Phone taps reveal detailed discussion of Maguire's looming Icac appearance
The phone taps Icac heard this afternoon were truly extraordinary.
What did they tell us?
- Daryl Maguire called Gladys Berejiklian to warn her that he was about to appear before Icac over his involvement in the property dealings of Chinese development giant Country Garden.
- Berejiklian quickly asked whether there was “anything to worry about?”. She showed a close interest in what Icac was looking for. She asked what it was trying to establish, what Maguire’s lawyers had said, and said a question in her mind would be why a regional MP was so interested in property dealings in Sydney’s inner west. Berejiklian urged Maguire to “just be careful”.
- Maguire assured her that he hadn’t taken any money for helping Country Garden and that he was only appearing as a witness. But he went on to rail against the powers of Icac and warned the then premier that their phone call may be being recorded. “They could be taping your conversation with me right now, you wouldn’t know,” he said.
- Berejiklian asked Maguire whether recordings of their phone calls are “going to be a problem”. She also warned Maguire about the associates he’s been dealing with, saying “they’re dodgy”, and said “people will use you”.
- Icac is, of course, exploring whether Berejiklian should have notified it of her suspicions about misconduct by Maguire. Asked about the calls, Berejiklian insisted that she was satisfied with Maguire’s assurances that he had done nothing wrong. She said the discussion had piqued her interest, prompting her detailed questioning, but that she trusted Maguire and was confident in his explanation.
The commission adjourns. It will return on Monday at 9am for more evidence from the former premier.
During that call, Berejiklian said she would question Maguire about why an MP from outside the inner west was so interested in the inner west.
Robertson asks why she raised this, if she wasn’t concerned he was engaged in wrongdoing.
I guess I was just curious to how he was connected to all of this.
Why didn’t she ask similar questions when he mentioned land deals out near Badgerys Creek, the site of western Sydney airport?
Berejiklian said because the looming Icac hearings made it more serious.
She says there were some aspects of the phone call that piqued her interest. But she was satisfied when he said he did nothing wrong. She trusted him, she says again.
The calls end.
Robertson asks whether Berejiklian’s question “is that going to be a problem?” reflected a concern that Maguire was engaged in wrongdoing.
She said she was seeking an affirmation that Maguire had done nothing wrong and believed him.
He’d assured me that he had done nothing wrong.
'They're dodgy': Berejiklian warns Maguire about associates
The tapes roll on.
Gladys Berejiklian says she would be asking why an MP who doesn’t represent the inner west is so interested in the region.
Daryl Maguire says:
Country Garden [a Chinese property developer] asked me to, to make an introduction.
What’s your relationship to Country Garden?
They were ... friends of William Chiu. William introduced me to them in the early days.
Berejiklian says she is “interested to know what your lawyers think”, as in “where they are trying to go”.
She later says:
I’ve always kept my business from people like that ... I think they’re dodgy.
Everyone’s dodgy. Gladys, that means you can’t mix with anybody. You can’t have a conversation.
I know, I’m just giving you my opinion.
Berejiklian warns Maguire 'people will use you' and asks if tapes of their phone calls would 'be a problem'
Another call is played.
Whatever happened to people being able to tell you about their problems and you being able to take up their problems for them? It’s all wrong. It’s all wrong.
Don’t get involved in anything you don’t need to.
She goes on to warn “people will use you”.
Maguire again rails against “transparency” and the powers of Icac.
The referees are not in charge now, the goddamn media, and the viewing world are in charge of the decisions that are made. Not the referee running around the field ... that’s how it is. That’s how it is and it’s getting worse.
Maguire again complains Icac could be recording their phone calls.
Is that going to be a problem?
Why what have you done?
Nothing, I don’t even know these people.
But I’m just saying to you that’s the power that these organisations have, that’s the real issue.
'I trusted him': Berejiklian was not concerned Maguire was engaged in wrongdoing
The calls end. Explosive, to say the least.
Gladys Berejiklian is asked about her questions to Daryl Maguire in which she tries to ascertain whether Icac was investigating if he was paid for his property dealings.
Counsel assisting Scott Robertson:
Were you asking because you were concerned that Mr Maguire was engaged in wrongdoing in relation to what I will call property deals?
No, because I trusted him. He told me he’d done nothing wrong and I believed him.
Maguire says he doesn’t have access to all the emails and documents.
God knows what was said. I don’t know.
Berejiklian asks if Maguire’s lawyers have access to the material. He says they do.
What’s her summation after going through all the stuff?
It’s not her job to surmise it.
Can you let me know what she said? What did she say?
More from the recordings.
Does my office know all about this?
Maguire says he told her chief of staff and another staffer.
And I said not to say anything to you until I’ve gone and found out what it’s all about.
Berejiklian asks whether Icac is trying to establish that Maguire made money for making the introduction for the Chinese property developer, Country Garden.
Berejiklian asks again:
They are not investigating you?
Maguire says he is just a witness but the problem is that he could be implicated by some innocent comment.
