Greens call for "bribe" MP to resign

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Published August 9, 2014 - Sean Nicholls, Sydney Morning Herald State Political Editor

Pressure is building on disgraced former Liberal MP Andrew Cornwell to resign from the NSW Parliament after the Greens and Labor signalled their willingness to consider moving a motion to have him expelled.

Balmain MP Jamie Parker said he was "seriously considering" moving an expulsion motion against Mr Cornwell in the Parliament if he does not heed the Greens' call to resign after his admission at a corruption hearing that he took a $10,000 bribe.

Opposition Leader John Robertson said Labor would "look at all the options open to the Parliament in relation to Mr Cornwell continuing to sit as an MP".

The Greens called on Friday for the resignation from Parliament of Mr Cornwell and Newcastle MP Tim Owen, who is also under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in relation to illegal fund-raising before the 2011 state election.

On Thursday, Mr Cornwell admitted to the ICAC that he accepted payment of $10,000 from property developer Hilton Grugeon – a banned donor – for a painting probably worth several hundred dollars. He used the money to pay a tax bill.

Counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson, SC, put to Mr Cornwell that the payment "was some effort by him to try to bribe you, don't you agree?". Mr Cornwell agreed it was "definitely an effort to try to curry favour".

Mr Cornwell also admitted taking $10,000 in cash from another banned donor, property developer Jeff McCloy, which was used in his election campaign.

The ICAC has heard there are "serious irregularities" relating to campaign funding in Mr Owen's seat of Newcastle.

Mr Parker said the evidence made the positions of Mr Owen and Mr Cornwell "untenable" as their actions "taint the entire Parliament''.

Greens candidate Jamie Parker.

Greens MP Jamie Parker. Photo: Lee Besford

"It is a great privilege to serve as a member of parliament but these members have clearly breached that trust," he said.

"If Mr Cornwell chooses not to resign, I will seriously consider putting a motion to the Parliament that he be expelled."

Under the Legislative Assembly standing orders, any MP can move a motion seeking the expulsion of another who is "adjudged by the House guilty of conduct unworthy of a Member of Parliament".

It would require government support to pass. Premier Mike Baird declined to comment on whether Mr Cornwell should remain in Parliament.

Mr Cornwell resigned from the Liberal Party on Friday and announced he would not recontest his seat of Charlestown.

Mr Owen – who has announced he will not recontest Newcastle next March – has stood aside from the parliamentary Liberal Party to sit on the crossbench pending the ICAC's findings.

Read SMH online here

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