Now just a man on the street: Barry O’Farrell walks across Macquarie Street. Photo: James Brickwood“Another great autumn day for Sydney”, chirped Barry O’Farrell on Thursday morning, as he tweeted a photo of the sun warming the sandstone buildings of Macquarie Street.
A few hours later came another tweet. “A new career?” he asked, posting an image of himself in a green and gold Kangaroos blazer.
For the man who began the day as premier but wouldn’t finish a backbencher, Mr O’Farrell was in a jolly mood.
But a day after his spectacular demise over a hand-written note and a bottle of red, government sources said not all was mirth.
“Obviously he’s upset, he’s distraught,” said one close colleague. “But he’s a creature of politics. He could foresee what was in front of him and he decided to pull the pin.”
John Brogden understands the lows of a political careers can bring. The former NSW opposition leader, who is now a national patron for Lifeline, said he spent an hour with Mr O’Farrell on Wednesday.
Mr Brogden fought a battle with depression which that eventually let to a suicide attempt in 2005.
He declined to comment on Mr O’Farrell’s mood, saying only: “I’m not willing to talk about it, but I was with him, yeah.”
A host of political friends have swarmed around the fallen former premier as he navigates the darkest days of his career. Chief among them is Planning Minister Brad Hazzard, a long-time ally of Mr O’Farrell who was quick to publicly bemoan his resignation.
Mr Hazzard escorted Mr O’Farrell as he ran the media gauntlet at the ICAC on Wednesday.
Colleagues had arranged a posse of supporters accompany Mr O’Farrell into the Liberal party room ballot on Thursday, insisting he not do the “walk of shame” alone.
“He’s been the biggest thing in that room for seven years and today he’s walking in there for the last time as premier and I think that’s going to be an enormously emotional thing for him,” said a source.
It was sweet and sour day for former state MP Bruce Baird, Premier Mike Baird’s father and Mr O’Farrell’s former boss. Mr O’Farrell was Mr Baird snr’s chief of staff for five years and eventually married his personal assistant, Rosemary.
“[A political downfall is] tough,’’ said Mr Baird snr. ‘‘It’s not like you’ve just been made redundant down at the local warehouse. It’s high profile, everyone knows,” Mr Baird senior said.
“He’s a good man. I regret the fact that he’s gone over something that’s not earth-shattering. It’s a bottle of wine, for heaven’s sake.”