Defiant Gladys to ride storm despite backbench unrest
Premier Gladys Berejiklian is fighting for her leadership after recordings exposed her secret years-long love affair with an MP under investigation for corruption, who regularly raised his questionable business deals with her.
MPs were last night taking stock, with key factional leaders publicly declaring allegiance to the Premier despite considerable unrest on the backbench.
A string of phone taps and text messages have revealed how former MP Daryl Maguire regaled the Premier with tales of his debt and his plans to get out of it, under the proviso that if he could quit politics they would make their relationship public.
Ms Berejiklian yesterday said she had "failed in her personal life" and was facing one of the hardest days of her life, but noted ICAC had not found any wrongdoing on her behalf.
Nonetheless, senior MPs and backbenchers are openly questioning her judgment and her willingness to keep the relationship - which only ended in August - secret for two years after Mr Maguire was sensationally fired.
Some phone taps, including one taken on Valentine's Day, were deemed too personal or private to play in the public ICAC hearings.
In one phone call, Ms Berejiklian called Mr Maguire her "numero uno" and referred to him by an Armenian pet name which roughly translates as "my soul" or "my love" but said she didn't need to know the details of a deal he hoped would get him out of massive debt, the ICAC has heard.
Ms Berejiklian attempted to dismiss Mr Maguire's talk of deals as "big talk", insisting she often wasn't listening to him, and assumed he had made appropriate parliamentary disclosure.
She said her "close personal relationship" with the former Member for Wagga Wagga had grown over years of working together.
For five years the intensely private Ms Berejiklian kept the relationship a secret from even her closest friends and family but a political scandal was building around the debt-riddled Wagga MP from 2016.
The ICAC previously heard Mr Maguire was in debt to the tune of $1.5m and had repeatedly told Ms Berejiklian about his money woes.
In a recorded phone call in September 2017, Mr Maguire speaks about the imminent success of a deal that could solve his problems.
"I'll make enough money to pay off my debts which will be good," he said. "Can you believe it - in one sale."
Ms Berejiklian responds "I can believe it".
Mr Maguire, in that call, mentions Badgerys Creek and, in another call, Ms Berejiklian told Mr Maguire "I don't need to know about that bit" as he began to go into detail about his dealings.
In one call the pair discussed Mr Maguire potentially going on a trade delegation to China to discuss an issue about job losses in a regional town relating to Australian agribusiness UWE and Chinese company Bright Foods.
Ms Berejiklian asks Mr Maguire if her chief of staff Sarah Cruikshank had called him. "They seem to think it's in your electorate. I didn't say anything," Ms Berejiklian says during the call.
Counsel assisting Scott Robertson suggested to Ms Berejiklian that she had said it "in jest" with a brief chuckle.
"No. No. No. Absolutely not," Ms Berejiklian replied. "My best recollection of that would be, you better tell them what this is about because I'm not going to interfere in it."
Two separate ICAC investigations have now heard Mr Maguire was not just a friend to developers in Sydney, he was fighting for their projects in the halls of parliament.
Mr Maguire appeared to allegedly "grease the wheels" by speaking to government officials on behalf of Louise Raedler-Waterhouse regarding zoning issues affecting her land and even gave the property developer a direct personal email contact for Ms Berejiklian.
Further intercepted calls revealed Mr Maguire directly spoke with Ms Berejiklian about Ms Waterhouse in October 2017. "She's got a big problem so I took her up to your office and said 'Here, can you help solve it'," he says.
When his relationship with property developers was exposed during an ICAC inquiry in mid-2018, Ms Berejiklian called for his resignation.
Yesterday she said she "questioned everything" about the relationship at the time.
"I do not know to this date the truthfulness about how he felt about me," she said.
Ms Berejiklian said she maintained the "association" with him, fearing for his welfare following the end of his career, but cut all ties after giving evidence at a private ICAC hearing in August this year. "He was in a very bad state … I felt I should check on his welfare," she said.
She said the pair had a "close personal relationship," but it "did not have sufficient status" for her to call him her boyfriend. She denied the relationship influenced her behaviour as Premier.
"I would always make sure that things were done in the proper way, and that is something I feel extremely strongly about," she said.
