Barry O’Farrell says he will resign as Premier of New South Wales over his memory failure about a $3000 bottle of wine sent to him as a gift.
A corruption inquiry today has a handwritten note from Mr O’Farrell thanking Australian Water Holdings executive Nick Di Girolamo for the present, saying: “1959 was a good year even if it is getting further away!”
Yesterday he categorically denied he received, or remembered receiving, the bottle of Grange Hermitage from the head of the company, which had links to Eddie Obeid, a notorious Labor Party powerbroker.
O’Farrell told the the Independent Commission Against Corruption yesterday he could not recall a phone call on April 20, 2011, to the man who allegedly sent the gift.
Today he said: “This clearly has been a significant memory fail on my part.”
“I accept the consequences of my action,” he said.
“I still can’t explain the arrival of a gift that I have no memory of.
“No way did I seek to mislead, wilfully or otherwise, the independent commission against corruption.
“I still can’t recall the receipt of a gift of a bottle of 1959 Grange.”
O’Farrell told a press conference he would go to the parliamentary Liberal party, offer his resignation so a new leader could be elected.
He will return to the inquiry to give further evidence today.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said O’Farrell had “constantly worked to do the right thing by the people of NSW”.
“He innocently, inadvertently mislead ICAC yesterday, he’s taken the utterly honourable step of resigning as premier.”
Australian Water Holdings is being investigated for its attempts to secure government contracts. One of AWH’s directors was Arthur Sinodinos, a serving federal Senator and former chief of staff to John Howard when he was prime minister. Sinodinos resigned his position as finance minister before appearing before the inquiry last month.