Former Northern Tablelands MP Richard Torbay has broken his silence after dropping out of public life so spectacularly three weeks ago.
Mr Torbay who has not been heard of since he was dumped as the Nationals man for New England on March 19, issued the following statement at 12.05pm today.
"I would like to thank the community for the numerous messages of thanks and support after my decision to retire as Member for the Northern Tablelands.
The privilege of working with so many in the community to successfully achieve so much for the electorate and New South Wales is something I feel honoured to have been a part of.
I will always consider Armidale and the New England area my home, where I intend to live and work in the future.
I am currently taking an extended break with my family and friends, who have been very supportive for so long.
It has been reported in the media that there has been a referral to ICAC. I intend to cooperate fully.
I have been advised not to respond to media speculation which has been overwhelmingly false and misleading and sadly has targeted my family, friends and associates.
I again thank the community for their genuine support and concern for my wellbeing and that of my family."
The public demise of Mr Torbay has gathered pace since he was dumped as the Nationals' man to tackle New England MP Tony Windsor at the September poll.
It was the evening of March 19 when the Nationals issued a terse statement dumping the independent MP as its preselected candidate for the federal election.
That shockwave was still reverberating when just hours later Mr Torbay resigned as the independent state member for Northern Tablelands, effective immediately. On the same day he also stepped aside from his role as chancellor of UNE, a position he intended to leave on April 19.
In a statement, Mr Torbay cited the amount of pressure placed on his family by politics, but also acknowledged he had brought forward the decision.
A little more than a week later, ICAC investigators came calling on Mr Torbay's Armidale address.
After a six-hour search they left his home and electorate office with carrying brown bags, boxes and suitcases filled with files.
The Nationals preselection for Northern Tablelands will take place on April 20.
Former National Farmers Federation president Jock Laurie; Nationals staff member Claire Coulton; and a former Gunnedah mayor Adam Marshall make up the field.
A date for the byelection has yet to be announced.