He continues railing against Icac:
Nobody can have a conversation, nobody can make representations. What’s happening is that MPs and others are being muted by the fact that you have all this overseeing ... in a way that paints you as fucking corrupt if you have a conversation.
He says this is all creating a system where MPs will just “warm the seat” and not have a go at helping anybody.
Berejiklian asks more details. How long will the hearing take?
When Maguire elaborates, she replies:
I don’t want to know.
Again, Berejiklian wants to know if Maguire’s lawyers have any concerns.
I’m calm because that’s what the girl said to me. She said, ‘Did you accept money?’ and I said, ‘Not on your bloody life.’ If I had a deal I would have got a solicitor and done things properly, because that’s how I work.
Maguire asks Berejiklian how her day is going. She says she is a “bit distressed for you now”. Maguire says that’s why he didn’t want to tell her:
I must have killed a black cat and 10 Chinamen and walked under a couple of ladders. What more can you throw at a bloke?
'They could be taping your conversation with me right now': Maguire says in taped phone call
Additional recordings are played.
Daryl Maguire complains that Icac is always “taping” phone calls and “you can’t even have a conversation now”.
He complains about the $10,000 he has to spend to appear before Icac:
These people think it’s a fucking picnic. It costs you nothing to go to Sydney, costs you nothing to stay, to do all this stuff, you know? They live in their own world, and everyone is corrupt. You can’t even have a conversation now, they’re taping it. They’re conjuring stuff up.
He goes on:
It’s worse than the Spanish fucking inquisition. They could be taping your conversation with me right now, you wouldn’t know. Wouldn’t know. People have no right to a conversation, whether good intent or bad intent.
I have nothing to fear.
She is asked how she could possibly believe Maguire when he said he hadn’t accepted a single dollar through the Country Garden property dealings, when he had previously told her that he was going to resolve a $1.5m debt by receiving a commission from a land deal:
I don’t know how I would be expected to make any joining of the dots which don’t exist in this case.
Berejiklian has said she previously did not ask any questions about Maguire’s dealings because they were “of no interest to her”.
She is asked why it became of interest to her by the time of this call in July 2018? Was it because Icac was asking questions?
I’d only be speculating if I answered that question.
The call ends.
Berejiklian says she was trying to satisfy herself that Maguire had done nothing wrong.
Did you suspect he was engaged in corrupt conduct?
No, I did not and, if I had done, I would have reported it.
Robertson reminds her that Maguire had previously told her that he was going to resolve a $1.5m debt through a land deal.
He asks whether that raised the possibility that he had engaged in improper conduct.
No, I trusted him and I believed him when he said he hadn’t done anything wrong.
'Just be careful': Berejiklian urges Maguire to be wary over Icac probe
The call goes on.
Gladys Berejiklian warns Daryl Maguire:
Just make sure you’ve taken lawyers’ advice.
Maguire talks about helping a Country Garden employee with a problem with a “planning issue”. He made introductions for the employee.
Why did you feel like you needed to do that for Country Garden? The lawyers will ask ...
Maguire says he wanted to help his friend Tim.
Just make sure you answer everything as directly and honestly as you can.
Maguire said “that’s all you can do” and reiterates that he took no money for his involvement.
Anyway. Two rules: be honest and listen to your lawyer.
She asks what Icac is trying to establish. Maguire explains that there was a “row” over a property deal and the lack of planning approvals.
If I was new to all this, I’d say, ‘What’s it to you, why do you care... why did you go out of your way?’
Maguire says he was trying to help out Tim.
Berejiklian urges Maguire to “just be careful”.
Berejiklian asked Maguire if there was 'anything to worry about' from Icac
Gladys Berejiklian tells the inquiry she first learned Daryl Maguire was appearing before Icac from a staffer, and later from Maguire himself.
Another phone recording is played.
Maguire is taped saying:
I’ve been subpoenaed to go to Icac. Summoned to Icac. So that’s exciting.
What? What for?
Maguire explains that it is because he made an introduction for a Chinese property developer, Country Garden.
Berejiklian asks whether there’s “anything to worry about”.
Maguire says no, he never took any money.
He attempts to explain the detail and Berejiklian says she doesn’t want to hear about it.
What did the lawyers say, did the lawyers say there was anything to worry about?
She is asked whether the “money projects” were helping to make it easier for Maguire to retire.
Berejiklian is angry at the suggestion.
I reject it outright, and I find it offensive.
Another phone recording is played.
In this call, Maguire says he is concentrating on “money projects” in Wagga Wagga. Berejiklian says that “helps her too”:
The more you do that, the easier it will be to win the seat.
She goes on to say:
We ticked off your conservatorium the other day, so that’s a done deal.
Maguire complains that he hasn’t got all the money. She replies:
Oh my god. Heaven help us, seriously.
After the recording is played, she’s asked if it was normal practice to tell parliamentary secretaries what had been ticked off by cabinet.
Did Maguire get an “advance run”?
No, no more or less than anybody else.
