NSW Premier Mike Baird at a press conference prior to calling on two former Liberal MPs to resign from NSW Parliament. Photo: Peter Rae
Two disgraced MPs, both suspended from the NSW Liberal Party, have resigned from the NSW Parliament, just hours after Premier Mike Baird resisted calls to help expel the pair.
Speaker Shelley Hancock announced the resignations of Newcastle MP Tim Owen and Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell when question time began at 2.15pm.
In an extraordinary development on Tuesday morning, Mr Owen confessed to a corruption inquiry that he lied about returning an envelope stuffed with $10,000 in cash to property developer and now Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy.
Andrew Cornwell was the chief government whip before he was called to appear before the NSW ICAC. Photo: Daniel Munoz
Mr Cornwell, the former chief government whip, has admitted to taking $20,000 from property developers.
Mr Owen, who had already been suspended from the Liberal Party, admitted at the Independent Commission Against Corruption that he met Mr McCloy on Sunday and the two men "shook hands" on a plan to lie under oath about the money.
The inquiry heard Mr McCloy will give evidence that Mr Owen told him that "my wife will divorce me" if he admitted taking the cash, which is prohibited under laws in NSW banning political donations from property developers.
Tim Owen admitted to giving false evidence to the ICAC. Photo: Wolter Peeters
The shock confession put the Newcastle MP under pressure to quit Parliament immediately rather than waiting until the 2015 election.
Mr McCloy has been urged to step down as lord mayor during the inquiry.
"I think it's fair to say that every person across NSW will feel appalled, they'll feel angry and they'll feel betrayed by events they've seen over the past couple of days ... it's how I feel," Mr Baird said on Tuesday before the resignations were announced.
"Being a member of Parliament is an incredible honour and privilege. It brings an incredible amount of trust and respect. It is something that should be given the highest amount of trust and respect by every single member.
"I say to the members [Mr Owen and Mr Cornwell], it is time to consider their positions."
Byelections will be held in the seats with the timing yet to be determined. The general election is due next March.