NSW ICAC lawyer Scott Robertson makes Australians swoon in Gladys Berejiklian interrogation

Australia has an unlikely new heartthrob in the form of the formidable lawyer ruthlessly interrogating Gladys Berejiklian.

Scott Robertson’s deadpan expression and robotic style of questioning set pulses racing across the nation as he mercilessly grilled the embattled former NSW premier at the Independent Commission Against Corruption hearing on Friday. 

Speaking in monotone, Mr Robertson remained calm and precise as he relentlessly probed Ms Berejiklian about her relationship with disgraced Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire.

But viewers appeared unconcerned about the ex-Premier’s alleged indiscretions as they took to Twitter to swoon over Mr Roberston’s unflinching demeanour instead.

Australia’s latest heartthrob: Scott Robertson (pictured) has set pulses racing across the nation with his relentless grilling of Gladys Berejiklian at the ICAC hearing on Friday

‘I think I’m in love with Scott Robertson,’ one woman wrote.

‘Have developed a HUGE crush on Mr Robertson,’ said a second, while a third added: ‘I’m in awe…so amazing, so well prepared, so professional, so over it all!’

Others gushed over the University of Adelaide graduate’s intellect, with one woman declaring: ‘I think I have a brain crush.’

Even television host Michael Rowland was astounded by his incisive questioning.

He tweeted: ‘Making a mental note to never place myself in a situation where I have to be interrogated by Scott Robertson. He is.. rather good at his job.’ 

The ICAC hearings have captivated viewers, but many appeared unconcerned about the ex-Premier's alleged indiscretions as they took to Twitter to swoon over Mr Robertson instead

The ICAC hearings have captivated viewers, but many appeared unconcerned about the ex-Premier’s alleged indiscretions as they took to Twitter to swoon over Mr Robertson instead

Dozens said they have a 'huge crush' on the University of Adelaide graduate

Dozens said they have a ‘huge crush’ on the University of Adelaide graduate

Tireless in his inquiries, at one stage Mr Robertson asked Ms Berejiklian the same question 10 times in a row when she failed to clearly answer if she considered Mr Maguire to be part of her family.

‘You regarded Mr Maguire as part of your family, is that right?’  

When Ms Berejiklian said she didn’t feel she needed to put the relationship ‘on the public record’, he curtly responded ‘we’ll let the lawyers argue about the law’ and asked the same question again and again. 

‘What’s the answer to my question then? Did you or did you not regard Mr Maguire as part of your family?’ he said.

Mr Robertson indulged in a rare verbal flourish when Ms Berejiklian denied treating Mr Maguire differently to other colleagues.

Former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian arrives at the corruption hearing on Friday

Former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian arrives at the corruption hearing on Friday

‘Are you seriously saying that Mr Maguire approached you about projects in the exact same way as all your other colleagues,’ he said.

But he swiftly continued to question the premier in his signature tone.

It’s a technique the lawyer has honed over 12 years since being admitted to the NSW bar in 2009.

According to his online profile he has degrees in economics, international studies and law from the University of Adelaide and also did a Masters’ degree in law at Oxford University which he completed in 2007.

He specialises in commercial, construction and public law, but likes to challenge himself him by ‘appearing in jurisdictions in which he is not a regular and in matters raising difficult or novel points of law or equity.’ 

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 Robertson is the counsel assisting the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption as it investigates whether Ms Berejiklian encouraged or allowed corrupt conduct by her secret ex-boyfriend and former Wagga Wagga MP Mr Maguire between 2012 and 2018. 

It is also probing her role in multi-million dollar government grants to a gun club and conservatorium of music in his electorate. 

Ms Berejiklian insists she has done nothing wrong and has ‘always acted with integrity’. 

On Friday Ms Berejiklian’s successor Dominic Perrottet was dragged into the corruption inquiry.

A tapped phone call played to a defiant Ms Berejiklian on Friday featured Ms Berejiklian speaking about funding projects in Mr Maguire’s seat of Wagga Wagga and saying of Mr Perrottet: ‘He does just what I ask him to.’   

During the call, Mr Maguire said he ‘heckled’ the then treasurer Mr Perrottet and said he would have a ‘f**king riot on your hands’ if his electorate did not get funding for projects including Wagga Wagga Base Hospital and Tumut Hospital.

In the call, Mr Maguire recalled that Mr Perrottet had told him there was no money in the budget for those projects but there was money for a planned crack down on graffiti. 

Ms Berejiklian responded: ‘I’ll fix it’. 

She called back later and said: ‘I’ve already got you the Wagga hospital. I just spoke to Dom (Perrottet) … He just does what I ask him to.’ 

A stressed-looking Gladys Berejiklian arrived at the ICAC on Friday morning - breaking her silence outside court

A stressed-looking Gladys Berejiklian arrived at the ICAC on Friday morning – breaking her silence outside court

She added: ‘We’re giving Wagga more money than ever before,’ she said. ‘I just got you the one hundred and seventy mill … you can’t tell me you’ve been hard done by.’ 

Ms Berejiklian said she had got Mr Maguire that money ‘in five minutes’ but he would need to speak to Health Minister Brad Hazzard about Tumut Hospital because she wouldn’t fix everything for him. 

Mr Maguire was pushing for between $500,000 and a million dollars for that hospital. 

Mr Robertson asked Ms Berejiklian about a September 2017 deal ‘which would give (Mr Maguire) enough money to pay off his debts of $1.5 million’. 

‘Did you suspect that Mr Maguire was or may have been engaged in corrupt conduct?’ he asked.

‘I did not,’ Ms Berejiklian replied. 

Daryl Maguire (pictured, left) gave evidence at a corruption inquiry into former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian (right)

Daryl Maguire (pictured, left) gave evidence at a corruption inquiry into former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian (right) 

‘How did you think a Member of Parliament was capable of earning a commission something in the vicinity of $1.5 million in relation to a land deal?’ he asked.

‘I did not pay too much attention to that because he was always talking big and I didn’t pay too much attention to that, but I’d trusted him as a colleague and as a close personal friend and I never thought that he was doing anything untoward,’ she replied. 

‘Why did you believe that 1.5 million dollars might be able to be earned by Mr Maguire,’ Mr Robertson asked.

‘I have no recollection of what the context was of that telephone conversation but my general response is I never suspected that he was doing anything untoward,’ she replied, adding that she always assumed Mr Maguire ‘was very aware of his disclosure requirements’.

The tone of Friday’s hearing was set at the very beginning when Mr Robertson began with a killer question.  

‘If you were able to have your time again would you disclose your close personal relationship with Mr Maguire?’ Mr Robertson asked.

Ms Berejiklian responded she didn’t feel it was a commitment she could share with her parents, Arsha and Krikor, or her sisters.

‘I didn’t feel there was a sufficient significance to be able to do that in terms of significance.’ 

Then Mr Robertson was off – slowly grinding away at Ms Berejiklian’s answers, and by doing so, the Premier’s reputation.

Mr Robertson’s grilling is expected to continue on Monday. 

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