She is asked how Maguire concentrating on “money projects” helped her. Berejiklian explains that the government was worried about regional NSW after the Orange byelection. Anything that helped it win it back was welcome.
At that time, our regional communities felt ignored – they felt we were too Sydney-centric.
She said all her colleagues were keen to win back that support that was perceived to have been lost.
Telling Maguire he was 'family' was a 'turn of phrase', Berejiklian says
This is an interesting exchange.
On the day the subcommittee made a decision on the grant, Gladys Berejiklian told Daryl Maguire he was like her family. Yet she still says the relationship was not of sufficient status to disclose.
Counsel assisting Scott Robertson:
How can you possibly say that the relationship was not of sufficient status to consider making a disclosure ... when on the very same day you’re telling Mr Maguire that he’s your family?
Berejiklian says it was a “turn of phrase” and only intended to reflect her feelings for him, not be taken literally.
So when you say ‘you’re my family’ you didn’t mean ‘you’re my family’?
It was a turn of phrase ... it wasn’t a definition that I was wedding myself to it. It was simply a turn of phrase to convey the close connection that I thought I felt to him.
Berejiklian then attempts to tell the commission that the “threshold question” for whether she should have disclosed was whether she felt the relationship was significant enough.
She is rebuffed by commissioner Ruth McColl:
I think we’ll decide the threshold questions, Ms Berejiklian.
In my mind, there wasn’t any conflict on my part because this was a proposal to be determined through the proper process on its merits for the public interest.
Conservatorium grant had 'nothing to do' with Berejiklian's relationship with Maguire, she says
OK, we’re back on here. And straight back into the $30m grant to the conservatorium of music.
Gladys Berejiklian is asked why she sat on the cabinet subcommittee considering the grant but didn’t disclose her relationship to Daryl Maguire.
She says there would be no benefit personally to her and that the relationship wasn’t of a sufficient status to warrant disclosure:
It had nothing to do with what was happening in my private life.
Berejiklian says the thought of disclosing it never crossed her mind:
We didn’t share anything in common except for that close personal relationship ... the threshold for me was would I introduce him to my parents, would I introduce him to my sisters?
Commissioner Ruth McColl notes that it sounds as though Berejiklian gave a lot of thought to the matter. Why then did it not cross her mind to disclose the relationship?
In my view, [the grant decision] had nothing to do with my personal life because it was on the merits of providing something positive to the community.
The morning's major revelations
We’re not far off resuming. The lunch break typically ends about 2pm.
Just a quick reminder of the major revelations from this morning.
- Gladys Berejiklian promised to “fix” a grievance Daryl Maguire had about the lack of money for projects he wanted in the 2018 budget. She boasted that she’d secured him $170m in five minutes for a Wagga Wagga hospital and said the then treasurer Dominic Perrottet would just do whatever she wants.
- Berejiklian denied she ever suspected Maguire of corrupt conduct, despite him boasting that he was going to resolve a $1.5m debt through a land deal near western Sydney airport.
- She said she’d not disclosed her relationship with Maguire because the relationship wasn’t significant enough. A text message showed she described him as part of her “family”. She said really he had been more like part of her “love circle”, but not family in the way that her mother and sisters were.
- She has denied giving special treatment to Maguire in relation to two key grants to the Australian Clay Target Association and the Riverina Conservatorium of Music. Maguire had advocated for both. Berejiklian had some involvement in overseeing the grants. She had not disclosed her relationship to Maguire to her colleagues.
- Berejiklian told Maguire she would delay sacking an official so the official could fix Maguire’s concerns about the conservatorium funding.
And with that, we’ve adjourned for lunch.
Berejiklian denies delaying sacking official so he could 'fix' Maguire's funding concerns
Gladys Berejiklian is asked whether Daryl Maguire’s advocacy for the conservatorium ever influenced her decision to “hire and fire an official”.
She says it did not.
But she notes that she was “incensed” that community groups like the conservatorium were being told to apply for money through the unsolicited proposals process, because it wasted their time and fed the impression the government didn’t care about the regions.
The official in question can’t be named.
Berejiklian is played a phone call.
In it, Berejiklian says: “I can’t stand that guy. His head will be gone.”
She appears to indicate that she will delay sacking the official to meet Maguire’s request to “fix” the conservatorium funding:
Tell him to fix it, and then after he fixes it, I’m sacking him.
Asked about the recording, Berejiklian rejects the suggestion that she delayed sacking the official to help Maguire:
No, that person is still in the public service today.
Berejiklian said that, during the 2017 meeting, she offered a degree of government support to the conservatorium for its proposal:
I felt sorry for them.
She said the unsolicited proposals process was meant for major projects, like toll roads, not for minor issues like the conservatorium’s desire for relocation and a new performance space.
She says Maguire raised the funding with her “on a number of occasions”, as has the current member for Wagga Wagga.
Did Maguire complain about “roadblocks” to the project?
I’m sure he did.
She’s shown an email in which Maguire complained about the lack of progress on the conservatorium funding.
Robertson asks: “Did you take this email from Maguire as a request to intervene?”