BEREJIKLIAN WON'T QUIT AFTER EXPLOSIVE REVELATIONS
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has brushed aside questions about her relationship with former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire, declaring it "wasn't of sufficient status for me to talk to anyone, including my family, about it".
Ms Berejiklian said she was not in an "intimate personal relationship" with Mr Maguire, a status which could have stricter requirements for her to declare the former MP's business interests on the public record.
The Premier said she has never expressed any issues with two "two consenting adults that don't work in the same office" having a relationship.
That's despite concerns raised privately by Liberals that Ms Berejiklian had taken a tough stance about relationships between Liberals working within the parliamentary precinct.
Ms Berejiklian told reporters that she "wasn't sure about it's future," when asked if the relationship should have been declared.
Ms Berejiklian also said Mr Maguire "had to go, quite a few many times," to improperly gain a benefit, but "nothing transpired."
"I want to take this opportunity to wholeheartedly thank all of the public servants, all of my colleagues, who had every opportunity made sure they did the right thing,
Labor is set to move a motion of no confidence against Ms Berejiklian as Premier in Parliament on Tuesday.
Labor Leader Jodi McKay accused Ms Berejiklian of being a "fraud".
Meanwhile, former NSW premier Mike Baird has come out in support of Ms Berejiklian, the woman who succeeded him in the state's top job.
"It's been a very difficult day for my friend Gladys," he said.
"I've always known her as a woman of high integrity, who works tirelessly for the people of NSW. She's a great Premier, doing great things for this state."
Mr Baird's post to Facebook attracted more than 1,000 likes within minutes.
When he decided to step down as premier in 2017, Mr Baird backed Ms Berejiklian - then Treasurer - for the job.
CROSSBENCHERS MAKE PARLIAMENTARY THREAT
Government legislation in the Upper House could be put in jeopardy if Gladys Berejiklian remains Premier.
Crucial crossbencher Mark Latham said One Nation is "not inclined to support anything" the government proposes unless Ms Berejiklian resigns.
The government needs the support of the crossbench including One Nation to pass legislation in the upper house.
"I'm not inclined to support anything they put up when they're led by someone who has (made) 14 breaches of the Ministerial code of conduct, and who has acted disgracefully by hiding a secret relationship," Mr Latham said.
During Ms Berejiklian's evidence to the corruption watchdog, Greens Upper House MP David Shoebridge said it was "hard to see how the Premier can survive a day in Parliament this week given the bombshells being dropped".
However Ms Berejiklian got the backing of former Premier Barry O'Farrell on Monday.
She said Mr O'Farrell, who resigned over an undeclared bottle of wine, contacted her to tell her "stay in your job".
SENIOR MINISTER BACKS PREMIER
Andrew Constance has defended Gladys Berejiklian as a "great Premier" after her relationship with former MP Daryl Maguire at was revealed at a ICAC hearing today, raising questions of her leadership.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph in Martin Place on Monday, Mr Constance defended the Premier's right to "personal space".
"I think outside the political bubble, most people have had a relationship which has had a breakdown of trust," Mr Constance said.
"That's her life, she's entitled to personal space."
When asked whether he knew about Ms Berejiklian's relationship with disgraced Wagga Wagga MP Maguire, Mr Constance didn't answer but said she was a "great Premier, battling the pandemic, battling the recession, focused on the task at hand."
"You won't find a better leader in the country," he said.
PREMIER SAYS SHE WILL NOT RESIGN
Gladys Berejiklian plans to fight on as Premier, telling reporters that she has "always put the public first".
She admitted that she "stuffed up" in her personal life but launched an impassioned plea to her Liberal colleagues, saying that "they know who I am".
The Premier stressed that she always attempted to keep her personal life separate from her role in Parliament.
She described a bruising ICAC hearing which revealed details of her personal relationship with former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire as "hands down one of the most difficult days of my life".
Appearing alongside the Premier, Deputy Liberal Leader Dominic Perrottet backed in Ms Berejiklian, saying she has always acted with the "utmost integrity and honesty"
Meanwhile, the Liberal party's centre right faction has held a teleconference and elected to continue to back Ms Berejiklian for the job.
Minister David Elliott said the Premier had the faction's support.
"Centre right has just held our teleconference and the Premier has our complete and unanimous support. Suggestions that she should walk away from public life because of a failed personal relationship with a spiv are, quite frankly, draconian."
