New South Wales (NSW) Premier Gladys Berejiklian has resigned after the state’s anti-corruption watchdog announced an investigation into her relationship with a former member of Parliament who is suspected of corruption.
“I was advised late yesterday afternoon, the Independent Commission Against Corruption will today, release a public statement in which it stated is investigating allegations made about me concerning matters relating to the former member for Wagga Wagga,” she told reporters on Oct. 1.
“It is clear from the ICAC statement the issues which it is investigating are historic matters that have already been the subject of numerous attacks on me by political opponents in the last 12 months,” she added.
“I have made it clear on numerous occasions that if any of my ministers were the subject of allegations being investigated by an integrity agency or law enforcement, then he or she should stand aside during the course of the investigation until their name was cleared.
“The reason for my stance was not to have made any presumptions, as to their conduct, but rather to maintain the integrity of the public office … standing aside is not an option for me as the Premier of New South Wales, the people of this state need certainty as to who their leader is during the challenging times of the pandemic,” she said.
Berejiklian will leave the state’s Parliament as soon as a by-election can be held for her seat of Willoughby covering north Sydney and will remain premier until a successor is appointed.
On Oct. 1, ICAC announced it would investigate whether the premier “exercised public functions” in conflict with her secret, five-year private relationship with Daryl Maguire, which was made public in late 2020.
Maguire is accused of abusing public officer while serving between 2012 to 2018 as a state member of Parliament.
He is accused of using his public office and parliamentary resources to gain benefits for himself or a company he “effectively controlled,” G8way International.
He was forced to quit in 2018 after a separate ICAC inquiry heard evidence he sought payments to help broker deals for property developers.
A public inquiry into Berejiklian will be held from Oct. 18 and overseen by Assistant Commissioner Ruth McColl S.C., it is expected to last 10 days.
The Commission said the premier would be investigated specifically over funding grants to the Australian Clay Target Association in 2016-17, and the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga in 2018.
It will examine whether her relationship with Macguire, a member of Parliament at the time, influenced those arrangements and constitute a breach of public trust.
Further, it will look into whether Berejiklian should have “suspected on reasonable grounds” that Maguire may have engaged in corrupt conduct and whether she was “liable to allow or encourage” this conduct.