Peter Dutton has declared that Gladys Berejiklian is ‘not corrupt’ – one day after the NSW ICAC found she had committed ‘serious corrupt conduct’.
The corruption watchdog delivered its findings against the former NSW Premier and her ex-lover, former Liberal MP for Wagga Wagga Daryl Maguire, on Thursday.
ICAC said ‘Ms Berejiklian engaged in serious corrupt conduct by breaching public trust in 2016 and 2017 through exercising her official functions in relation to funding promised and/or awarded’.
The Federal Opposition Leader and fellow Liberal told the Nine Network on Friday: ‘She’s just a very decent person. She chose a bum basically, and he was a bad guy.
‘I think that she has, you know, paid a big price for that and her integrity is not in question.
‘She’s not a corrupt person. That’s not the person I know.’
Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton jumped to Gladys Berejiklian’s defence on Friday. Above, with his wife Kirilly
Gladys Berejiklian was found to have engaged in serious corrupt conduct by the ICAC on Thursday
ICAC contended that Ms Berejiklian’s corruption involved her support for funding a gun club in Mr Maguire’s electorate and $20million in funds reserved for the Riverina Conservatorium of Music, also in his electorate.
The 300-seat music conservatorium, announced in August 2018 when Ms Berejiklian was in a secret relationship with Mr Maguire, did not go ahead because the business case didn’t stack up.
Gladys Berejiklian is pictured with Daryl Maguire (behind) with whom she was in a secret relationship for years – and who has brought her down
Bombshell phone intercepts from the ICAC report showed Ms Berejiklian’s secret boyfriend told her, ‘I am the boss, even when you’re the Premier’ – to which she bizarrely agreed.
Ms Berejiklian argued her responses agreeing Mr Maguire was ‘the boss’ in their relationship, and other similar comments, were just her way of ‘appeasing an insecure man to make him feel better about himself’.
In evidence that was not previously made public, ICAC revealed details of a telephone intercept between Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire on February 14, 2018, in which she twice agreed with him when he said ‘I am the boss’.
BEREJIKLIAN: ‘That’s what I mean I forget that I’m meant to be with you know, technically the Premier so, you know. I get that.
MAGUIRE: ‘Hmm anyway.’
BEREJIKLIAN: ‘Because you know what I tell you why because normally you’re the boss and it’s hard when we have to switch it around that’s the truth. ‘
MAGUIRE: ‘Yeah but I am the boss, even when you’re the Premier.’
BEREJIKLIAN: ‘I know. So therefore it’s hard when I had to switch it around.’
MAGUIRE: ‘Glad even when you are the Premier I am the boss alright.
BEREJIKLIAN: ‘Yes I know’.
But Ms Berejiklian said her showing concern over Mr Maguire’s insecurities and seeking to placate him was unremarkable.
‘She contended that her “banal reassurances in this conversation” were a world away from evidence that she would exercise her public functions with partiality, alive to Mr Maguire’s insecurities and/or in a manner calculated to placate him and that the exchange was easily recognisable as an instance of a woman appeasing an insecure man to make him feel better about himself.’ the ICAC report said.
‘It did not reflect her sincere sentiments.’
In a text exchange dated to April 12, 2018, Ms Berejiklian appeared to tell Mr Maguire she couldn’t do her job without him:
MAGUIRE: I am busy killing mmc you do your job and lead the state.
BEREJIKLIAN: I can’t without you.
MAGUIRE: I am your biggest supporter! Got your back go and do your job.
BEREJIKLIAN: But you are my family.
Texts sent between Gladys Berejiklian and Daryl Maguire
The ICAC previously heard text message evidence that Mr Maguire used an Armenian term of affection, describing her as ‘hawkiss’ when he had good news to share.
Mr Maguire: ‘Hawkiss good news One of my contacts sold a motel for 5.8 million I had put her in contact so I should make 5k.’
Ms Berejiklian: ‘Congrats!!! Great news!!! Woohoo.’
The duo’s relationship had progressed to such a point that they both referred to Ms Berejiklian’s Sydney address as ‘home’.
Text messages between the pair revealed they were engaged in ‘mundane domestic arrangements, such as requests to pick up bread and things to eat on the way “home”‘.
While Ms Berejiklian said she believed the relationship began sometime in 2015, the commission found messages consistent with ‘physical and emotional intimacy’ from as early as early 2014.
The report stated: ‘The messages are replete with terms of endearment, the use of pet names and other indications of mutual affection and love. They include discussions about marriage and the possibility of having a child together.’
‘Failure to disclose relationship’
Ms Berejiklian’s failure to disclose her relationship with Mr Maguire during an expenditure review process, despite supporting the grant proposal, was slammed by ICAC as conflicted.
