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NSW Premier's 'close personal relationship' with corruption probe MP

Politics

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian had a “close personal relationship” with an ex-government MP currently the subject of a probe by the Independent Commission Against Corruption over financial disclosures.

 

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Berejiklian said she had remained in contact with Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire until less than a month ago, a state anti-corruption inquiry has heard.

The Premier gave evidence at an ICAC inquiry today investigating whether Maguire used his position for personal gain.

Berejiklian told the inquiry she was in a close personal relationship with Maguire from around the time of the 2015 state election up until a few months ago.

“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,” Berejiklian told the inquiry.

Berejiklian said their relationship wasn’t generally known among MPs and they sought to keep it private in part because it may have been awkward.

“More substantially, I’m a very private person and I didn’t feel the relationship had sufficient substance for it to be made public,” Berejiklian said.

Berejiklian also admitted Maguire had told her about some of his business interests and she presumed the ex-Wagga Wagga MP had appropriately disclosed them.

Maguire is  accused of using his public office and parliamentary resources to improperly gain a benefit for himself or for G8way International, a company Mr Maguire allegedly “effectively controlled”.

Maguire was forced to quit Berejiklian’s government in 2018 after a separate ICAC inquiry heard evidence he sought payments to help broker deals for property developers.

They last spoke on September 13 – less than a month ago – and Berejiklian ceased communication only after agreeing to attend the ICAC inquiry.

Berejiklian admitted that over the course of their relationship, Mr Maguire frequently spoke of his finances and was “obsessed” by them.

But she denied distancing herself from specific details on Maguire’s affairs in an attempt at self-preservation.

“I would never, ever, ever turn a blind eye from any responsibility that 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,” Berejiklian told the inquiry.

“I would suggest that I was either not interested or I thought what he was raising with me was fanciful. He was a big talker.

“A lot of the time, I would have ignored a lot of what he said as fanciful and information that I didn’t care to be involved in or interested in.”

The premier also said she didn’t take a personal interest in Mr Maguire’s finances, despite their relationship, as she was an “independent woman” with her own finances.

Berejiklian was dragged into the saga last week when the ICAC heard Maguire gave a western Sydney landowner – Louise Waterhouse – Berejiklian’s email address to help her lobby for rezoning changes that would benefit a parcel of land she held.

ICAC heard Maguire passed on the email address and suggested the premier would be able to provide a “tickle from up top”, but Waterhouse said Berejiklian never responded.

The inquiry continues before assistant commissioner Ruth McColl SC.

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