“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





16 April 2014



One bottle of tired old Grange ... New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell has promised to quit for forgetting it.

"As soon as I can organise a meeting of the parliamentary party next week, I will be resigning the position and enabling a new Liberal leader to be elected," O'Farrell said at this morning's press conference.

When challenged yesterday by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), O'Farrell denied being given the bottle by Australian Water Holdings (AWH) executive Nick Di Girolamo. 

AWH is being investigated over allegations it invoiced Sydney Water for lucrative expenses then used this taxpayer's money for handover to political parties, executive salaries and other dodgy business.

The ICAC inquiry has already reached far into the top ranks of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's Federal government, triggering the 'standing aside' of Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos.

This followed the ICAC inquiry hearing claims that Sinodinos, a former AWH director and treasurer of the NSW Liberal Party, "stood to make up to $20 million from a contract with the state-owned Sydney Water Corporation."

Sinodinos was also the right-hand man of former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard.

O'Farrell this morning admitted to a "significant memory fail on my part" after yesterday telling the Commission he was "not a wine connoisseur," and denying the gift was delivered.

He claimed yesterday he could not recall the 28-second phone call transmitted from his phone to Di Girolamo's at about the time Di Girolamo claimed he'd had the wine delivered to the Premier's door to congratulate him for his 2011 election victory.

The Grange label was dated May 24, 1959, which happens to be O'Farrell's birthday. The gift is not listed on O'Farrell's pecuniary interests declaration. The rare bottle, said to be worth AU$3000, is from the last of the 'Hidden Vintages' of Grange, when winemaker Max Schubert made the wine secretly, against the instruction of his Sydney-based employers, and their savage MD, the fearsome Grace Longhurst.

ICAC officers linked the gift to allegations that AWH had lobbied O'Farrell "over an agreement with the state-owned Sydney Water to roll out water infrastructure."

Di Girolamo had told ICAC that O'Farrell phoned him to thank him for the gift.

At this morning's press conference, O'Farrell admitted that a personal note from him to Di Girolamo was in the possession of ICAC.

O'Farrell insisted his forgetfulness was truthful, but said "I do accept there is a thankyou note signed by me ... As someone who believes in accountability, in responsibility I accept the consequences of my action," he said.

"In no way did I seek to mislead wilfully ... That would go against everything I am.

"But this has been a clearly significant memory fail on my part, but I accept the consequences of my actions."

It must be said O'Farrell's scalp was an unexpected result for the ICAC inquiry.

Barry O'Farrell image taken this morning from the website of the Premier of New South Wales

Respected journalist Mike Carlton tweeted this morning "Have to say it's a shame about Barry O'Farrell. He was a good premier, and I am sure he was honest. I liked him personally ... 

"I suspect BOF genuinely forgot about the Grange. And the thank you note. I've known him a long time. He's not a liar. 

"If we send a bottle of Grange to Abbott it might work its fatal magic again. Anyone want to chip in?"

Plenty of opportunity here for those seeking to scalp politicians ... photo by Milton Wordley, from our book A year in the life of Grange ... this morning's shenanigans would have made a perfect final chapter!


Peter Scudamore-Smith MW said...

Milt would love that-imagine the photo opportunity too! He showed me your marvellous book in my office this week!

Anonymous said...

James Packer may have a job lined up for Barry O’Farrell at Sydney’s second casino for all the accomplishments that he achieved whilst in office like the speedy approval of Sydney's second casino.

Collette Snowden said...

I find it very hard to believe that anyone would forget getting ANY bottle of wine that had their own birthdat and year on it, let alone the most famous wine in Australia - even Philistines like me know what a Grange is! If he didn't know what it was worth surely he could have had one of his many staff find out and add it to the register. The most telling part of his thankyou note is the underlining of ALL --- conscious, emphatic and pointing to more connections with NG. I think he should share defence notes with Oscar Pistorius.