No. Again vague recollection would have been that I would have taken it as his frustration with the process.
Berejiklian is played a recording of a phone call.
In the call, Maguire says “this funding is causing some bloody issues”. He is talking about the conservatorium funding.
At least we’ve engaged them, we’re in conversation. We’re on the right path.
Berejiklian is asked whether she gave Maguire favourable treatment. She denies doing so.
Gladys Berejiklian is now asked about another grant. This is the second of the grants at the centre of this investigation. It awarded $30m to the Riverina Conservatorium of Music.
The former premier is asked about a handwritten note to Daryl Maguire, who had been lobbying for the funding, in which she said she was “aware” of the “merits of the proposal”.
She cannot recall what merits they were in particular.
Berejiklian met with the conservatorium on 10 February 2017. Berejiklian says of the meeting:
I certainly got a deeper understanding of what they were seeking ... but certainly I do recall having correspondence and having this meeting with them.
The conservatorium wanted to relocate because it could no longer use its old premises, and it wanted a new performance space.
Berejiklian said she had been made aware during the meeting that the funding was being sought through the so-called “unsolicited proposals” process, which would not have been successful:
I was very concerned at the advice they’d been given and I was quite upset and incensed that they’d been asked to follow a particular course of action to get support when I knew that would have set them up for failure.
Berejiklian is shown an email from the deputy secretary of Regional NSW to one of her advisers about the grant. The email says:
Just wanted to keep you in the loop, given the premier’s interest ...
She says she doesn’t recall signalling any interest to her department or office. She says it’s possible that she did.
I certainly didn’t remember raising it frequently.
Did Maguire keep you up to date with the clay target project? Berejiklian cannot remember:
He may very well have been engaging with my office. I just don’t remember.
Gladys Berejiklian explains that, having lost the Orange byelection to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party, she may have wanted to fund something relating to shooting to help the Coalition win back regional voters in the area.
Her political desire to win back voters in the bush is the only context she can recall in relation to the grant.
Was her support for the grant influenced by the fact that Daryl Maguire was advancing it?
It could have been part of the consideration, but the absolute consideration for me ... was the consequence of the Orange byelection. I don’t remember meeting with him.
Berejiklian is asked why she didn’t simply tell the proponents to do more work on the proposal to ensure it was a net benefit to the state:
From the evidence that I understand was provided last week, those discussions may very well have occurred in the meeting.
She goes on to say nothing would be built if the government only ever followed the Treasury’s advice.
She said she may been persuaded that “we needed to appease the rural and regional communities” after the Orange byelection loss:
We would have gauged whether there was community support. I think the government was very sensitive, or frightened or scared ... of parts of regional NSW turning away from the government.
Robertson asks why she supported the grant proposal.
She can’t recall but speculates that it was because it would “raise our stocks” in the regions after the government lost the Orange byelection:
The only thing I recall when I heard about this grant through this process was its proximity to the Orange byelection.
Berejiklian is showed a briefing note from one of her staff about the grant in November 2016. At the time, Maguire was a parliamentary secretary, so he couldn’t put forward a submission to the cabinet committee.
The briefing note suggests a meeting took place between Maguire and Berejiklian about it.
Berejiklian says she has no recollection of a meeting. She says it is possible a meeting took place.
Berejiklian does agree that she indicated her support for the submission. She says that was not irregular.
She can’t remember whether the submission was supported by the Treasury.
She’s shown a document clearly showing that it wasn’t because a “net benefit for the state has not been demonstrated”:
I think all treasurers would note that this was generally Treasury’s default position.
Questioning turns to clay target grant
First, Scott Robertson makes clear there is no evidence of wrongdoing concerning Brad Hazzard or Dominic Perrottet, who were mentioned earlier.
The questions now turn to the $5.5m grant to the Australian Clay Target Association, which Daryl Maguire was advocating for in 2016.
Gladys Berejiklian, the then-treasurer, was chair of a powerful cabinet subcommittee that considered the grant.
She’s asked whether she directed that the grant should be placed on to the agenda of the committee. She says she can’t recall.
Berejiklian says a minister may have suggested it be added to the agenda months earlier, and she simply acted on that direction.
She also says she has no recollection of Maguire raising the grant with her before the committee’s consideration of it:
It’s a possibility, but it’s an equal possibility that a minister raised it.
Just to recap on this morning’s crucial evidence, Icac played a number of recordings of intercepted messages and phone conversations between Gladys Berejikilian and Daryl Maguire.
The most significant was a series from 16 May 2018. That’s a few months before Maguire was forced to resign from parliament.
First, we see a message sent from Maguire to Berejiklian about 11am in which he complains about a lack of funding for local projects in his electorate of Wagga Wagga in the forthcoming budget. He says:
I just went to see treasurer staff ! No money for stage 3 Wagga hospital needs 170 million , no money Tumut hospital ! No money north Wagga school , just piddling sum for graffiti removal ? Gee
Counsel assisting the commission Scott Robertson then played a phone conversation from a few hours later, about 4.30pm. In it, Maguire again complains about the lack of funding:
I said, ‘You better fucking make sure Wagga’s got money otherwise there’s gonna be a riot on your hands.’
