Disgraced former NSW MP Daryl Maguire says he can’t recall exactly what he told his “on-again, off-again” girlfriend—NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian—about a $330 million property deal that was to net him a seven-figure kickback.
The 61-year-old, facing a second day of questioning at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) over the use of his public office for personal profit, admitted to a “close personal relationship” with Berejiklian from about 2015 or 2016.
Asked if he was still with the premier, he told ICAC on Oct. 15 “not after the events of this, I wouldn’t be, no”, saying it ended in August or September.
The commission heard an intercepted phone call in which a property agent tells Maguire he would “look after” the Wagga Wagga MP for helping secure a $330 million property deal in Badgerys Creek, next to the proposed Western Sydney Airport.
“Well, it’s been good for everybody all around, which is excellent,” Maguire replies in the September 2017 call.
About 45 minutes after that call, Maguire was recorded chatting to Berejiklian about how it looked like “we finally got the Badgerys Creek stuff done” and he could get enough to pay off his debts.
Maguire on Oct. 15 said he couldn’t recall telling the premier about the deal in advance of their Sept. 5 call but “you could assume that.”
Scott Robertson, counsel assisting the commission, drew attention to Berejiklian’s reaction, including to the mention of a man referred to by first name only.
“She doesn’t respond by saying ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’ or “who’s Jimmy?” or “what is the Badgerys Creek stuff?’,” Robertson said.
The former parliamentary secretary said he’d inform Berejiklian from time to time “in general terms” about the things he was involved in.
“I don’t know that I ever went into specifics. It was just broad discussion stuff,” he said. Since giving evidence to the commission on Oct. 12, Berejiklian has mounted an impassioned defence of her integrity, saying she never knew about Maguire’s shady dealings.
Berejiklian was treasurer from April 2015 until January 2017, when she assumed the state’s top job.
Maguire’s 19-year parliamentary career ended in disgrace in 2018 after a separate ICAC inquiry uncovered his close relationship with Sydney developers and how he was being offered kickbacks.
The Badgerys Creek property deal centred on Chinese developer Country Garden trying to get its hands on a 233-hectare parcel of land owned by racing heir Louise Raedler-Waterhouse.
Maguire confirmed to ICAC he expected to be “looked after” with a payment up to $1.6 million, which would cover his outstanding debts.
The former MP said Berejiklian was one of the few people with whom he could discuss his debts, in order to get her view.
“We were always good friends,” he said, describing their relationship as “on-again, off-again.”
They also discussed their future, including making their relationship public in the event he left parliament, he told the inquiry.
Maguire on Oct. 14 made multiple frank admissions including using his parliament house office to receive cash commissions from a “cash-for-visa scheme” he conceded involved businesses being willing to lie to immigration officials.
He also confessed to secretly directing G8way International, a firm that earned commissions for linking Chinese buyers with Australian businesses.
Maguire’s evidence is expected to continue on Oct. 16.
By Luke Costin