Shock as premier steps down

THE sudden resignation of NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell after he admitted providing “inaccurate” evidence to a corruption inquiry has been met with shock and sadness by local political figures.

Mr O’Farrell was under oath on Tuesday when he told the Independent Commission Against Corruption he had never received a $3000 bottle of wine from a man with links to disgraced former MP Eddie Obeid.

But yesterday the 54-year-old said although he still could not recall receiving the 1959 Grange in 2011 – and did not know what had happened to the gift – he accepted he had written a thank-you note acknowledging its receipt.

“In no way did I seek to mislead, wilfully or otherwise, the Independent Commission Against Corruption,” he said.

“But this has clearly been a significant memory fail on my part, albeit within weeks of coming to office, but I accept the consequence of my actions.”

Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson told The Leader he wanted to thank his Coalition colleague for the “huge support” he had given the Tamworth electorate during his tenure.

“All along Barry O’Farrell has been a man of process and a man of integrity and he stood down immediately when he realised his situation,” he said.

“He’s always been there whenever we’ve needed anything and he’s put a lot into Tamworth and a lot into our region.”

Northern Tablelands MP and fellow Coalition colleague Adam Marshall said he was “shocked” by yesterday’s announcement, but believed Mr O’Farrell had “done the honourable thing”.

Guyra-based Liberal MLC Scot MacDonald was “saddened” and said his thoughts were with Mr O’Farrell and his family. “Barry turned the state of NSW from the financial brink of disaster,” Mr MacDonald said.

“He brought discipline to the public sector that had been missing for a long time. He kick-started a comprehensive infrastructure program. 

“Whoever the next premier is needs to continue that legacy.”

Tamworth mayor Col Murray said he was “disturbed” to hear the news yesterday, as Mr O’Farrell had been a “great supporter” of Tamworth, its people and the country music festival.

Mr O’Farrell, whose last visit to Tamworth was during this year’s festival in January, will call a meeting of the parliamentary Liberal Party next week when a new Liberal leader – and therefore premier – will be elected.

Treasurer Mike Baird and Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian have been touted as among the leading contenders.

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