Within hours of lockdown orders lifting, Gladys Berejiklian’s elderly Armenian migrant parents Arsha and Krikor held an emotional reunion with their heartbroken, but still smiling, daughter.
Her mother Arsha revealed that after 106 days apart due to her government’s Covid restrictions, the ousted NSW Premier arrived on the doorstep of the red-brick North Ryde home in Sydney’s north-west where she was raised ‘as soon as she was allowed’.
Arsha Berejiklian told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday that while her daughter had initially been ‘heartbroken’ at having to step down while NSW was emerging from the Covid pandemic, she’d come to accept her decision.
‘It was nice to see her,’ a proud Arsha said.
‘She’s mature, she’s okay, and she knows what she’s doing,’
‘She’s very happy and she feels very loved and supported.’
While Gladys has sought comfort from her family in the 10 days since her resignation shocked Australia, the 51-year-old is also steeling herself for the fight to clear her name.
Daily Mail Australia can reveal Ms Berejiklian has assembled a Who’s Who of top lawyers to defend herself against the Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation which ended forced her to end her premiership – headed by Bret Walker, SC, who will be assisted by Sophie Callan, SC.
Gladys Berejiklian’s mother (pictured together) revealed the former premier rushed straight to their family home when lockdown lifted on Monday
Ms Berejiklian had not seen her parents for 106 days in the flesh, and had spoken on occasion about how tough it was for her
Ms Berejiklian will next week be represented by a dream team of legal heavy-hitters led by Bret Walker SC (pictured) – who famously represented Cardinal George Pell against child abuse charges and who costs an estimated $25,000 a day for his services
Mr Walker, who charges an estimated $25,000 a day for his services, is considered to be one of the top barristers in Australia and is the ‘go-to’ silk for high-profile clients with deep pockets. He most recently represented Cardinal George Pell against child abuse charges.
Meanwhile, Ms Callan is best known for prosecuting former Labor ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald over matters arising from ICAC investigations.
But before she faces ICAC’s public hearings next week – with high profile witnesses including Mike Baird – Ms Berejiklian needed to see her parents for the first time since resigning, which happened just days before NSW started to emerge from lockdown.
Ms Berejiklian has previously revealed how tough the city-wide shutdown was for her personally, especially living along and apart from her tightknit family.
‘FaceTime only works for a certain amount of months,’ she said in September.
‘I’m really looking forward to seeing my parents and hanging out with them. They’re both in their 80s.
‘It’s been really hard. Everybody is in a similar situation.’
So it’s no surprise that her first stop – before popping in to her local nail salon or booking a hair appointment – was to see her parents.
‘She is smiling and happy,’ Arsha, who lost her parents in the Armenian genocide of 1915 and spoke only her native language to Gladys until she was five, said.
‘She is very happy and we are proud of her of course. We all love her very much.’
When asked if Gladys would consider a return to politics, Arsha laughed and shook her head: ‘No more! It’s time to relax.
‘She knows what she’s doing… but we don’t like to ask what comes next.’
There is no doubt among loved ones that she will clear her name. Pictured: Gladys with her father
Her elderly Armenian parents, Arsha and Krikor, still live in the North Ryde red-brick home and had waited 106 days for the reunion – a byproduct of the lockdown that Ms Berejiklian has so stoically led her state out of
Ms Berejiklian’s barrister Bret Walker will be in her corner, assisted by Sophie Callan SC (pictured)
And as Ms Berejiklian prepares to defend her name and reputation at the ICAC hearing beginning next week, her mother and neighbours simply hope she’s getting some well deserved rest, with no doubt among loved ones that she will clear her name.
‘She’s the hardest working woman I know… and unfortunately she met the wrong man… but she will bounce back,’ one neighbour said.
‘She truly cared about this state and her job, and I think it’s not even just the locals that love her. Victorians and Queenslanders and people from afar knew how great she was too.’
Ms Berejiklian had initially sought Mr Walker’s advice after being told by the ICAC she would be named as a person of interest in its Operation Keppel inquiry into her ex-boyfriend, ‘dodgy’ ex-Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire.
Mr Walker advised the then-premier she could legally stay in her job while the investigation continued, before she chose to resign on October 1.