I’ll deal with it. I’ll fix it.
Then, about two hours later, on another call, Berejiklian says:
I just spoke to Dom and I said put the 140 in the budget. He goes, ‘No worries.’ He just does what I ask I ask him to.
Maguire again complains that he wants $170m for Wagga hospital, to which Berejiklian responds:
Whatever it is, 170 I said ... I think it’s around 140, I said, ‘Just put it in.’ He’s putting it in whatever it is, OK.
The calls were played after Berejiklian had been denying to Robertson that Maguire had a different level of access to her as any other backbench MP.
After the clips were played, Robertson put it to her that “if it was someone else raising these kinds of concerns you wouldn’t have taken those steps”.
She denied that, saying she couldn’t recall the details of the conversation but that it wouldn’t have been possible to intervene in the way she suggested on the call if the project hadn’t already been funded, and that if another “irate” colleague had contacted her she still would have intervened.
An hour of bombshell evidence at Icac
We’ve just adjourned for a brief break.
Well, what an hour that was. Here’s what we learned:
- Gladys Berejiklian offered to “fix” a grievance her then secret lover had about not getting $170m for Wagga hospital in his electorate in the 2018 budget. In a secretly recorded conversation, Berejiklian offered to call Dominic Perrottet. She told Daryl Maguire that Perrottet “does what I ask him to”. Within two hours, the budget had changed to include the money. Maguire still complained that there wasn’t money for Tumut hospital and a school. Berejiklian said: “I can’t fix everything else.”
- Berejiklian denied repeatedly that she’d treated Maguire favourably. She said she treated him like any other MP.
- She also repeatedly denied that she suspected Maguire was engaged in corrupt conduct, despite him telling her of a $1.5m debt that he was going to resolve by his involvement in a land deal near the western Sydney airport.
- Berejiklian said she didn’t declare the relationship with Maguire because there was no personal benefit for her. She was quizzed on why she declared that her two cousins work in the public service, but not that Maguire, a sitting MP, was her lover. She said she didn’t feel confident in the relationship with Maguire or his commitment to it.
- Asked how she responded to her former colleagues who say she should have declared the Maguire relationship, Berejiklian said that “they weren’t in it. So they wouldn’t have known my state of mind”.
Another intercept is played. This has also been played previously.
In the recording, Gladys Berejiklian relays a message that former minister Niall Blair is going to take up matters on Daryl Maguire’s behalf about a potential business failure and regional jobs during a trade mission in China.
The business had nothing to do with Wagga Wagga, Maguire’s electorate.
In the call, Berejiklian says:
It’s none of my business, I’m just letting you know.
They’re petrified that I’m going to interfere. And I will. This is people’s life’s work, of course I’m going to interfere.
In a separate recording, Maguire talks of going to China. He says Blair doesn’t want him to go to China:
I said I’ll go where I please, but if you manage to get some movement and get a result ... I don’t want to go, but I’m not going to let this company fold and go under. They don’t get it. It’s all about the minister.
Maguire says there’s been “some movement” on the issue. Berejiklian responds:
That’s good, do you still need to go if it get’s fixed?
No, that’s what I’m pushing for.
Scott Robertson asks Berejiklian whether she suspected Maguire was engaged in corrupt conduct? She says she did not.
Robertson asks her why she didn’t tell Maguire to butt out and not risk an important trade mission.
I didn’t think to do that.
Robertson is pressing the ex-premier here. He asks how it could not have crossed her mind that it was “strange, unusual or unexpected” that a sitting member of parliament was saying he would make $1.5m out of a property deal.
Berejiklian says she would not have given it a second thought:
It wouldn’t have crossed my mind that it would have materialised. I would have assumed it was pie-in-the-sky and I wouldn’t have given it any more thought.
Berejiklian denies she suspected Maguire was acting corruptly on airport land deals
The questioning shifts to Gladys Berejiklian’s knowledge of Daryl Maguire’s debts. Prior evidence suggested she was aware that Maguire had a debt of about $1.5m in September 2017.
Another series of wiretaps are played. These have been heard at a previous hearing.
In the first, Maguire says he is in $1.5m of debt and invites the premier to repeat that number. He then says the debt will be resolved soon.
In the second, he says he’s finally got the “Badgerys Creek stuff” resolved, which would help him pay off debt. That reference was to a land deal Maguire was seeking to make for the sale of land near the western Sydney airport.
He said he believed he could make a $1.5m commission from the sale. Berejiklian says something like: “I can believe it.”
Did you suspect that Mr Maguire may have been or was engaged in corrupt conduct?
I did not.
She goes on:
I did not pay too much attention to that because he was always talking big and I didn’t pay much attention to it ... I never thought he was doing anything untoward.
Robertson asks her whether it didn’t strike her as strange that Maguire could make $1.5m in a secondary job while in parliament. She says she didn’t take Maguire seriously.