A proposal to the NSW government’s Cabinet sought $5.5million for the Australian Clay Target Association (ACTA) to develop a large clubhouse and conference facility in Wagga Wagga.
Berejiklian’s former boyfriend Daryl Maguire is pictured firing a gun
‘It’s to be known as the Maguire International Shooting Centre of Excellence,’ a document related to it joked.
ICAC found that ‘the evidence is compelling that Ms Berejiklian deliberately failed to disclose her personal relationship with Mr Maguire in circumstances where there was a real possibility of conflict between her public duty and her private interest in relation to her exercise of her official functions associated with proposals for government action that she knew were advanced by Mr Maguire, such as the ACTA proposal.
‘The Commission rejects Ms Berejiklian’s submission that she did not know, nor was she reckless as to, her obligation to disclose her relationship with Mr Maguire under the conflict regime.
‘In the Commission’s view, Ms Berejiklian’s failure to disclose her relationship with Mr Maguire in relation to the decisions she made concerning the ACTA proposal cannot be put down to an honest error of judgment.’
‘Seriously corrupt’, but no charges
Despite the extraordinary finding, the ICAC does not believe the former premier should be prosecuted, though, saying: ‘The Commission is not of the opinion that consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the [Director of Public Prosecutions] with respect to the prosecution of Ms Berejiklian for any offence.’
But it said ‘consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the DPP about the prosecution of Mr Maguire’ and two of his business associates.
ICAC found that Mr Maguire improperly used his office and the resources he had access as an MP between 2012 and August 2018.
He did so to benefit G8wayInternational Pty Ltd, it found, ‘a company of which he was in substance a director and whose profits he had an arrangement to share with others’.
During its investigation of Mr Maguire, ICAC became aware of the relationship between him and Ms Berejiklian.
The corruption involved Ms Berejiklian’s support for gun club (pictured) funding in Mr Maguire’s electorate
$20million in funding was reserved for the Riverina Conservatorium of Music (pictured), but it did not go ahead because the business case didn’t stack up
‘The investigation revealed them discussing aspects of Mr Maguire’s conduct that the Commission was investigating and Ms Berejiklian’s participation in grant decisions favouring projects in his electorate,’ it said.
As the investigation continued, the ICAC found that ‘her acts and omissions gave rise to questions as to whether she had: seriously misused her public offices; breached the NSW Ministerial Code of Conduct …
‘Failed to exercise her duty under section 11 of the ICAC Act to report any matter that she suspected on reasonable grounds concerned, or may concern, corrupt conduct in relation to the conduct of Mr Maguire …
‘And engaged in conduct that was liable to allow or encourage the occurrence of corrupt conduct by Mr Maguire such as could constitute serious corrupt conduct within the meaning of the ICAC Act.’
How Gladys Berejiklian’s boyfriend, barrister Arthur Moses, reacted
Gladys Berejiklian’s boyfriend Arthur Moses was at work in the NSW Supreme Court when ICAC branded his girlfriend corrupt in their damning report.
The high-flying barrister was representing Network Ten in their legal action against former political editor Peter van Onselen after 9am, just as the corruption watchdog’s report was published.
He ducked out of pre-hearing discussions, telling colleagues he had to ‘make a call’ moments after ICAC released its report making findings of ‘serious corrupt conduct’ against Ms Berejiklian, over her ‘secret lovers’ relationship with her ex, Daryl Maguire.
When he returned to courtroom 7D 15 minutes later, one colleague asked Mr Moses if he was alright and put a supportive arm around him.
Mr Moses replied he was fine and returned to the case shortly after, making his opening address to the court without any mention of his girlfriend’s plight.
Ms Berejiklian (pictured right) and her barrister boyfriend Arthur Moses (left) were pictured hand-in-hand taking an early morning stroll last weekend
Premier Chris Minns said though the ‘report has taken way too long … nothing in this report takes away from Premier Berejiklian’s handling of the Covid emergency which I still regard as being excellent’.
He added that ‘It is important however for all politicians in NSW and anyone in public life or positions of leadership to understand we must manage conflicts of interest and declare them.
‘That has been a fundamental principle since the foundation of the NSW Parliament. It remains the case today and my government takes that warning incredibly seriously.’
NSW Premier Chris Minns (pictured on Thursday) said the ICAC ‘report has taken way too long’
The Premier said the Labor government will ‘work with parties across the political spectrum about ensuring that if there are appropriate and reasonable steps to strengthen the ICAC … we are open to looking at that.’
