Australian State Premier Hoped to Go Public About Relationship With Ex-MP

Australian State Premier Hoped to Go Public About Relationship With Ex-MP
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks during a press conference at RFS Headquarters in Sydney, Australia on Oct. 07, 2020. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Premier Gladys Berejiklian encouraged her covert boyfriend Daryl Maguire in a 2017 conversation to quit parliament at the 2019 New South Wales (NSW) election so they could make their relationship public, an anti-corruption inquiry has heard.

But she denied deliberately blinding herself to information about Maguire’s financial interests and attempts to clear his $1.5 million debt—now under the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) spotlight—in order to maintain plausible deniability on the matter.

The ICAC has accused Maguire, the ex-Wagga Wagga MP, of using his public office and parliamentary resources to improperly gain a benefit for himself or for G8way International—a company he 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.

At the time, Berejiklian said she was “pleased and relieved” he resigned.

But on Oct. 12 she said she had a “personal attachment” to Maguire and their relationship, which began in 2015, had been kept under wraps for the sake of privacy.

They last spoke on Sept. 13—less than a month ago—and Berejiklian ended all communication only after agreeing to support the current ICAC inquiry.

Berejiklian admitted to ICAC she spoke with Maguire in 2017 about her desire for the ex-MP to leave parliament so the couple could go public with their relationship.

She believed at the time Maguire had the same desire.

“I did consider what my private life might look like, were that to occur,” Berejiklian said.

Despite this professed wish, she repeatedly insisted she had little knowledge of Maguire’s interests and labelled him a “big talker” who came up with “pie in the sky” schemes and “a lot of the time I would have ignored or disregarded what he said as fanciful and ... I didn’t care to be involved.”

Recordings of phone calls between the pair played on Oct. 12, in which Maguire discusses various business deals, appeared to contradict the premier.

She said she presumed Maguire had appropriately disclosed his interests.

“That was his business, I’m an independent woman with my own finances. I would never, ever consider my position in relation to someone else’s in that regard,” Berejiklian said.

Upon questioning from counsel assisting Scott Robertson, Berejiklian denied distancing herself from specific details on Maguire’s affairs in an attempt at self-preservation.

This includes Berejiklian’s declaration she “didn’t need to know about that” as Maguire discussed in a recorded phone conversation his financial interests at Badgerys Creek Airport, and a deal which would enable him to repay his debts.

She also repeatedly said she had no interest in Maguire’s debts.

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

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.

Berejiklian confirmed on Oct. 12 no action was taken in relation to Waterhouse’s “irregular” email, and it hadn’t been forwarded to another department.

Berejiklian’s ex-chief of staff Sarah Cruikshank last week also declared she ordered Maguire to “cease and desist” as he threatened to fly to China at the same time as an official trade mission over a business deal involving a south NSW dairy.

The inquiry continues.

By Angelo Risso