No, I don’t think I would have paid it any attention. I don’t think I even listened properly.
Gladys Berejiklian again insists she was able to separate her private life from her public duties.
All her decisions were made in the best interests of the public, she says.
For many of us, we deal with colleagues on a day-to-day basis, for some of them we have affection, for some of them we don’t. But at the end of the day, we need to make decisions in the best interests of the community.
Scott Robertson asks whether she was concerned there may have been a perception of influence over her decision making on projects Daryl Maguire was advocating for.
I always work within the law. I would always make sure that every decision that I took was in the best interests of the community, but also in the best interest of the government.
Your colleagues have said the relationship should have been disclosed, do you disagree with that?
They weren’t in it [the relationship]. So they wouldn’t have known my state of mind or the status of it.
Robertson asks again: why didn’t you declare your close personal relationship with Maguire?
We didn’t share finances. We didn’t live together. I was not confident in his level of commitment. I did not regard him as a member of my family.
Robertson asks whether she shared finances with her cousins? Berejiklian says she didn’t, but says they are her “blood” relatives.
Does she live with her cousins? No, Berejiklian says.
Robertson asks how she draws a line between the two relationships, one of which was disclosed, and the other was not.
Berejiklian says she was uncertain about the nature of the relationship with Maguire and didn’t feel comfortable with his level of commitment.
We’re now back on to Berejiklian’s failure to declare the relationship as a potential conflict of interest, in line with the ministerial code.
She said she had understood that such conflicts only needed to be declared if there was a personal benefit to her.
For example, building a hospital, is not a personal benefit for me.
Robertson asks her why, then, did she declare that two of her cousins worked in the public service.
She says she was concerned they might be treated favourably because of their relation to her.
Are you seriously saying you would take exactly the same course ... if it was anyone else other than Daryl Maguire?
Yes, I’m confident that I would have.
Would she have taken these steps if it was anyone else, other than Maguire?
I don’t accept that. If a colleague contacted me and there was a project or something that they felt strongly about that had been omitted inadvertently, or they were pushing, I would often text the relevant minister if there was a problem.
Berejiklian is asked about the recordings. Do they show she had the budget papers changed within two hours after Maguire’s request for money for the Wagga hospital:
Not at all, I wouldn’t read that. That would have been impossible to do unless the project was already ready to go ... you can’t just add line items in like that.
Further recording extracts are played. Daryl Maguire complains again of the lack of funding for the Wagga hospital.
Gladys Berejiklian says she fixed the Wagga hospital issue:
I can’t fix everything else.
Maguire presses Berejiklian on whether money would be given for Tumut hospital. She asks him not to start with that “rubbish” and says she’s given him $170m for the Wagga hospital.
He asks her to find at least $500,000 or $1m for the Tumut hospital.
Berejiklian tells him to text Brad Hazzard:
You can’t have me fixing all the problems all the time.
Another telephone intercept is played from two hours after the first phone call.
Gladys Berejiklian says:
I’ve already got you the Wagga hospital ... I just spoke to Dom [Dominic Perrottet] and I said, ‘Just put the $140 in the budget.’ He goes, ‘No worries.’ He does what I ask him to.
It is supposed to be 170.
Whatever it is ... he is putting it in whatever it is, OK?
Maguire says “we will fucking lose Wagga” and there would be nothing to use to defend the seat.
Berejiklian asks Maguire not to get worked up and says:
All you do is shout at me sometimes.
Maguire says the Tumut hospital is the key to winning the seat.
Berejiklian offered to 'fix it' when Maguire complained of lack of money in budget
Icac plays a recording of a phone call on the afternoon the texts were sent (in May 2018, for those playing at home).
Daryl Maguire complains of his conversation with the Treasury about the lack of money for Wagga Wagga in the budget.
He recalls saying to the Treasury:
No money for Wagga, you’ll have a fucking riot on your hands.
Gladys Berejiklian says:
I’ll deal with it. I’ll fix it.
Robertson asks whether Maguire was put in a preferential position when he asked for help on particular projects? Berejiklian says he was not:
I was always able to distinguish between my private life and my public responsibilities.
She’s taken to another text exchange with Maguire, in which he complains about lack of money for schools and hospitals in his electorate in 2018, well before the byelection in Wagga Wagga caused by his resignation. He also complained of “no line items”.
Was this taken as a request to intervene?
I took that as his frustration at those matters and I assumed he would be pursuing those issues with the minister for health and treasurer.
A terse exchange just now.
Would Maguire talk to her about “roadblocks” and other issues with projects he was advocating for?
So would other colleagues.
Are you having some difficulty with my questions?
Berejiklian says she is concerned Robertson is “skewing” the fact that all colleagues had access to her and advocated for projects.
And we’re back on.
Scott Robertson asks again about Daryl Maguire’s level of access to Gladys Berejiklian.
She denies that he had more access to her than other backbenchers or parliamentary secretaries.
Maguire did advocate to you directly about projects he was campaigning for?
So would all my other colleagues.
