Gladys Berejiklian, ICAC: Former NSW Premier hits farewell note


Gladys Berejiklian struck a farewell note as she addressed the people of NSW after wrapping up her grilling in front of the corruption watchdog on Monday. 

The former NSW Premier admitted the last month has been ‘extremely difficult’ for her – but she still maintains she did everything in public interest.

‘I just want to say to everybody it’s been my honour and privilege to serve you in my role in public life.

‘What’s occurred to me is a difficult situation but I know many people do it tough in the community.

‘I intend to get on with my life and I just want to thank everybody for my support every day I’ve dealt with the public.

‘Its been my honour and privilege to serve the community.’

 

The corruption inquiry into Gladys Berejiklian’s secret love affair with Daryl Maguire has resumed after moving behind closed doors for a period following a fiery morning where the former Premier was grilled over texts from the disgraced Liberal MP. 

Ms Berejiklian barely gave an inch defending herself on the second day of her evidence to the ICAC inquiry in Sydney on Monday.

At the centre of the evidence heard on Tuesday were SMS messages she received from Mr Maguire in July 2018, demanding she get a second phone and download a Chinese messaging app.  

In July 2018, four days after Mr Maguire called Ms Berejiklian fretting that the ICAC had tapped his phone, he texted the then-Premier inviting her to download the encrypted messaging platform WeChat. 

‘I’m chatting with my friends on WeChat now http://www.wechat.com,’ Mr Maguire texted her.

‘OK I will try, what about WhatsApp, that is easy as well. I will do it tomorrow because I don’t know my password for apps,’ Ms Berejiklian replied.

Mr Maguire then said: ‘You need to get a private phone.’   

Gladys was grilled over text messages between the pair where Daryl Maguire insisted she buy a new phone

Gladys was grilled over text messages between the pair where Daryl Maguire insisted she buy a new phone

Ms Berejiklian told the ICAC that she did not have a second phone, and never sought to get one. 

‘Many of my colleagues had two phones, one private, one business but because I was so busy and was so stressed, I always kept one phone throughout my entire career, I never had to (get a second phone),’ she said. 

‘Many people did and many used to suggest that to me, outside of Mr Maguire, but I never chose to do that.’

Mr Robertson said Mr Maguire sent a further message to her saying: ‘They can read texts but not the little green men. It leaves no trace.’

‘Do you know what Mr Maguire was referring to by the little green men,’ he asks Ms Berejiklian. 

‘No idea,’ she replied.

‘Could be a reference to the WeChat icon which is a green icon?’ Mr Robertson said. 

‘It could have been, I’ve never used that, so I don’t know,’ she replied.  

Ms Berejiklian gave evidence that she was on leave when she discovered the nature of the evidence given by Mr Maguire to a previous ICAC hearing on July 13 2018. 

‘I wasn’t sure what was happening that day. He told me that he hadn’t been involved in any wrongdoing but I could only go by the information conveyed to me by my staff member,’ she said. 

Mr Maguire ‘told me he had not been involved in any wrongdoing, and my staff member conveyed to me that it was a very bad look, that he had been caught up in some people who had likely been, had done some wrongdoing,’ she said.   

‘So there were still investigations as opposed to findings.’ 

Mr Robertson asked ‘Is this at least right, it was apparent to you on or soon after the 13 July 2018 that Mr Maguire was closely associating himself with people who in all likelihood were doing things improperly?’

‘That was a concern that he had been. Obviously, that’s what the evidence showed, he had been associating himself, whether or not he knew what they were up to is another matter but certainly, that was the concern, that he had been caught up with people who were accused of doing wrong things, and that was a major concern,’ Ms Berejiklian replied.

‘But that was your understanding of the position, is this right, when Mr Maguire’s evidence of the 13th of July 2018 came to your notice, namely that amongst other things Mr Maguire was closely associating himself with people who in all likelihood were doing things improperly,’ said Mr Robertson.

‘Yes, that was my concern,’ she replied.

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian (top right) is being questioned by counsel assisting ICAC Scott Robertson (top left) and commissioner Ruth McColl (bottom right)

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian (top right) is being questioned by counsel assisting ICAC Scott Robertson (top left) and commissioner Ruth McColl (bottom right)

‘You are concerned that he was directly involved with those individuals and with people with respect of whom there were shadows cast, is that right,’ asked Mr Robertson. 

‘Concerned that he was definitely in their orbit. To what extent I didn’t know, but at that time, there was, as should be the case, concern,’ Ms Berejiklian replied.  

‘I was absolutely overwhelmed at the shock and grief of what had transpired,’ in ICAC that day, she added. ‘I can’t express what a shock it was to the system.’

She said she spent the days afterwards thinking deeply about what she’d heard. 

‘I didn’t suspect that he’d done anything horrendously wrong.’ 

The former premier recalled a conversation with her chief of staff Sarah Cruickshank on July 13, 2018, where she told her about her close personal relationship with Mr Maguire.