Ms Berejiklian’s sister famously revealed she was in a relationship with esteemed barrister Arthur Moses on Instagram earlier this year
Ms Berejiklian (pictured) resigned on October 1 just before the NSW capital was set to emerge from a gruelling four month lockdown
Pictured: A closer look at some of the flowers and cards left for the former premier at her office. Neighbours said she was ‘the hardest worker and kindest person’ they knew
A lot depends on the outcome of the inquiry – with several political allies hoping she will make a run for Federal politics.
Former NSW transport minister Andrew Constance threw his support behind the potential career move after the idea was floated online.
‘If Glad can get cleared up, whatever these issues are, you know, through the public hearing process, I think she’d be unreal,’ he said last week.
‘You couldn’t have a more hard-working, deeply principled, you know, Australian female politician than Gladys Berejiklian.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also indicated he’d support a shift into federal politics.
No matter the outcome of the ICAC investigation, Ms Berejiklian’s supporters say they’ll back her as she makes her next move.
There’s a quiet confidence that this won’t be the end of her professional career.
Her hotshot lawyer Mr Walker appeared for former prime minister Kevin Rudd at the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program and the Finks outlaw motorcycle gang in a challenge to the validity of South Australia’s anti-bikie laws.
Gladys Berejiklian left this heartfelt note to her constituents in her office window after emerging for the first time since her shock resignation over a corruption investigation
As an advocate Mr Walker is known for his meticulous preparation and as a brilliant strategist rather than for courtroom razzle-dazzle or overly flashy performances.
ICAC will probe how millions of dollars worth of taxpayer funds ended up in her disgraced secret lover’s electorate.
Despite the controversy, those who worked with her say she is a ‘genuinely decent person’ who led the state through some of its ‘darkest days’.
News emerged of Ms Bereijiklian’s secret relationship with former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire in March.
The premier was called to answer questions by ICAC who were investigating the disgraced politicians’ dodgy dealings
Mr Maguire had previously been accused of abusing his public office before admitting to being involved in a cash-for-visa scheme and seeking secret commissions for brokering property deals.
The ex-Premier appeared at her Willoughby office days after her resignation which was awash in a sea of flowers and cards voicing support for her
In August it emerged that Ms Berejiklian showed ‘interest’ in a proposed $5.5million grant for a shooting association clubhouse and conference facility in his electorate, despite the proposal being repeatedly knocked back, documents show.
The Australian Clay Target Association funds as well as another grant involving the Riverina Conservatorium of Music, also in Wagga Wagga, will be probed by ICAC when the hearing gets underway later this month.
Ms Berejiklian has denied any wrongdoing and maintains no special treatment was given to the proposals.
She was represented when she appeared before the ICAC last year by Arthur Moses SC; they are now in a relationship and he would therefore no longer act for her.
They’ve managed to keep the budding romance relatively private after her younger sister Mary let the cat out of the bag back in June.
‘She would thrive in any role, she just works that hard,’ a neighbour said. ‘But her life will never be the same again.’
Gladys Berejiklian is pictured with her youngest sister Mary. The AFR recently published an opinion piece saying The Project host Lisa Wilkinson needed to ‘apologise’ to Gladys for her critique of her handling of the Covid-19 pandemic
A man attempts to deliver flowers to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at Parliament House in Sydney. There has been an outpouring of grief since the popular premier stepped down
Why did Gladys Berejiklian resign?
Ms Berejiklian quit on October 1 after the state’s corruption watchdog said it was investigating her.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating whether Ms Berejiklian encouraged or allowed corrupt conduct by her secret ex-boyfriend and former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire between 2012 and 2018.
It will also probe whether she breached public trust by not reporting any suspicion of corrupt conduct and what role she had to play in two government grants handed out in Mr Maguire’s electorate.
The NSW corruption watchdog ICAC is investigating whether Ms Berejiklian encouraged or allowed corrupt conduct by her ex-boyfriend and former MP Daryl Maguire (pictured together)
An ICAC public inquiry on the matter will be held for about 10 days from October 18, overseen by Assistant Commissioner Ruth McColl SC.
Mr Maguire is accused of abusing his public office after admitting being involved in a cash-for-visa scheme and seeking secret commissions for brokering property deals. He was forced to resign in 2018.
In an emotional 10-minute speech on October 1 Ms Berejiklian denied any wrongdoing and slammed the watchdog for announcing its investigation into her as the state emerges from a four-month Covid lockdown.
‘Resigning at this time is against every instinct in my being and something which I do not want to do,’ she said.