Local member Adrian Piccoli has described Barry O'Farrell as a “friend of Griffith”.
Premier O’Farrell resigned earlier today after a handwritten note was presented to a corruption inquiry in which he thanked the head of a company linked to the Obeid family for a $3000 bottle of wine he had previously vehemently denied accepting.
Despite holding a senior ministerial position in the state government Mr Piccoli is ineligible to replace Barry O’Farrell as he is a Nationals member and not part of the Liberal party.
The education minister considered Mr O’Farrell a close friend and praised him for doing the honourable thing by resigning.
“By resigning he has enforced the high standards he set for the entire government on himself,” Mr Piccoli said.
“He acknowledges he made a mistake, even though he still doesn’t remember receiving the wine but that’s beside the point, he has set the standard high and abided by it.”
The member for Murrumbidgee said Griffith would have lost ground on the Murray Darling Basin Plan if not for Mr O’Farrell’s leadership.
“He is a very good friend of Griffith and all the local irrigation areas,” he said.
“He will be remembered in this part of the world for his strong stance against the Murray Darling Basin Plan in its original form.
“Thanks to his intervention what we ended up getting was infinitely better than what was on offer under the previous government.”
In late February Mr O’Farrell signed on to the Murray Darling Basin Plan after he rolled over on his demand that the Commonwealth agree to a 3 per cent cap on irrigation entitlements buybacks, per valley, per decade, in exchange for 1500GL water purchase caps and priority water infrastructure programs.
That decision was expected to unlock $80 million in infrastructure funding for the state across the next eight years.