‘(Ms Cruickshank) said, you know, stop having anything more to do with (Mr Maguire). And I did not take that bit of advice, obviously,’ Ms Berejiklian told the ICAC. 

Gladys faces killer question about how she could sack Daryl but not think something was wrong – as she repeatedly says ‘she didn’t know’ 

 ‘To what extent I didn’t know’

 ‘I didn’t know the extent of it’

‘I don’t know what I would have reported’ 

‘I don’t know what I would have said to this body’

‘I certainly did not know of anything’

‘I had no knowledge of that’

‘I didn’t know the extent of what was transpiring’

‘I didn’t know anything which would add to what this commission was looking at’

‘I didn’t know what else was part of that’  

‘I didn’t know any details. I didn’t know anything’

July 13, 2018 was when Mr Maguire appeared before a previous ICAC inquiry.

ICAC commissioner Ruth McColl put it to Ms Berejiklian that she ‘must have realised on 13 July, or soon thereafter, as you had more and more of those conversations with Ms Cruickshank, that the fact of your then relationship with Mr Maguire would have been explosive?’

‘Absolutely,’ Ms Berejiklian replied. ‘That would have happened irrespective of the longevity or anything like that. 

‘That was already going to be the case, because I’d told (Ms Cruikshank) about the closeness of the relationship.’

Ms McColl asked: ‘If it was an historic relationship which had preceded the time you were premier, that also preceded the time Ms Cruickshank was your chief of staff, did it not?’

‘Yes,’ replied Ms Berejiklian. 

‘And did you not have a discussion with Ms Cruickshank about whether or not there was anything in relation to the period that you had been premier that you needed to disclose having regard to that relationship,’ said Ms McColl. 

‘I can’t remember the exact – all the details of our conversation. But I made it known that I was close to him, it was off-again, on-again, and I tried to convey as much as I could … That was what I remember telling her.’ 

Ms Berejiklian said as premier she was extremely busy. ‘And I remember two things. I obviously divulged my closeness to Mr Maguire. And, secondly, my strong, strong view that I had nothing to report.’

Mr Robertson put it to Ms Berejiklian that she ‘would have to accept that the question of whether the relationship was ongoing or historical, in the sense of being before you were premier, was apt to have a very significant impact on the level of political – to use the commissioner’s terms – ‘explosiveness’ of any information about your relationship. You’d agree with that, wouldn’t you?’ 

‘No, I don’t accept that,’ the former premier replied. ‘The whole debate during these hearings, Mr Robertson, has been for the significance of the relationship and what I felt about it.  And I don’t think those matters would have made a difference.’

Earlier, Ms Berejiklian said ‘I knew in my heart that I had never, ever, ever done anything wrong. 

‘In fact, anyone who has worked with me or knows me knows I’m not capable of that. Absolutely. But if I had any suspicion whatsoever that I knew anything or suspected anything (about Mr Maguire), of course I would not have hesitated (to tell ICAC about it), she said. 

As proceedings opened, the former NSW premier tried to turn the tables on Scott Robertson, the counsel assisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Monday morning, but Ms Berejiklian was quickly scolded by Ms McColl for ‘looking around corners’. 

‘But you are suggesting that I assumed any wrongdoing on (Mr Maguire’s) part,’ said Ms Berejiklian. 

‘I didn’t use the word wrongdoing,’ said Mr Robertson. 

‘But you are trying to, you’re asking me to answer a question which would assume that I presumed or had any knowledge of wrongdoing and the straight answer is I had no assumption, no knowledge that there was any wrongdoing involved,’ she said.

‘Ms Berejiklian, it would be better than if you answer the question rather than looking around corners,’ said Ms McColl. 

Transcript of phone call between Gladys Berejiklian and her then lover Daryl Maguire, which was intercepted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption

Transcript of phone call between Gladys Berejiklian and her then lover Daryl Maguire, which was intercepted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption

The transcript of an intercepted phone call on July 5, 2018 recorded Mr Maguire telling Ms Berejiklian that he had been summonsed as a witness to a previous inquiry. 

When Mr Maguire starts to explain the details, saying ‘I think that Hawatt was to benefit from the skullduggery he was getting up to’, she interrupts him, saying ‘Don’t, don’t talk … I don’t, I don’t want to know any of that stuff.’

Earlier, Ms Berejiklian told ICAC counsel Mr Robertson of Mr Maguire: ‘I pressed him a number of times and he said he’d done nothing wrong.’

She also said she took Mr Maguire ‘at this word’.  

