Gladys Berejiklian has shared a rare insight into her personal and work life and how relations with other state and territory leaders deteriorated during the coronavirus pandemic.
The usually-private New South Wales Premier has candidly opened up about her strong work ethic, the fallout from a secret relationship with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire, her response to the state’s coronavirus crisis and why she’ll never make the move to Canberra.
While many decisions and comments regarding the pandemic made come under heavy fire from other state and territory leaders, Ms Berejiklian makes no apologies in a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Australian Financial Review Magazine.
Staff and colleagues also shared an eye-opening insight into Premier’s world, where one staffer described his boss as ‘methodical’ and said 2am text messages from her aren’t uncommon.
Gladys Berejiklian has shared a rare insight into her personal and work life and how relations with other state and territory leaders deteriorated during the coronavirus pandemic
The usually-private New South Wales Premier has candidly opened up about her strong work ethic, the fallout from a secret relationship with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire, her response to the state’s coronavirus crisis and why she’ll never make the move to Canberra
Ms Berejiklian’s personal life was thrown into the public spotlight last October when she admitted at a ICAC corruption inquiry hearing she had ‘a close personal relationship’ with former Liberal MP colleague Daryl Maguire.
The bombshell confession not only shocked the public but also floored her own parliamentary colleagues.
One longtime colleague went as far as describing Mr Maguire as ‘the last bloke you’d think she’d have a relationship with’.
Not even the premier’s family or closest friends had any idea about the five year relationship carried out behind closed doors until shortly before the inquiry began.
Close friends described the first 48 hours following the scandal as rocky.
At the time, a resilient Ms Berejiklian admitted she had ‘stuffed up’ in her personal life as she pressed on with leading her state through a pandemic.
Looking back, she always knew it would be a difficult time but insists she never feared for her job.
‘If you’ve done nothing wrong, well then you power through and that was always my position. I’m far more rational than emotional and I kind of knew I’ve done nothing wrong. I also thought the community wanted me there, they wanted me to continue doing the job I was doing,’ Ms Berejiklian told the magazine.
While many decisions and comments regarding the pandemic made come under heavy fire from other state and territory leaders, Ms Berejiklian makes no apologies in a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Australian Financial Review Magazine
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured right) says she didn’t fear for her job after her secret five year relationship with former Liberal MP colleague Daryl Maguire (left) became public
She had no need to worry about her job.
As state opposition leader Jodi McKay called for her rival to step down, both sides of the federal government remained tight-lipped about the scandal as Ms Berejikian’s office became overflowing with flowers sent by supportive members of the public.
Mr Berejiklian believes she has grown from the lessons learned during the pandemic and says she has become more inspired and enthused with a greater sense of responsibility than ever before.
She recalled of being ‘very much on the same page’ as Victorian Labor counterpart Daniel Andrews when Australia first entered lockdown in March 2020.
The shared views changed within months when a Melbourne quarantine outbreak put on a spotlight on Victoria’s poor contract tracing systems, which sparked a horror second wave of cases and plunged the city into a 112-day lockdown.
NSW, on the other hand, had implemented a world-class contact tracing system and began trialling QR code check-in at venues.
It soon became mandatory in NSW businesses, where as Victoria’s QR system only became compulsory just last week.
The initiatives allowed Ms Berejiklian to follow the mantra of letting life resume to normal as much as possible with restrictions and to expect occasional outbreak.
Ms Berejiklian defended her handling of widespread outbreaks from the Ruby Princess cruise ship last March, the Crossroads Hotel in July and Sydney’s northern beaches at Christmas, all which she described as ‘really frightening’.
She also accepted full responsibility for last year’s Ruby Princess fiasco.
Ms Berejiklian’s relations with other state and territory leaders have become strained due to her approach to the pandemic and her firm belief that domestic borders should remain open.
She became embroiled in a bitter ongoing stoush with Queensland counterpart Annastacia Palaszczuk when the borders between the two neighbouring states were slammed shut for four months late last year.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured on April 8) says she has grown as a leader in the last year while responding to the coronavirus pandemic
Relations have soured between Gladys Berejiklian (in blue) and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (also pictured) in the last year due to border closures
NSW Premier Galdys Brejiklian (right) got on with the job of leading her state during a pandemic when her former relationship with Daryl Maguire (left) became public
Just three weeks after the Queensland borders reopened in December, the borders closed again due to the outbreak on Sydney’s northern beaches, throwing Christmas holiday plans into chaos.
The border closure sparked other states to follow suit as another round of public spats Ms Berejiklian and her Queensland counterpart were reignited.
But Ms Berejiklian insists her relations with all the other Premiers have been ‘equally tense on the topic of cross-border relations.
‘I remember getting abused by other states at the time because we weren’t reacting quickly enough, ‘we should shut down the state, and why weren’t we doing all of that?,’ she said.
‘I thought it was a little bit more take than give. But not withstanding that, in a pandemic you try and get beyond that and just do what you think is right. And I kind of gave up worrying what other people thought or how they commented.’
Despite widespread criticisms in the last year, Ms Berejiklian holds a 75 per cent approval rating according to the most recent NSW polling, with most praising her for an effective and panic-free handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
She will become the state’s longest-serving Liberal leader next March if she remains in the top job and doesn’t have to worry about a state election for another two years.
Ms Berejiklian also opened up about her childhood and being raised by Armenian parents.
She didn’t speak a word of English until the age of five but could suddenly string a few sentences together when she needed her tonsils taken out.
Ms Berejiklian ruled out a future move to federal politics, claiming she ‘wouldn’t cut it in Canberra’.
‘I’m a bit of an outsider, as it is,’ she quipped.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian (left) will become NSW’s longest-serving Liberal leader next March if she remains in the top job. She’s pictured with the wife of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Jenny Morrison