NSW government MP Daryl Maguire is under pressure to quit politics altogether after being caught discussing a cut he and a local councillor could pocket from the multi-million dollar sale of a Sydney property to one of China's biggest developers.
The Wagga Wagga MP stood down from the Liberal party on Friday night after fronting an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry but will remain in state parliament as an independent.
Mr Maguire was secretly recorded on several occasions trying to strike a deal in 2016 with then Canterbury City councillor Michael Hawatt, who is at the centre of an ICAC investigation.
The conversations were aired during an ICAC hearing in Sydney on Friday.
Soon after, Mr Maguire announced he would quit his role as parliamentary secretary for counter terrorism, corrections, veterans and the Centenary of ANZAC.
"I apologise unreservedly for causing distress and embarrassment to my party," he said in a statement.
Acting NSW Premier John Barilaro said he had discussed the matter with Liberal leader Gladys Berejiklian - who is on leave - and accepted Mr Maguire's resignation.
"He's admitted that he's done wrong and is now paying that price," Mr Barilaro told reporters.
"He will have to face the people of Wagga ... and he will have to earn their trust back."
Acting NSW opposition leader Michael Daley said the NSW premier should demand Mr Maguire resign from parliament immediately.
"Merely taking a small pay cut on his salary and going to the crossbench is unacceptable," Mr Daley told AAP on Friday.
Mr Maguire, who has been the member for Wagga Wagga since 1999, told the inquiry he'd never done any business with Mr Hawatt and didn't remember much from their "occasional" meetings.
Moments later, he was heard telling Mr Hawatt he had a client with "mega money" who would be interested in a site in Canterbury which had been approved for 300 units.
He asked the councillor what "margin" he would get from the "quick sale", worth up to $51 million.
"1.5 per cent isn't enough divided by two if you know what I mean?" Mr Maguire said.
"Yeah, I understand. Yeah I do understand," Mr Hawatt said.
Mr Maguire replied: "So three per cent is much better."
Asked to explain what he had meant, Mr Maguire said it appeared he was speaking about "a dividend to be shared by two".
When asked who the other interested person would be, the government backbencher said: "Well, I suspect it was me."
He said the pair intended to introduce property developers to each other and share commissions from sales - but insisted no commissions ever eventuated.
Mr Maguire denied he was an agent for the Chinese developer - Country Garden - but conceded he had "certainly sought to assist" them in purchasing sites in Australia and had become "great friends" with Country Garden's Australian chief executive.
The parliamentary secretary was heard in another recording discussing with Mr Hawatt that if the developer needed a strategic policy engagement director, he was "it".
"They can pay my company," he said.
He suggested Country Garden could pay a retainer and then "a couple of grand a day" if he went into the office.
In another recording, Mr Maguire said he had asked the local government minister's office to put forward Mr Hawatt on the new Canterbury-Bankstown advisory council.
The corruption watchdog is investigating claims of improper conduct at the now defunct Canterbury City Council - in particular, the actions of two councillors, Mr Hawatt and Pierre Azzi.