CANBERRA – The leader of Australia’s most populous state quit as premier on Wednesday in the face of mounting evidence that he failed to declare a 3,000-Australian-dollar ($2,800) bottle of wine that arrived as a gift on his Sydney doorstep.
New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell had told a corruption inquiry on Tuesday that he never received a bottle of 1959 Penfolds Grange Hermitage as a gift from businessman Nick Di Girolamo congratulating him weeks after his 2011 election win.
Grange is an iconic label and is synonymous with expensive Australian wine. Grange vintages are consistently rated among Australia’s best shiraz, although 1959 was not an outstanding vintage.
O’Farrell, who described himself as “no wine aficionado,” was supposed to add such a valuable gift to a public register aimed at deterring political donors from buying influence.
O’Farrell said he announced his resignation Wednesday because he was told that a thank-you note he wrote to Di Girolamo and his wife would be given to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, an agency that investigates claims of official corruption.