Despite the finding of corrupt behaviour, former NSW treasurer Matt Kean defended Ms Berjiklian, posting on Twitter that has taken ICAC two years ‘to tell us that Gladys Berejiklian has not broken the law’.
Mr Kean also said Thursday morning’s proceeding were ‘a ridiculous display – ICAC turning a corruption report into a live TV event at Parliament House.
‘This body deciding that “serious corrupt conduct” has occurred, but then recommending no charges be laid because there is no evidence?’
Ms Berejiklian’s former Liberal colleague Matt Kean defended her on Twitter (pictured)
Lewis Rangott (Executive Director, Corruption Prevention Division ICAC) is pictured right as he arrives at NSW Parliament House NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw
The Commission slammed some of Ms Berejiklian’s evidence and the attitude she took during public the hearings.
At one point, she dismissed a submission that her relationship with Mr Maguire could have influenced her for ‘the simple, completely legitimate and entirely human reason that people tend to wish to please and to seek to avoid disappointing the expectations or desires of people who they love’.
She said the submission was ‘puerile’, but ICAC said her use of that was ‘both supercilious and unworldly’.
It also described Ms Berejiklian as an ‘unsatisfactory witness in many respects.
‘Some of that may be explicable on the basis of the period of time over which the evidence ranged, and a tendency to view the witness box as more like a husting than a place from which to respond directly to the question,’ the report found.
The former premier refused to answer questions on Thursday morning as the commission that exposed her secret love life at the peak of her popularity was about to deliver its report into her relationship with Mr Maguire.
She left her home in a car clutching a $5,500 Prada bag on a historic day for her and Australian politics.
ICAC tabled the long-awaited report in the NSW parliament on Thursday morning, more than 600 days after public hearings ended.
It investigated whether Ms Berejiklian breached public trust by failing to disclose her long-time personal relationship with then-MP Daryl Maguire while treasurer and premier.
That clandestine relationship became publicly known 990 days ago, when Ms Berejiklian admitted it in October 2020 in an ICAC hearing.
The commission’s inquiry began as an investigation into possible corrupt conduct by Mr Maguire but expanded to Ms Berejiklian after she was compelled to reveal the relationship in public hearings in 2020.
She denied wrongdoing and retained office, only to step down when ICAC in late-2021 began investigating her conduct.
Even after the relationship was exposed, Ms Berejiklian had widespread public support, with net approval ratings of more than 35 per cent.
THE ICAC FINDINGS AGAINST GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN
The Commission finds that Ms Berejiklian engaged in serious corrupt conduct by:
1. CLAY TARGET ASSOCIATION FUNDING: In 2016 and 2017, breaching public trust by exercising her official functions in relation to funding promised and/or awarded to the Australian Clay Target Association (ACTA) without disclosing her close personal relationship with Mr Maguire when she was in a position of a conflict of interest between her public duty and her private interest which could objectively have the potential to influence the performance of her public duty.
Her conduct comprised:
* causing the ACTA proposal to be included on the agenda for the Expenditure Review Committee (ERC) meeting of 14 December 2016
* supporting the ACTA proposal in the ERC meeting of 14 December 2016
* communicating her support for and interest in the ACTA proposal to NSW Treasury staff, at least one ministerial colleague (John Barilaro) and staff within her office
* causing steps to be taken by staff from her office to follow up on the progress of the ACTA proposal following the ERC ACTA decision, including by communicating a request that the initial benefit cost ratio calculation of 0.88 by the Department of Premier and Cabinet Investment Appraisal Unit be revisitedin 2016 and 2017, partially exercising her official functions in connection with funding promised and awarded to ACTA by exercising her official functions influenced by the existence of her close personal relationship with Mr Maguire and by a desire on her partto maintain or advance that relationship (chapter 11)
2. RIVERINA CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC: in 2018, breaching public trust by exercising her official functions in relation to decisions concerning the Riverina Conservatorium of Music (“the RCM”) proposal which she knew was advanced by Mr Maguire in:
* participating in the 12 April 2018 ERC decision concerning RCM Stage 1 in relation to the transfer of land at 1 Simmons Street, Wagga Wagga, to provide a site for the RCM
* participating in the 24 April 2018 ERC decision concerning RCM Stage 1 in relation to the funding granted to RCM Stage 1
* determining to make a funding reservation of $20 million in relation to RCM
* approving the letter arranging for that funding reservation to be made without disclosing her close personal relationship with Mr Maguire, when she was in a position of a conflict of interest between her public duty and her private interest in maintaining or advancing her close personal relationship with Mr Maguire, which could objectively have the potential to influence the performance of her public duty
* in 2018, in connection with funding promised and awarded to RCM Stage 2 engaging in conduct constituting or involving the partial exercise of her official functions influenced by the existence of her close personal relationship with Mr Maguire, or by a desire on her part to maintain or advance that relationship (chapter 12)
* refusing to discharge her duty under s 11 of the ICAC Act to notify the Commission of her suspicion that Mr Maguire had engaged in activities which concerned, or might have concerned, corrupt conduct (chapter 13).
