News, Culture & Society

Gladys Berejiklian’s ex-advisers give evidence into corruption allegations against her at ICAC

Daryl Maguire’s testimony at a corruption hearing into former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has been delayed due to ‘investigative reasons’.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is, in part, investigating if Ms Berejiklian engaged in conduct ‘liable to allow or encourage the occurrence of corrupt conduct’ by former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire, with whom she was in a secret relationship at the time.

Ms Berejikilan’s former chief of staff, Neil Harley, is giving evidence after a delayed start to Tuesday’s proceedings at a corruption hearing into the former NSW premier. 

The delay may have been due to a change in the witness list timetable. Mr Maguire  has been switched from Wednesday to Thursday. 

ICAC counsel Scott Robertson said: ‘I don’t intend to call Mr Maguire tomorrow’ due to ‘investigative reasons’.

Ms Berejiklian’s testimony was initially set to be heard on Thursday and Friday, but her appearance on Thursday has now been cancelled and she will probably have to return to the ICAC on Monday.   

Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) checks her phone while out for a walk in Sydney

Gary Barnes, secretary of the Department of Regional NSW, who gave evidence last week, has been recalled for further questions on Wednesday. 

Ms Berejiklian’s barrister, Sophie Callan, said she is seeking procedural fairness regarding the ICAC’s investigation into whether or not Ms Berejiklian complied with a legal duty to report suspected corruption to the watchdog.

Section 11 of the ICAC Act states that a NSW government minister and other public officials have a duty to report any matter the person suspects on reasonable grounds concerns or may concern corrupt conduct.

Ms Callan said Ms Berejiklian’s lawyers wrote to the ICAC asking for further information about this but had received a ‘wholly unsatisfactory’ response.

She said Ms Berejiklian was ‘entitled to know what it is that is alleged in respect of section 11’.

In reply, Mr Robertson said ‘these proceedings are not a trial’ and the correspondence contained a ‘fundamental misapprehension’ about ICAC’s role, which is that it was seeking to find the truth and was not a prosecutorial body. 

Gladys Berejiklian's former secret boyfriend Daryl Maguire was called 'a pain in the arse … (like) a dog with a bone,' in evidence given by former deputy premier John Barilaro to ICAC on Monday

Gladys Berejiklian’s former secret boyfriend Daryl Maguire was called ‘a pain in the arse … (like) a dog with a bone,’ in evidence given by former deputy premier John Barilaro to ICAC on Monday

Ms Callan added that the watchdog had received evidence from ‘seven men’ to date about whether Ms Berejiklian was in a position of conflict in light of her secret relationship with Mr Maguire between 2015 and 2018.

She indicated that Ms Berejiklian’s team would argue this evidence could not ‘rationally bear’ on Assistant Commissioner Ruth McColl, SC’s assessment as to whether a conflict of interest in fact existed.

Ms McColl did not accept that ICAC needed to change the course its inquiry was taking.

ICAC is investigating whether Ms 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

 

Mr Harley will be followed by Brad Burden, project director at the Department of Defence, and Sarah Cruickshank, deputy secretary at the Department of Premier and Cabinet, who is also a former chief of staff to Ms Berejiklian.  

If these two days reveal as much as the previous six days of testimony, then Ms Berejiklian is in for an emotional rollercoaster ride before she even gets a chance to defend herself. 

On Monday, the Independent Commission Against Corruption heard her former deputy John Barilaro thought Mr Maguire was ‘a pain in the a**e’ and that she should have revealed their relationship as it may have been a ‘conflict’. 

Mr Barilaro said if he had known about the clandestine relationship between Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire, a controversial shooting centre funding proposal from the Australian Clay Target Association (ACTA) could have been handled differently.

‘It’s very possible because of the conflict that we would have managed it differently,’ said Mr Barilaro.

Ms Berejiklian’s years-long secret affair with the former Liberal MP was not revealed until a year ago when ICAC was investigating Mr Maguire.

But Ms Berejiklian’s barrister, Sophie Callan SC, sought to turn the tables on Mr Barilaro on Monday afternoon, asking if he had disclosed relationships of his own.

Mr Barilaro said he ‘would have’ disclosed any relationships, including family links.

‘What about any other intimate personal relationships?’ Ms Callan asked.

‘That’s a hard question because my relationships are with my family,’ Mr Barilaro said. 

Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting Mr Barilaro has done anything improper in his personal or professional lives.  

The ACTA shooting centre was to be located in Mr Maguire’s former electorate of Wagga Wagga and he was a keen backer of it getting state funding of $5.5million.