She says he advocated to her “exactly” the same way as other MPs.
Robertson jumps on the language. He asks if Berejiklian is seriously suggesting Maguire advocated in “exactly” the same way as other colleagues.
What I’m saying to you Mr Robertson is that every colleague has a different style and way of advocating … and certainly all of my colleagues would have felt like they had access to me.
Berejiklian was also asked during that questioning whether Maguire was given a key to her home. She said he was.
I take it you’ve changed your locks?
As you’ve seen, Scott Robertson spent time grilling Gladys Berejiklian on whether she considered Daryl Maguire part of her “family”. She repeatedly denied that she considered him family “in a legal sense”, prompting Robertson to ask her at one stage to “let the lawyers worry about the law”.
She had “very strong feelings” for Maguire, she said, but “not in the sense there was a significant declaration to make”.
Berejiklian has started fairly combatively, giving lengthy answers to Robertson’s questioning.
It’s prompted the commissioner, Ruth McColl AO, to ask her to stick to answering the questions and “not making speeches” twice so far.
Quick recap: Icac pulls no punches, Berejiklian sticks by decision not to disclose Maguire relationship
That gives us time to draw a collective breath.
Counsel assisting Scott Roberston did not muck around there.
- The first question to Gladys Berejiklian was whether, given her time again, she would have disclosed her relationship with former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire. The premier’s answer was a resolute no.
- Berejiklian stuck by her claim that the relationship was not of sufficient significant to disclose.
- She was then taken to a SMS exchange with Maguire in which she described him as “family”. That prompted some back and forth over whether Berejiklian did indeed consider Maguire as family. She said not in a legal sense, she said, or in a way that met the definition in the ministerial code. But eventually she conceded she saw him as family, just not in the same way she’d consider her mother or sisters.
- Berejiklian was asked whether Maguire had greater access to her than other MPs. She denied it. She said all MPs in her government had equal opportunity to meet and speak with her and invited Icac to take a straw poll of her colleagues.
- The inquiry is now briefly suspended for technical reasons.
The inquiry is adjourned due to a technical issue with the live stream. It does appear that the stream is down for some people.
We’ll be back shortly.
Gladys Berejiklian is asked whether she believes a significant aspect of public trust in government is that public money is spent in the public interest.
She responds: “Absolutely.”
Did Daryl Maguire have greater access to her than other MPs?
She disagrees with the proposition:
I would say all my colleagues had equal access to me.
The commissioner reminds Berejiklian not to make speeches and to stick to the questions.
Berejiklian is being pressed to specify the nature of her relationship with Maguire. She accepts she considered him as family, but in a different way to her mother or sisters:
In my mind, whilst I expressed that from an emotional perspective, and for someone I derived emotional strength, I wouldn’t have put him in the same category as my family or sisters.
Berejiklian insists she did not regard Maguire as family.
No I did not regard him as a member of my family. I had strong feelings for him.
I don’t want to diminish the strengh of feeling I had for him... I had very strong feelings for him. But I didn’t feel the relationship was at a stage that I’d introduce him to my parents or sisters.
Did you regard him as part of the family?
I never regarded him as family in terms of the ministerial code; we didn’t share any finances.
Robertson says he doesn’t want to talk about the ministerial code. Did she consider Daryl Maguire part of the family?
Not in a legal sense, no.
She’s then shown an SMS from 12 April 2018. In the text, Maguire urges Berejiklian to do her job and says: “I am your biggest support, go back and do your job.”
But you are my family.
Berejiklian is asked to explain the text. She says her feelings were that he was part of the family. But she didn’t regard him as family in any legal sense.
Scott Robertson is straight into the hard questions here. Not messing about.
He takes Gladys Berejiklian’s answer as a “no”.
Robertson draws Berejiklian’s attention to Daryl Maguire’s evidence from yesterday about the feelings he had for the ex-premier.
Did Berejiklian have similar feelings?
I had those feelings but I was never assured of a level of commitment which in my mind would have required me to introduce him to my parents, or introduce him to my sisters, or regard it as sufficiently significant.
Scott Robertson, counsel assisting, immediately asks the ex-premier whether she would have disclosed the personal relationship with Daryl Maguire, if she had her time again.
I didn’t feel it was of sufficient standing or sufficient significance to do that.
Berejiklian's evidence begins
Gladys Berejiklian has just been sworn in and is about to begin her evidence.
Gladys Berejiklian was all smiles as she arrived at Icac this morning.
Not long now until she faces the questioning of Scott Robertson, counsel assisting Icac.
A key question that has emerged during the hearings is this: should Gladys Berejiklian have declared her relationship with Daryl Maguire as a potential conflict of interest?
Well, according to a former premier, a former deputy premier and the current deputy Liberal leader, the answer is a resounding yes.
Icac heard last week from former premier Mike Baird, who said he was “incredulous” at the revelation of the secret relationship and said it “should have been disclosed”.
