Tim Owen at ICAC this week. Photo: Wolter Peeters
The resignation of two suspended NSW Liberal MPs is expected to be announced in NSW Parliament on Tuesday afternoon just hours after NSW Premier Mike Baird resisted mounting pressure to help expel the pair from Parliament.
The Herald understands Speaker Shelley Hancock will announce the resignations of Newcastle MP Tim Owen and Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell before question time at 2.15pm.
In an extraordinary development on Tuesday morning, Mr Owen, a suspended Liberal MP, 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.
Mr Owen 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.
The shock confession puts the Newcastle MP under pressure to quit Parliament immediately rather than waiting until the 2015 election.
Charleston MP Andrew Cornwell has also admitted to taking $20,000 from property developers and is also facing calls to quit.
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 during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
"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."
Asked why he would not support a motion by Greens MP Jamie Parker that would see Mr Cornwell expelled from Parliament, Mr Baird argued that was a decision for Mr Cornwell to make.
"Every single member of Parliament deserves the right to due process," Mr Baird said. "That means there's no formal finding, there's no formal charge that has come against any single member of Parliament. I will not be participating in any stunts or political games that those opposite want to to play."
During Tuesday's ICAC hearing, Mr Owen admitted he and Mr McCloy agreed to give evidence yesterday that he had only received $2000 and that he had returned it. But he said on Tuesday he took $10,000 in cash and the money was "rolled into" his campaign.
Mr McCloy will give evidence that Mr Owen said his wife Charlotte Thaarup-Owen would divorce him as he had "sworn on a stack of bibles" that he had not taken illegal donations during his campaign, a claim Mr Owen denies.
The commission has previously heard that Mr McCloy and Mr Owen met at a coffee shop in Sydney in May this year after Mr Owen gave evidence in private to the ICAC.
Mr Owen had come directly from giving evidence at a secret hearing at ICAC. It is an offence for a person to disclose that they have given evidence in private at the commission.
Mr McCloy's barrister Ian Faulkner, SC, said Mr Owen said that the ICAC was not interested in him because he knew nothing about funding.
Mr Owen said he could not recall saying that.