'We've lost an excellent politician': O'Farrell's resignation a sad day for politics

THE fall of NSW’s premier over a bottle of wine marked a sad day for state politics, leaving Orange’s own politicians in shock.

Premier Barry O’Farrell’s resignation after admitting he wrote a thank you note to former Australian Water Holdings chief executive Nick Di Girolamo for a $3000 bottle of wine surprised Orange City councillor Glenn Taylor, who ran as a Labor candidate at three state elections between 1995 and 2003.

“It’s the little things that bring them down, not the big things,” he said.

“Two days ago, his leadership was 100 per cent safe and two days later, he’s stood down. It’s a sad day for politics in general in NSW.”

However, Cr Taylor argued Mr O’Farrell’s legacy to Orange was limited, with the $1.5 million Nashdale bridge the only significant investment from the Coalition, opened on Tuesday.

He said Labor was responsible for delivering the new hospital, the Northern Distributor Road and police station. 

“We have gotten a lot less with a representative in government than in opposition,” he said.

Cr Taylor anticipated Treasurer Mike Baird would become the new premier.

Fellow councillor and former Member for Orange Russell Turner said it was an absolute tragedy a small mistake had ended Mr O’Farrell’s career.

“I think the vast majority of the public are not aware of the hard work that politicians do, and the amount of paperwork that goes past their desk every day,” he said.

“This is an awful mistake and I don’t think the punishment fits the crime.

OUR SAY: MR O'FARRELL SENDS A MESSAGE IN A  BOTTLE

Cr Turner said Mr O’Farrell had united the factions to win government with a record majority.

“I’m still shocked by the news - we have lost an excellent politician,” he said.

During Mr O’Farrell’s visit to Orange in 2012, Orange Mayor John Davis said the former premier demonstrated enthusiasm for what he could do for the state.

“It’s disappointing because he had a sizeable majority and I don’t believe he had time to put his policies fully into practice,” he said.

However, he believed Mr O’Farrell made the right call.

“If you’re leading the team from the front, you have to advocate a standard of discipline - you have to make sure your quality is the same as what you’re demanding from your team.”

Member for Bathurst Paul Toole said he felt “numb and shocked”.

“I nearly hit the ground, not one person could have seen this coming,” he said.

“The Premier made an error of judgement and has paid the ultimate price. 

“His decision, however, typifies the type of bloke he is.”

Mr Toole said Mr O’Farrell beefed up ICAC’s powers to help rid NSW of corruption.

“What this does show is that politicians are now even more accountable than ever before,” he said. 

Mr Toole believed Minister for Energy and Resources Anthony Roberts was an outside chance for the leadership, but thought Mr Baird or Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian were more likely.

Mr Baird and Ms Berejiklian are the current favourites.

Member for Orange Andrew Gee declined to comment.

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