"I DON'T NEED TO KNOW": BEREJIKLIAN
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told her "numero uno", MP Daryl Maguire, she "didn't need to know" about the details of a deal that he hoped would get him out of his massive debts, the corruption watchdog has heard.
The Premier says she regarded the man she was in a secret relationship with as a "big talker" with "pie in the sky" ideas she didn't always pay attention to.
Ms Berejiklian was brought into the Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation into former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire earlier this month.
The ICAC is probing Maguire following allegations he used his public office to enhance his business dealings.
Ms Berejiklian appeared before the ICAC on Monday morning where she revealed she had a "close personal relationship" with Maguire which had grown over 15 years of working together.
"I would like to state at the outset Mr Maguire was a colleague of 15 years, he was someone that I trusted," she said before being cut off and ordered to answer the question directly.
"That developed into a close personal relationship," she said.
In an intercepted phone call, on September 5 2017, Maguire tells Ms Berejiklian he'd "finally got Badgerys Creek stuff done".
"I'll make enough money to pay off my debts which will be good," he said.
"Can you believe it in one sale."
Ms Berejiklian responds "I can believe it".
The ICAC previously heard Maguire was in debt to the tune of $1.5m and had repeatedly told Ms Berejiklian, who he was seeing in private, about his money woes.
Ms Berejiklian said she had no particular recollection of the conversation.
"I can't assure you I was paying sufficient attention or regarded it as serious," she told the commission.
The ICAC previously heard Maguire had been lobbying government officials on behalf of the legendary Waterhouse racing family who were trying to develop or sell a massive tract of land around Badgerys Creek.
The ICAC previously heard Maguire put a man named William Luong in touch with the Waterhouse family to facilitate the sale.
The premier told the ICAC she did not know who Mr Luong was after Maguire mentioned the name in the call.
The commission previously heard Maguire stood to make between $690,000 and potentially up to $1m if the Waterhouse land was sold to a Chinese buyer called Country Garden.
In another phone call, on September 7, Maguire says a deal with Mr Luong appeared to be going through.
"I don't need to know about that bit," Ms Berejiklian responds.
Ms Berejiklian told the ICAC she said that because it was not interesting to her and felt it was probably "pie in the sky" talk.
She rejected Counsel Assisting the Commission Scott Robertson's question about whether she was trying to limit her own exposure to information.
"It was nothing for me at that time to consider a concern and if I did regard anything as a concern I would have reported it or dealt with it," she said.
The ICAC previously heard Maguire allegedly "greased the wheels" by speaking to government officials on behalf of Louise Waterhouse and even gave the property developer a direct personal email contact for Ms Berejiklian.
That was in order to get land zoning and roads changed around the Waterhouse property to potentially increase its value, the ICAC has heard.
Further intercepted calls revealed Maguire directly spoke with Ms Berejiklian about the developer.
Maguire, in October 2017, is heard directly explaining Ms Waterhouse's frustrations with bureaucrats.
"She's got a big problem so I took up to your office and said here can you help solve it," Maguire says.
"She's got a lot of property out at Badgerys Creek."
Ms Berejiklian said she doesn't recall that she read the email or letter that Ms Waterhouse sent to her private email.
The sale of the Waterhouse property did not eventuate and all evidence before the inquiry indicates the roads and zoning changes, requested by the developer, did not take place.
The ICAC closed its doors to journalists and the public just before lunch as a "private" intercepted phone call was played and Ms Berejiklian further quizzed.
When the commission reopened Ms Berejiklian agreed she'd called Maguire her "numero uno" in the call because he was of great importance in her private life.
In that phone call, the ICAC heard, the two politicians discussed Maguire's planned retirement in 2019 and the potential for them to go public with their relationship.
Ms Berejiklian said she would have been pleased had that happened.
Ms Berejiklian earlier agreed it would be "awkward" for the relationship to be widely known but said she kept it under wraps more because she was a very private person.
"It did not detract in any way from my role," she said.
"My public office is my priority."
But that never happened - instead Maguire was forced to stand down after a separate ICAC alleged he had been seeking commissions from other property developers.
Ms Berejiklian said she had been forceful in calling for Maguire's resignation from parliament in mid-2018 when that evidence became public.
