‘You are my family’: Gladys Berejiklian faces ICAC for inquiry into her conduct as NSW Premier

Anton NilssonNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: Supplied

Gladys Berejiklian has told a corruption inquiry she would not disclose her former relationship with an MP colleague if she could have her time again.

The former NSW premier is responding to an investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption into whether she breached the public’s trust in the course of her secret relationship with former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire.

She has previously denied wrongdoing and said she always acted with integrity.

The counsel assisting the ICAC, Scott Robertson, SC, asked Ms Berejiklian how come she wouldn’t disclose the relationship.

“The threshold for me was, did I feel there was a commitment which I would be able to share with my parents or my sisters? And I didn’t feel that there was a sufficient significance in order to do that, in terms of commitment,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Gladys Berejiklian took the witness stand shortly after 10am.
Camera IconGladys Berejiklian took the witness stand shortly after 10am. Credit: Supplied

She also said she agreed with Mr Maguire’s comments in regards to the “hallmarks” of the relationship, such as having been in love with each other.

“I had those feelings but I was never assured of a level of commitment that in my mind would have required me to introduce him to my parents,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Ms Berejiklian was shown a text message she sent to Mr Maguire in April, 2018 where she said: “You are my family.”

However the former NSW premier said that while she had strong feelings for Mr Maguire, she did not consider him the same status as her immediate family.

“I regarded him as part of my love circle ... but I wouldn’t put him in the same category as my parents or my sisters.”

Ms Berejiklian confirmed testimony by Mr Maguire that he had a key to her north Sydney house, but that she had since changed her locks.

Ms Berejiklian took the witness box at the Independent Commission Against Corruption shortly after 10am on Friday.

In the first 20 minutes of her testimony, she was told twice by the ICAC commissioner to refrain from “making speeches” and answer Mr Robertson’s questions directly.

One of those comments by commissioner Ruth McColl came after Ms Berejiklian told the inquiry that she always acted with the public interest in mind.

Mr Robertson asked Ms Berejiklian at one point if she had “some difficulty in understanding my questions” after she qualified her answer instead of answering yes or no.

That comment came after a question about whether Mr Maguire had greater access to Ms Berejiklian compared to other backbenchers.

Gladys Berejiklian and Daryl Maguire are both under investigation by the ICAC.
Camera IconGladys Berejiklian and Daryl Maguire are both under investigation by the ICAC. Credit: Supplied

“I would say that all of my colleagues had equal access in relation to matters regarding their electorate, no doubt about that,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Her appearance at ICAC comes towards the end of an 11-day public inquiry.

The ICAC is investigating allegations Ms Berejiklian had a conflict of interest when she advanced funding requests by her then-secret boyfriend without disclosing the relationship.

It is also probing whether she failed to report allegedly corrupt conduct by Daryl Maguire, the former Wagga Wagga MP, and whether she encouraged that behaviour by turning a blind eye.

The day before Ms Berejiklian’s appearance, the ICAC heard recordings of tapped phone calls in which Ms Berejiklian vowed to Mr Maguire she would “throw money” at Wagga Wagga.

She was also heard in the phone call saying she could “overrule” any bureaucrats who may oppose the cash splash.

The phone call happened in 2018, after Mr Maguire had been caught allegedly lying to the ICAC and sacked from the Liberal Party by Ms Berejiklian.

The pair were heard discussing projects that should be funded during the by-election in order to retain the seat for the Liberal Party.

Ms Berejiklian is expected to be questioned about two Wagga Wagga projects that Mr Maguire championed.

She allegedly used her power as treasurer and premier to advance them.

One project was $5.5 million in funding for a gun club, a submission that had failed to convince public servants it would bring a benefit to the state.

The other was two tranches of funding for a music conservatorium in the Riverina city. The second batch of $20 million was promised during the 2018 by-election.

During his testimony on Thursday, Mr Maguire was asked a series of intimate questions about the relationship, which was conducted in secret from 2015 until the middle of 2020.

He told the ICAC the pair had contemplated marriage and children, would stay together from time to time, and take holidays together.

The counsel assisting the ICAC, Scott Robertson, indicated those questions were relevant to establishing the nature of the relationship and whether it was significant enough to warrant disclosure under rules for NSW ministers.

Ms Berejiklian’s lawyer argued the questions should not be asked in public, but was overruled.

The former premier’s testimony is expected to continue on Monday.

Originally published as ‘You are my family’: Gladys Berejiklian faces ICAC for inquiry into her conduct as NSW Premier

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