Opponents of Gladys Berejiklian’s potential successor Stuart Ayres have circulated pictures of him with ‘dodgy’ Daryl Maguire in a bid to derail his tilt at becoming NSW Premier.
The tourism minister, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Planning Minister Rob Stokes are seen as the top contenders for Ms Berejiklian’s job after her shock resignation on Friday.
In the frantic hours since Ms Berejiklian announced she was stepping down, Mr Ayres’ factional enemies have distributed images of him visiting Mr Maguire’s seat of Wagga Wagga in 2017.
During the visit, Mr Ayres appeared in several pictures with Mr Maguire, which he shared on his personal Facebook page on August 16, 2017.
The photo captions explain he was ‘talking… regional sports infrastructure grants along with inspecting the Borambola sports centre and the new clay target centre about to start construction’.
There is no suggestion of any impropriety by Mr Ayres, who was sports minister at the time.
But the frenzied messages suggest the dispute over who becomes premier is already becoming dirty.
Opponents of Gladys Berejiklian’s potential successor Stuart Ayres (second from right) have circulated pictures of him with disgraced MP Daryl Maguire (far right) in a bid to derail his ambitions to become Premier. Mr Ayres shared this photo and others on his personal Facebook page in 2017. Also in the photo are: Australian Clay Target Association President Robert Nugent (left) and ACTA executive member Tony Turner
The photo captions on his August 2017 Facebook say Mr Ayres (pictured second from right) was ‘talking… regional sports infrastructure grants along with inspecting the Borambola sports centre and the new clay target centre about to start construction’. Daryl Maguire is seen on the far left
A tearful Gladys Berejiklian (pictured on Friday) has resigned as NSW premier and slammed the state’s corruption watchdog for investigating her
Ms Berejiklian, 51, resigned on Friday as a result of an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry into whether she encouraged or allowed corrupt conduct by Mr Maguire – her secret ex-boyfriend and former Wagga Wagga MP – 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 – involving the Clay Target Association and Riverina Conservatorium of Music – handed out in Mr Maguire’s electorate.
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 to being involved in a cash-for-visa scheme and seeking secret commissions for brokering property deals.
He was forced to resign in 2018.
Ms Berejiklian was placed under a microscope when the revelation of her five-year secret relationship with Mr Maguire was outed last October when she first appeared before ICAC.
She revealed she had a ‘personal attachment’ to Mr Maguire after working together for more than 15 years and said their relationship began in 2015.
Gladys Berejiklian (right) with her disgraced ex-boyfriend Daryl Maguire (left)
Another of the photos Mr Ayres (fourth from right) posted online in August 2017 showing him with Daryl Maguire (fourth from left) in Wagga Wagga which have been circulated in the run-up to the leadership vote
The ICAC is also investigating whether Ms Berejiklian had a conflict of interest in connection with grant funding to the Australian Clay Target Association in Wagga Wagga (pictured)
‘I would like to state at the outset Mr Maguire was a colleague of 15 years, he was someone that I trusted,’ she said.
‘That developed into a close personal relationship.’
An intercepted phone call between Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire was played to the commission, revealing their close relationship.
The private conversation was about Mr Maguire’s first trip to China.
Ms Berejiklian could be heard saying former chief-of-staff Sarah Cruickshank had concerns about his travel.
‘Alright babe, what do you think?’ Mr Maguire said.
Ms Berejiklian replied: ‘I just got home, did Sarah ring you from my office?’
Mr Maguire was concerned.
‘No why?’ he replied.
‘She sent me a text, when she has to ring a member of Parliament she lets me know.
‘They seem to think it’s in your electorate. I didn’t say anything, It’s none of my business, I’m just letting you know.’
Mr Maguire went on to use ‘offensive language’ to explain why he was going to China.
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)
‘I will [interfere]… these bureaucrats don’t care… they’re shaking hands, they are sucking people’s d***s and they are turning up to everything and they do nothing,’ he said.
In August it emerged that Ms Berejiklian showed ‘interest’ in a proposed $5.5million grant for a shooting association clubhouse and conference facility in Mr Maguire’s electorate, documents show.
But the premier insisted she’s done nothing wrong.
Documents obtained by NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge show the Australian Clay Target Association sought grant funding for the clubhouse and conference facility in Wagga Wagga.