Deputy Liberal leader Stuart Ayres said the conflict should have been disclosed when a proposal for the shooting range grant went before a powerful cabinet committee Berejiklian chaired as the then-treasurer in 2017.
“I would have been concerned that a conflict needed to be managed,” Ayres told the inquiry.
The former deputy premier John Barilaro also said the relationship should have been disclosed. He told Icac that the decision to approve the $5.5m clay target grant via the committee was “deeply unusual”:
The underlying fact is there should have been a disclosure of a conflict of interest of the relationship.
You can safely expect Berejiklian will face a barrage of questions on this topic during her evidence.
Berejiklian arrives at Icac
Gladys Berejiklian has arrived at Icac to give evidence this morning.
She spoke briefly to reporters, thanking the public for their support.
So what did Daryl Maguire tell the inquiry on Thursday, and why did it matter?
It didn’t make for comfortable watching, but counsel assisting the inquiry, Scott Robertson, asked the former MP for specific details about his secret relationship with Gladys Berejiklian.
They were in love, the former MP confirmed, and had discussed getting married and having children together. They often stayed at each other’s homes, and he had a key to her house, which, he said, she never asked him to return. He also told Robertson the relationship was “physically intimate”.
There were some criticisms of the questioning, and Berejiklian’s lawyer, Sophie Callan SC, unsuccessfully sought to have it heard in private. But, as Robertson argued, there were good reasons for asking the questions.
As I’ve said in the previous post, one of the key questions for Icac is whether Berejiklian acted in circumstances where she had a conflict due to a “private interest”. A private interest under the NSW ministerial code of conduct, as Robertson pointed out yesterday, is not limited to a financial benefit.
But determining the extent of the relationship was, he argued, key to establishing whether Berejiklian had a private interest. And the former premier has, since it was first revealed, continually downplayed the significance of her relationship with Maguire. Last year she told a Sydney radio station: “He wasn’t my boyfriend. He wasn’t anything of note.”
The commission also heard evidence Berejiklian fed Maguire information about projects he had lobbied for in his electorate, and continued speaking to him following his resignation after an appearance at a separate Icac inquiry in 2018.
In one tapped phone call in which he complained about “roadblocks” to securing funding for a project, she replied:
I know but you’re still getting everything. We ticked off your conservatorium the other day, that’s a done deal now.
Before we hear from Gladys Berejiklian, it might be worth refreshing our memories about what Icac’s investigation is all about.
In 2018, Daryl Maguire, the longtime Liberal party MP from Wagga Wagga, fronted an Icac investigation known as Operation Dasha, which focused on allegations of corruption within a local council in Sydney.
During the course of Maguire’s evidence to that inquiry, telephone intercepts were played between him and a councillor from 2016 in which they discussed the possibility of earning commissions on the sale of development sites which they wanted to help broker.
Maguire eventually resigned from the parliament, but Icac launched a separate investigation into his affairs. Named Operation Keppel, it held public hearings in October last year which revealed Maguire had tried to “monetise” his position as an MP, including by making hundreds of thousands of dollars off a western Sydney land deal.
The inquiry didn’t exactly make front-page news, until Berejiklian appeared as a witness. In one of the most significant moments in the state’s recent political history, the then premier told Icac she and Maguire had been in a “close personal relationship” since at least 2015.
We’ve heard this week that most of her senior staff members, and close political allies including former premier Mike Baird, only heard about the relationship when she was in the witness stand. “Incredulous” was how Baird described his reaction at the time.
More significant was the fact that Icac had tapped Maguire’s phone, and recordings played in the hearing revealed he had told the premier about money he stood to make from the land deals he was attempting to broker using his influence as an MP.
“I don’t need to know about that bit,” she was heard saying on the call.
A year later, Icac announced that it had broadened the focus of its investigation to include the conduct of Berejiklian herself. When the watchdog announced she was a focus of the investigation at the beginning of this month, she immediately resigned.
At the heart of the investigation are two key questions: did Berejiklian breach the public trust by exercising her public duties in circumstances where she was “in a position of conflict” due to her relationship with Maguire, and did she breach her legal duties under the state’s Icac Act by failing to report conduct she had reason to suspect on “reasonable grounds” may have been corrupt.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Gladys Berejiklian’s evidence to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
It’s been a month almost to the day since Berejiklian sensationally resigned as NSW premier, having a dig at Icac on her way out.
We’ve learned a lot since then.
Berejiklian now faces a series of burning questions about her involvement in the awarding of two grants – the $5.5m given to the Australian Clay Target Association’s clubhouse and convention centre in 2017, and $30m for the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga in 2018.
Her secret lover, the disgraced ex-Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire, had been advocating for both.
On Thursday, in an explosive day of evidence, Icac heard damning phone calls in which Berejiklian told Maguire she would “throw money” at his former seat of Wagga Wagga after his resignation from parliament, and asked for his “advice” about what projects should be funded to retain the seat.
She told Maguire that funding for one of two grants was a “done deal” after he complained about “roadblocks” on his “money projects”.
Strap yourselves in. We’re due to hear from the former premier at 10am.