NSW resources minister resigns amid ICAC raid

The New South Wales Resources Minister Chris Hartcher has resigned as the corruption watchdog raids his parliamentary office.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption has executed a search warrant today.

In a statement Hartcher said he has resigned from his portfolio.

“My resignation follows the issue of a search warrant by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) against me,” Hartcher said.

“I am confident I will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

“This is the first contact I have had with the ICAC and given that their investigations have thus far had an unknown timeframe, it is appropriate that I resign.”

Hartcher said he will continue to serve as the Member for Terrigal while ICAC conducts its investigations.

In the interim Fair Trading Minister and Member for Lane Cove Anthony Roberts will be appointed acting Resources Minister.

Penrith MP Stuart Ayres will also be sworn in on Monday filling the vacant ministry position, when it is expected portfolio arrangements will be announced.

Premier Barry O’Farrell, who is currently in India on a trade mission, said he spoke to Hartcher earlier today.

“I accept and support Mr Hartcher’s decision to resign from Cabinet following today’s actions by ICAC,” O’Farrell said.

“Hartcher advised me he is confident he will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

“However Chris [Hartcher] said that while the investigation is ongoing and in the interests of the Government, he feels it appropriate to resign from the ministry.”

In September the ICAC raided the offices of two of Hartcher’s Central Coast affiliates, Chris Spence and Darren Webber.

It is understood the raids were related to irregular donations which resulted in the suspension of former Hartcher staffer Ray Carter.

Carter allegedly fielded a $5000 donation from a businessman to fund Central Coast Liberal candidates – including Hartcher.

But the money ended up in a fund set up by another Hartcher employee, Tim Koelma, who also resigned last year.

Koelma and Carter have both denied any wrongdoing.

The NSW Minerals Council has thanked the former resources minister saying he has provided valuable support to the mining sector over the past two years.

“His support for the $24.5 billion NSW mining industry has helped support local jobs and economic stability in regional communities, the suburbs of Western Sydney and right across NSW,” the Minerals Council said in a statement.

The Minerals Council said Hartcher has championed policies around energy security and pricing and is urging the Government to pursue these initiatives.

“The NSW Minerals Council looks forward to working with the incoming Resources Minister to continue to deliver jobs, investment and economic growth for NSW.”

More to come.

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