Richard Torbay was first elected to the NSW Parliament in 1999 as the member for Northern Tablelands, a seat centred on the University town of Armidale in northern NSW.
I first encountered Richard Torbay, a year or two before 1999, when he was the guest speaker at a dinner of a professional organisation I was a member of at the time, held at Austin College at the University of New England. He was young, the Mayor of Armidale and CEO of the University Union. At the end of his address, I said to my colleagues that was the speech of a person who was seeking a seat in Parliament, and I thought he would be standing as a Labor candidate. My colleagues, not being politically savvy, dismissed my comments.
In 1999 he stood as an Independent and won the seat – beating the incumbent MP. Just before the election, polling was showing the incumbent retaining the seat and when I mentioned this to a well connected Armidale resident, he laughed at me assuring me Torbay would win. What I didn’t know – and what was apparently an open secret, but kept under tight wraps – was that Eddie Obeid was the back-room man supporting Torbay, that the ALP candidate was running dead and that traditional Labor voters were being encouraged to vote 1 Torbay.
In 2001 Tony Windsor resigned from the NSW Parliament, and the circumstances of his final speech to the NSW Parliament caused some controversy. Torbay publicly invited me to contact him so he could tell me the “true circumstances”, something he apparently wasn’t prepared to tell the media. I suspected his invitation was a rouse – and that he didn’t envisage me actually accepting his invitation, but I did. During our telephone conversation Torbay refused to disclose information which would have corroborated his story so eventually I asked him to make a statutory declaration regarding it. With that he told me “You have no credibility” and hung up. Never one to be deterred, I then started publishing an advertisement each month in the Armidale Express newspaper (at considerable financial expense to myself) asking certain questions, which Torbay studiously ignored.
Those advertisements didn’t illicit an answer from Torbay- but were a lightning rod for people with grievances against Torbay to contact me. There were many and the factual circumstances were so out of sync with a highly popular MP, a Mayor and a person who had had a meteroic rise from University kitchen hand, they seemed fanciful (later many of them proved to be true) There were so many – and they all needed proper investigation before they could be published – the task seemed overwhelming for a single person with limited resources and nothing to gain from doing so, I didn’t progress them any further.
The most serious one, still remains unresolved, but it did prompt a NSW magistrate, Roger Prowse, to make a public statement – a most unusual course.
On the other hand the grievance Torbay was a walking art gallery but went to extraordinary lengths to cover his tatts up by always wearing long sleeves, even in the middle of summer, was proved by Torbay “coming out” as an inked man during his period as Speaker of the NSW Parliament.
In Sydney, Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney, Cr Jess Miller a Team Clover councillor has a tattoo on her right shoulder.
It is not known whether she is an out and proud walking piece of art, or whether like Torbay, she is involved in a cover-up. In public appearances she seems to favour a long sleeved outfit.
In any event the Daily Telegraph has outed her in an article published on 4 December 2017.