After quitting office in October 2021, she turned down an opportunity to run for federal parliament and moved into the private sector as an Optus executive.
But Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson believes she must now resign her executive job.
‘I think … she’ll resign. I’ll be very surprised if Optus kept her on. There’s no joy for Gladys no matter which direction she looks. And I think that’s really sad.
‘I think Gladys Berejiklian has hit a dead end,’ Mr Richardson said.
Her employer, though, is sticking by her, at least for the moment.
‘Optus acknowledges the ICAC report published in relation to Gladys Berejiklian’s time serving as a member of the NSW parliament,’ the telco said in a very brief comment on Thursday afternoon.
A former counsel assisting ICAC, though, said he was ‘surprised’ by findings against the ex-premier.
Geoffrey Watson, who is now the director of the Centre for Public Integrity, told the ABC he was ‘a little bit surprised’.
‘They are very strong findings. The factual findings are really very strongly worded, highly adverse. Obviously, mainly against Daryl Maguire. I am more surprised so far in respect of Gladys Berejiklian.
‘On the other hand, from my reading of the report, there are really very careful factual findings based upon more than just merely Ms Berejiklian’s evidence which justify the findings, which have been made about serious corrupt conduct,’ he said.
Delays in the release of the ICAC report into Ms Berejiklian and Ms Maguire have been criticised.
The commission has said delays were caused by complex legal issues and the vast volume of submissions it had to scrutinise.
It repeatedly asked for extensions and more funding to complete its investigations.
Her date with ICAC destiny seemed far from Ms Berejiklian’s mind as she was pictured touching up her makeup at a cafe table last Saturday
The couple wore matching dark caps and designer sunglasses. Mr Moses is pictured left and Ms Berejiklian is pictured right
The NSW Labor government on Wednesday backed a parliamentary committee’s call for ICAC to set deadlines for future investigations and measure its performance against them.
‘(The changes) will increase transparency and public accountability of the ICAC’s reporting functions without imposing inflexible restrictions on the ICAC,’ the government said.
On Thursday, the state Opposition leader Mark Speakman and shadow attorney-general Alister Henskens released a joint statement, which also addressed the time it took for ICAC to report.
‘The delays in providing a report have been unacceptable and should not be allowed to occur again,’ they said.
‘Our community deserves a timelier resolution of investigations undertaken by ICAC, especially when they concern the senior leadership of our state.’
ICAC investigated whether ex-premier Gladys Berejiklian…
1. Engaged in conduct between 2012 and 2018 that was ‘liable to allow or encourage the occurrence of corrupt conduct’ by former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire, with whom she was in a close personal relationship between 2015 and 2018
2. Exercised her official functions dishonestly or partially by refusing to exercise her duty to report any reasonable suspicions about Mr Maguire to the ICAC
3. Exercised any of her official functions partially in connection with two multimillion-dollar grants in Mr Maguire’s electorate, to the Australian Clay Target Association Inc and the Riverina Conservatorium of Music.
While seated at a cafe on Sydney’s leafy north shore, Mr Moses at one point reached over the couple’s food as Ms Berejiklian checked her phone
Who is Daryl Maguire and what was his relationship with former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian?
Daryl Maguire, 64, is a former Liberal MP who represented Wagga Wagga in the NSW Parliament from 1999 to 2018.
In July 2018, he was drawn into the Operation Dasha inquiry by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) regarding possible corruption involving Canterbury Council through his association with former councillor Michael Hawatt.
Mr Maguire resigned from the Liberal Party and from his official roles, but initially refusing to resign from parliament.
But after pressure from many quarters, including then premier Gladys Berejiklian, he relented and resign on August 3.
Appearing before ICAC inquiry in October 2020, Ms Berejiklian agreed she had been in a ‘close personal relationship’ with Mr Maguire from 2015 until August 2020.
She survived that revelation, but a year later resigned as premier and as an MP when she herself came under ICAC’s spotlight.
On Friday, October 29, 2021, Ms Berejiklian had this to say about Mr Maguire: ‘I regarded him a part of my love circle, part of people that I strongly cared for, but I wouldn’t have put him in the same category as my parents or my sisters.
‘I had very strong feelings for him … But I didn’t feel the relationship was at a stage where I would introduce him necessarily to my parents or my sisters or need to declare it, but I don’t want to underscore what I felt.’