The ICAC is investigating if Ms Berejiklian was ‘liable to allow or encourage the occurrence of corrupt conduct’ by Mr Maguire, with whom she was in a ‘close personal relationship’ between 2015 and 2018.

Former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro leaves the Independent Commission Against Corruption hearing in Sydney on Monday, October 25, 2021

Former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro leaves the Independent Commission Against Corruption hearing in Sydney on Monday, October 25, 2021

It’s also looking into whether she ‘exercised her official functions dishonestly or partially’ by not reporting any reasonable suspicions about Mr Maguire to the ICAC. 

An email tendered into evidence at ICAC on Monday from Mr Maguire to his then lover Ms Berejiklian and her deputy Mr Barilaro featured a subject line of ‘Here we go on the merry go round again.’

It was a reference to the fact that Mr Maguire was again seeking to help an organisation in his electorate to get substantial, multi-million dollar funding.

Liberal MP Daryl Maguire, who was then the secret lover of NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian, took a humorous view of project funding requests in an email to Ms Berejiklian and her then deputy premier John Barilaro

Liberal MP Daryl Maguire, who was then the secret lover of NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian, took a humorous view of project funding requests in an email to Ms Berejiklian and her then deputy premier John Barilaro

Mr Barilaro was asked ICAC counsel Scott Robertson about the former premier’s relationship with Mr Maguire regarding funding promises made to the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga.

Ms Berejiklian was premier by the time the government’s expenditure review committee (ERC) signed off in 2018 on $10 million for the conservatorium to move to another premises.

A statement from former deputy premier Gladys Berejiklian tendered into evidence at ICAC on Monday

A statement from former deputy premier Gladys Berejiklian tendered into evidence at ICAC on Monday

Later that year the government also promised during a by-election – caused by Mr Maguire’s resignation – to award a further $20 million to fund the construction a recital hall.

That money still has not been paid.

‘There should have been a disclosure (of the relationship),’ Mr Barilaro said.

‘ERC decisions are taken seriously,’ he said.

Mr Robertson asked Mr Barilaro about Mr Maguire’s advocacy for projects in his electorate.

‘I would say he was a pain in the a**e … (like) a dog with a bone,’ he said.

ICAC witness list 

Tuesday 26 – Neil Harley, former chief of staff to Gladys Berejiklian

Brad Burden, project director at Department of Defence

Sarah Cruickshank, deputy secretary at Department of Premier and Cabinet

Wednesday 27 – Gary Barnes, secretary of the Department of Regional NSW

Thursday 28 – Daryl Maguire, former Liberal MP

Friday 29 – Gladys Berejiklian, former premier of NSW

In a statement to the ICAC, which was tendered into evidence on Monday, he said: ‘Whilst Mr Maguire was a member of parliament It was common practice for him to turn up to my offices unannounced, stop me in corridors, or in the Chamber to advocate for projects.

‘However, I can’t recall specifics of any encounter regarding the Clay Target proposal. 

‘I can recall that I had conversations with Premier Berejiklian, regarding the Clay Target project where Ms Berejiklian indicated support for the project,’ Mr Barilaro said.

Hejoined the ERC in November 2016 after he became leader of the NSW National Party and deputy premier.

Ms Berejiklian was then the state treasurer and chair of the ERC, which was considering the ACTA funding request.

Mr Barilaro agreed with Mr Robertson that Ms Berejiklian’s support for putting the ACTA application on the ERC agenda indicated she supported it.

The former NSW National Party leader said that if the relationship between Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire was known at the time, her cabinet colleagues would have expected the ‘treasurer would have excused herself from the debate’.

It was disclosed to the commission that he said in his private hearing that if the relationship had been known ‘I would not have supported the agenda item, I believe my colleagues would not have supported the agenda item.’

Mr Barilaro said he first became aware the ACTA was looking for funding was when it appeared on the ERC agenda in December 2016. It was the ‘third or the fourth’ ERC meeting he had attended.

Ms Berejiklian denies any wrongdoing.  

Gladys Berejiklian (pictured right) is under investigation by ICAC for her conduct while NSW premier in relation to her former boyfriend, ex-MP Daryl Maguire (pictured left)

Gladys Berejiklian (pictured right) is under investigation by ICAC for her conduct while NSW premier in relation to her former boyfriend, ex-MP Daryl Maguire (pictured left)

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured left) with her then sec

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured left) with her then sec

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk