Dr Richard Torbay was an Independent MP of the NSW Government from 1999 to 2013. He could have been on his way to Canberra as the National Party candidate for New England, up against Tony Windsor, at the upcoming Federal Election, but when the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said he had serious questions to answer regarding his association with Eddie Obeid, he suddenly resigned and vanished into the ether. He also resigned as Chancellor of the University of New England.
There has been a serious allegation - that the Obeid family gave Richard Torbay $50,000 cash in a suitcase at their family offices at Birkenhead Point. "This is National Party bullshitting" Obeid said. "I'd like someone to say that because we'd be suing."
Mr Torbay's father, like Eddie Obeid, was born in Lebanon and both families are members of the close-knit Maronite Lebanese community. Mr Torbay has been heard to refer to Obeid as "Uncle Eddie."
If allegations can be believed, Obeid's power faction, The Terrigals, wielded tremendous power in the NSW government and was responsible for Torbay running as an Independent, when he was really a dyed-in-the-wool Labor man. It's also alleged that Obeid got him the plumb job of Speaker.
Richard Torbay is a nice bloke, people like him, and his determination to succeed has to be admired. He left school early with no qualifications and got some tattoos. He started out as a kitchen hand at the University of New England in Armidale and in 2008, became the University's Chancellor after being granted an honorary doctorate.
Federal Nationals Leader Warren Truss said "It was just so disappointing that there seems to be some issue in his past that potentially has tainted that outstanding record of service to the community - we do not know what he has done .....but I found Richard Torbay to be a very decent bloke.
Sam Dastyari, General Secretary of the NSW branch of the ALP doesn't agree. He tweeted "Good riddance to Richard Torbay, a career liar who has been caught out, Australia can do without him in our nation's Parliament."
Yesterday when Mr Torbay's wife Rosemary spotted a newspaper cameraman, she planted a kiss on her husband's cheek, as a sign of support.