisfaction from seeing any good politician's demise.

"But when you set high standards, you have to be able to live up to them," she said, adding that Mr O'Farrell standing down was "the appropriate action".

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery also commended Mr O'Farrell's actions.

"The Premier has resigned because he set a high standard for his own behaviour, so I think he's keeping his own integrity by doing what he's done," he said.

Mr O'Farrell will meet Liberal colleagues next week, with either Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian or Treasurer Mike Baird expected to be his successor.

Minister for the Illawarra John Ajaka's media adviser told the Mercury Mr Ajaka was "not commenting" on Wednesday's events.

Related coverage

Grange-gate costs Premier his job

'Influence, power, greed' mocking democracy

Critics won't forgive foibles

Abbott's praise for an 'integrity' bar set low

Vintage not quite up with cellar-mates


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