NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian had a “close personal relationship” with ex-government MPe Daryl Maguire and the pair continued to communicate until less than a month ago, a state anti-corruption inquiry has heard.
Ms Berejiklian also admitted Mr Maguire had told her about some of his business interests and she presumed the ex-Wagga Wagga MP had appropriately disclosed them.
The premier on Monday appeared by audio-visual link before the Independent Commission Against Corruption which is investigating Mr Maguire.
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He’s accused of using his public office and parliamentary resources to improperly gain a benefit for himself or for G8way International, a company Mr Maguire allegedly “effectively controlled”.
Mr Maguire was forced to quit Ms Berejiklian’s government in 2018 after a separate ICAC inquiry heard evidence he sought payments to help broker deals for property developers.
Ms Berejiklian said she had a “personal attachment” to Mr Maguire and their relationship, which began in 2015, had been kept under wraps as she was a “very private person”.
They last spoke on September 13 – less than a month ago – and Ms Berejiklian ceased communication only after agreeing to attend the ICAC inquiry.
Ms Berejiklian admitted that over the course of their relationship, Mr Maguire frequently spoke of his finances and was “obsessed” by them.
But she denied distancing herself from specific details on Mr Maguire’s affairs in an attempt at self-preservation.
“I would never, ever, ever turn a blind eye from any responsibility that I had to disclose any wrongdoing that I saw, or any activity that I thought was not in keeping with what a member of parliament should be doing,” Ms Berejiklian told the inquiry.
“I would suggest that I was either not interested or I thought what he was raising with me was fanciful. He was a big talker.
“A lot of the time, I would have ignored a lot of what he said as fanciful and information that I didn’t care to be involved in or interested in.”
The premier also said she didn’t take a personal interest in Mr Maguire’s finances, despite their relationship, as she was an “independent woman” with her own finances.
Ms Berejiklian was dragged into the saga last week when the ICAC heard Mr Maguire gave a western Sydney landowner – Louise Waterhouse – Ms Berejiklian’s email address to help her lobby for rezoning changes that would benefit a parcel of land she held.
ICAC heard Mr Maguire passed on the email address and suggested the premier would be able to provide a “tickle from up top”, but Ms Waterhouse said Ms Berejiklian never responded.
The inquiry continues before assistant commissioner Ruth McColl SC.
© AAP 2020