She said she maintained contact with him, fearing for his welfare following the end of his political career, but cut all ties last month after giving evidence at a private ICAC hearing in August this year.
"He was in a very bad state, after having known him 15 years I felt I should check on his welfare," she said.
"For that reason I maintained that association."
Ms Berejiklian said she knew Maguire had business interests outside his parliamentary career but assumed he'd declared it at the appropriate time.
One text exchange, in 2014 before Ms Berejiklian was premier, appears to reveal Maguire telling Mr Berejiklian his "contact" had sold a motel for $5.8 million and he was entitled to $5000 as a result.
Maguire called Ms Berejiklian "Hawkiss", an Armenian term of affection, in the text.
"Hawkiss good news One of my contacts sold a motel for 5.8 million I had put her in contact so I should make 5k," he said.
"Congrats!!! Great news!!! Woohoo" she allegedly responded.
Throughout the intercepted calls Ms Berejiklian repeatedly uses the same term with Maguire.
Ms Berejiklian said she'd always been an independent woman, and was uninterested in Maguire's finances though he was "obsessed" with his own money situation.
"I would never ever turn a blind eye on any responsibility I had to disclose any wrongdoing I saw," she said.
The Premier's former chief of staff, Sarah Cruickshank, on Friday told the ICAC she had helped intervene to stop Maguire from gatecrashing a minister's first visit to China in 2017.
Ms Berejiklian told the ICAC she recalled then Minister Niall Blair wasn't happy about Maguire's plan to go to China and she had directed Maguire to always go through her office for such requests.
In an intercepted phone call Maguire tells Ms Berejiklian he may need to go to China to help a business in Leeton, which was outside his electorate, that had "20 jobs on the line".
He told Ms Berejiklian, in an intercepted call, bureaucrats were just "shaking hands and sucking people's dicks" rather than making the progress he wanted.
Ms Berejiklian said everyone was told to use "the front door" or proper processes and Maguire's rejection from the trip was proof of that.
"I asked him to go through the proper process. You've got to go through the proper process," she said.
She agreed it was a good example of the "compartmentalisation" of her private and public life.
Under repeated questioning about their relationship Ms Berejiklian said she didn't concern herself with Maguire's financial position.
"I don't know if anything he said to me was truthful," she said.
Ms Berejiklian is not accused of wrongdoing.
The inquiry has heard Maguire allegedly put another developer, Joseph Alha, in direct contact with the Premier so he could allegedly lobby for his investments.
Mr Alha, last week, told the ICAC Maguire and he got "tipsy" at NSW Parliament House and wandered into Ms Berejiklian's office.
That evidence came after intercepted phone calls revealed Mr Alha pushing Maguire to set up a meeting with the premier and Planning Minister Anthony Roberts regarding his stalling south west Sydney development.
In the minutes before Mr Alha "bumped into" Ms Berejiklian he allegedly had drinks with Mr Roberts' chief of staff in Maguire's office.
Labor leader Jodi McKay took to social media over the weekend to draw attention to the Premier's appearance saying questions were piling up about Ms Berejiklian's interactions with developers.
Ms Berejiklian, late last week, declined to offer details on the interactions but said she was pleased to assist the ICAC.
The ICAC has previously heard Maguire was allegedly working, while in office, to build business ties in China for G8wayinternational - a private company for which he was shadow director.
Ms Berejiklian is not the first premier to front the ICAC.
Liberal premier Nick Greiner, who established the commission in the late 1980s, was ironically the ICAC's first major scalp in 1992.
He had been found to be "technically corrupt" after getting a job for former education minister Terry Metherell and while the Court of Appeal overturned that decision his career was finished.
Decades later, in 2014, Premier Barry O'Farrell fell on the sword after his "memory fail" where he couldn't recall getting a $3000 bottle of grange from Australian Water Holdings executive Nick Di Girolamo.
Ms Berejiklian left ICAC after five hours of being grilled in the stand, including a stint which was not broadcast to the public, just before 3:30pm on Monday.
The Premier was driven away in a white BMW and sat with her head bowed as waiting media stood outside to greet her.
Police were on the scene and used a paddy wagon to block a section of Elizabeth St so Ms Berejiklian's car could pass through without being stopped by traffic.
Maguire will front the ICAC later this week.
Originally published as Defiant Gladys to ride storm despite backbench unrest