NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian revealed during Monday’s ICAC hearing that she had been in a “close personal relationship” with Daryl Maguire, something that was unknown publicly until yesterday.
The ex-Wagga MP has been the subject of a corruption inquiry over the last three weeks investigating whether he used his position for personal gain.
Since the inquiry began, the Commission has heard shocking allegations that Mr Maguire was involved in a cash-for-visa “scam”, used his Parliament offices to chase commissions on investment deals, and that he pressured government agencies in order to pursue his friend’s business interests.
On Monday, the Premier appeared before the Commission and revealed that she had a close personal relationship with Mr Maguire from around the time of the 2015 state election up until just a few months ago.
“I would like to say at the outset that Mr Maguire was a colleague of 15 years, he was someone that I trusted … and that developed into a close personal relationship,” Ms Berejiklian said.
She said the relationship, which the pair sought to keep private and generally wasn’t known amongst MPs, ended when she was asked to support the ICAC inquiry.
“When I was asked to support this inquiry it became apparent to me that I should have absolutely no contact anymore and I ceased all contact,” Ms Berejiklian said.
The Premier said that she is a “very private person” and didn’t feel the relationship had “sufficient substance” to be made public, although if Mr Maguire had resigned from Parliament, she may have considered making it public.
Throughout the ICAC hearing, old email and text message exchanges between Mr Maguire and Ms Berejiklian were tendered, and private phone conversations between the two were broadcast.
One private phone call was intercepted from August 2017, however it was not played publicly. The ICAC broadcast resumed afterwards, and the counsel assisting questioned the Premier in regards to what had been said.
Ms Berejiklian admitted that she and Mr Maguire were discussing their future, and there was a potential plan that Mr Maguire would resign from Parliament at the 2019 election with the view of having a public relationship.
“Clearly that was something that I would not have been upset if that occurred, I would have been pleased if it occurred,” Ms Berejiklian said when questioned.
Ms Berejiklian also admitted to telling Mr Maguire “you will always be my numero uno” in regards to their personal relationship.
Counsel assisting Scott Robertson asked the Premier if she was aware of “any instance in which Mr Maguire sought or obtained a commission or other payment”, and she responded that she wasn’t aware of any specific details.
“I wasn’t aware of any specific details but I was aware he had those arrangements and I assumed he disclosed them at the appropriate time,” Ms Berejiklian said.
The Premier maintained that she never believed Mr Maguire might be attempting to use his position to promote his own, or others’, business activities.
“Can I say, I would never, ever, never, ever turned a blind eye from any responsibility I had to disclose any wrongdoing that I saw, or any activity that I thought was not in keeping with what a member of Parliament should be doing and I want to make that very clear,” Ms Berejiklian told the Commission.
In an intercepted phone call, Ms Berejiklian was allegedly told by Mr Maguire that he stood to make “enough money to pay off his debt” in the proposed sale of the Waterhouse’s Smart Western Sydney site near Badgerys Creek.
Around this time, Mr Maguire’s estimated personal debt was $1.5 million.
When questioned about this conversation, Ms Berejiklian said “it was a very general conversation, I wouldn’t have given it much thought.”
Additionally, when asked if she was aware Mr Maguire was involved in Badgerys Creek activities, she replied “I’m not certain that it registered with me.”
“I did not know or exactly understand what he was talking about,” she said.
“It would be quite fanciful to think you could pull something off like that.”
In an intercepted phone call between Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire, Mr Maguire told her: “William tells me we’ve done our deal, so hopefully that’s about half of all that gone” in regards to the Badgerys Creek activities. Ms Berejiklian responded “I don’t need to know about that bit,” and Mr Maguire replied, “No you don’t. You do not. Anyway so it’s all good news, we’re moving ahead.”
The counsel assisting asked whether she was trying to limit her exposure to Mr Maguire’s dealings. Ms Berejiklian maintained that she would have “no compunction” in reporting any wrongdoings of Mr Maguire if they were apparent to her.
“I always assumed…that he was making full disclosures when he needed to,” she said.
“I had nothing to note that was of concern, I did not feel that I had to in any way be concerned about any of that activity because as far as I understood at the time…I trusted him at the time, I assumed he was making the appropriate disclosures.”
Ms Berejiklian had previously told the Commission that she attempted to compartmentalise her relationship with Mr Maguire and keep it separate from her public duties.
She rejected the suggestion that she would have benefited from Mr Maguire being in a better financial position.
“I’m an independent woman who is proud of her independence and anybody else’s finances would be completely immaterial to me,” Ms Berejiklian said.