Former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured left) arrives at the Independent Commission Against Corruption on November 1 with one of her barristers, Sophie Callan (pictured right)

Former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured left) arrives at the Independent Commission Against Corruption on November 1 with one of her barristers, Sophie Callan (pictured right)

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured left) arrives at the ICAC on November 1, in Sydney, Australia. One of her barristers, Sophie Callan, is pictured on the right

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured left) arrives at the ICAC on November 1, in Sydney, Australia. One of her barristers, Sophie Callan, is pictured on the right

Mr Robertson pressed Ms Berejiklian on whether she had any suspicions about Mr Maguire at this point in time.

In a tapped phone call from 2017, Mr Maguire told her he believed he might be able to secure a $1.5 million payment in relation to a land deal around the Badgerys Creek airport site in western Sydney.

‘I didn’t believe it would eventuate. I don’t even think I was paying attention,’ Ms Berejiklian said.

She said she had ‘no appreciation or understanding of what he was up to’ and just because Mr Maguire said certain things to her didn’t mean she ‘absorbed’ it.

‘Whether or not I listened or cared is another matter,’ she said. ‘I did not assume any wrongdoing.’

Ms Berejiklian added that ‘My radar didn’t go up.’ 

Gladys Berejiklian is seen on Sydney's north shore before her ICAC hearing on Monday

Gladys Berejiklian is seen on Sydney’s north shore before her ICAC hearing on Monday

In a phone tap played to the ICAC, Ms Berejiklian told Mr Maguire she had secured $170 million for Wagga Wagga Base Hospital ‘in five minutes’ and said the then state Treasurer and now Premier Dominic Perrottet did what she asked him to.  

Channel Seven’s Sunrise program asked Mr Perrottet about that this morning.

‘Your predecessor Gladys Berejiklian of course has given evidence at the ICAC inquiry. In exchange between her and Daryl Maguire she said, ‘Dom does whatever I tell him to.’ Were those comments a surprise to you,’ asked host Natalie Barr.

‘Not at all. Gladys and I have a great relationship. As Premier and treasurer you work very closely together,’ Mr Perrottet said. 

He said he didn’t want to ‘give a running commentary on the ICAC’ but ‘the strange thing … was that the funding had been in the budget the year before’.

‘So we have got a significant investment in healthcare facilities right across the state, Wagga Wagga is an important hospital the NSW government has been investing in.’

ICAC counsel Scott Robertson (pictured left) is questioning former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian (right) at ICAC on Monday

ICAC counsel Scott Robertson (pictured left) is questioning former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian (right) at ICAC on Monday

Opening proceedings on Friday, ICAC counsel assisting Scott Robertson began with a killer question about her secret lover, Daryl Maguire.

‘If you were able to have your time again would you disclose your close personal relationship with Mr Maguire?’ Mr Robertson asked.

Ms Berejiklian responded she didn’t feel it was a commitment she could share with her parents, Arsha and Krikor, or her sisters.

‘I didn’t feel there was a sufficient significance to be able to do that in terms of significance.’

Ms Berejiklian said that she did not ask Mr Maguire for the key to her house that she had given to him back. 

Mr Robertson asked Ms Berejiklian why she supported a multimillion-dollar proposal for the state government to pay for an upgrade of the Australian Clay Target Association (ACTA) gun club when Treasury said the submission did not demonstrate a net benefit to the state.

ACTA is based in Wagga Wagga and the project was strongly supported by her then secret boyfriend Mr Maguire.

At the time of the proposal in December 2016 Ms Berejiklian was NSW treasurer and chair of the government’s expenditure review committee (ERC).

‘The bush was on fire in terms of their attitude to the government,’ Ms Berejiklian said. ‘We’d just lost a seat to the Shooters Party.’

Daryl Maguire (pictured) gave evidence to ICAC last Thursday

Daryl Maguire (pictured) gave evidence to ICAC last Thursday

Her view was that supporting the gun club proposal project would have ‘kept a portion of the community pleased’ and the government was keen to show it wasn’t ignoring the bush.

Asked if her support for the proposal could have been influenced by her relationship with Mr Maguire, Ms Berejiklian said: ‘It could have been part of the consideration but the … strongest consideration was the consequence of the Orange by-election.’

In a testy exchange that set the tone for the day on Friday, Mr Robertson asked Ms Berejiklian about her understanding of the proceedings.

‘Are you having some difficulty with my questions? I am trying to frame them in a precise way as well so you can answer them yes or no.

Gladys Berejiklian began giving evidence to ICAC on Friday

Gladys Berejiklian began giving evidence to ICAC on Friday

‘Are you having some difficulty understanding my questions,’ he asked.

Ms Berejiklian replied: ‘Mr Robertson, I’m just concerned that you are skewing the fact that all of my colleagues rightfully deserve my attention and my advocacy and my support for things that mattered in their communities.’

‘Skewing or not, you understand that your role as a witness is to direct yourself to the questions that are being asked, you understand that?’ Mr Robertson responded.

‘Yes, I do,’ she replied.

‘You have senior counsel to represent you who have an opportunity to ask for clarification. You understand that, don’t you?’

‘I do, yes.’



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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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