Its initial business case was knocked back but a revised version was in 2017 reconsidered, according to the documents, after Ms Berejiklian made inquiries on the matter. It was subsequently approved.
Mr Maguire had initially in 2016 written to Ms Berejiklian about the project – at a time when the pair were in a relationship. Ms Berejiklian was NSW treasurer at the time.
She thanked him for ‘bringing (the) request to the government’s attention’ and referred him to the then-minister for sport, Stuart Ayres.
The Australian Clay Target Association project in 2017 failed a cost-benefit analysis, recording a score of 0.88 – lower than the minimum score of above 1.00.
ICAC’s statement on its investigation into Gladys Berejiklian
The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) will hold a further public inquiry in Operation Keppel from 10:00 am on Monday 18 October 2021.
The Commission is investigating whether, between 2012 and 2018, the Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP engaged in conduct that:
- Constituted or involved a breach of public trust by exercising public functions in circumstances where she was in a position of conflict between her public duties and her private interest as a person who was in a personal relationship with the then NSW Member of Parliament, Mr Daryl Maguire, in connection with: grant funding promised and/or awarded to the Australian Clay Target Association Inc in 2016/2017; and grant funding promised and/or awarded to the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga in 2018; and/or
- constituted or involved the partial exercise of any of her official functions, in connection with: grant funding promised and/or awarded to the Australian Clay Target Association Inc in 2016/2017; grant funding promised and/or awarded to the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga in 2018; and/or
- constituted or involved the dishonest or partial exercise of any of her official functions and/or a breach of public trust by refusing to exercise her duty pursuant to section 11 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 to report any matter that she suspected on reasonable grounds concerned or may concern corrupt conduct in relation to the conduct of Mr Daryl Maguire; and/or
- was liable to allow or encourage the occurrence of corrupt conduct by Mr Maguire.
The Commission is also investigating whether, between 2012 and August 2018, Mr Maguire engaged in conduct that involved a breach of public trust by using his public office, involving his duties as a member of the NSW Parliament, and the use of parliamentary resources, to improperly gain a benefit for himself, G8wayInternational/G8wayInternational Pty Ltd and associated persons.
It was reassessed later in 2017 after a new business case was put forward by consultants engaged by the Department of Industry, with more details on anticipated interstate and international visitors.
The documents suggest Ms Berejiklian made a ‘request’ to the department’s Investment Appraisal Unit to carry out that business case reassessment.
That second business case received a score of 1.10 over the 25-year assessment period, and was approved.
Another document – an email written by then Regional NSW deputy secretary Gary Barnes – notes Ms Berejiklian’s ‘interest’ in the project.
‘If you want proof this $5.5million grant was about politics not merit, then you can always check out the initial business case assessment. It showed the project was a no-go,’ Mr Shoebridge said.
Ms Berejiklian denied all wrongdoing, saying processes were followed.
‘The proposition you are putting is absolutely ridiculous and all proper processes were followed,’ Ms Berejiklian told reporters in August.
A tearful Ms Berejiklian resigned on Friday as NSW premier and slammed the independent inquiry after announcing the investigation into her role was ongoing.
She will step down as Willoughby MP and leave politics for good as soon as a by-election to choose her successor can take place after Sydney’s Covid lockdown.
A supporter walking her dog leaves flowers at Ms Berejiklian’s home
Flowers, balloons and cards are left for Premier Gladys Berejiklian at her Willoughby home
One letter left at the premier’s home said she had been ‘the most amazing premier’ of the state
‘I’ve had to make a difficult decision overnight,’ Ms Berejiklian said on Friday as she hastily read a prepared statement in front of the cameras before refusing to take questions.
‘It pains me to announce that I have no option but to resign from the Office of Premier’.
After Ms Berejiklian resigned, distraught supporters left flowers and balloons at her home and paid tribute to her.
Constituents were pictured tying balloons in the shape of her initials to the gates of her north Sydney home while others left flowers at her door.
One supporter standing outside the outgoing premier’s Willoughby electorate office said: ‘I’m devastated to be honest. It makes me want to cry. She’s led us through a really difficult time.
‘We’re in a global pandemic and she’s led us with strength and integrity and I’m devastated that’s she gone.’