I loved him ... but I’ll never speak to him again

As Gladys Bere­jik­lian in­sists she did noth­ing wrong in the Maguire Af­fair, she re­vealss sheshe’ss em­bar­rassed to ad­mit she fell in love, writes s An­nette Sharp

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - FRONT PAGE -

AFTER a bru­tal week of ICAC hear­ings and ‘hu­mil­i­at­ing’ rev­e­la­tions of a se­cret love af­fair with dis­graced MP Daryl Maguire, NSW Premier Gladys Bere­jik­lian opens up about the shame of be­ing caught up in a cor­rup­tion scan­dal. In her first in­ter­view, Ms Bere­jik­lian says she was in love, thought they would marry and now has all-but given up on ro­mance. She con­tin­ues to main­tain she did noth­ing wrong.

Ashat­tered Gladys Bere­jik­lian has ad­mit­ted she loved the man she had to sack “bru­tally” from gov­ern­ment in 2018, dis­graced Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire, and she had hoped to one day marry him. Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to The Sun­day Tele­graph yes­ter­day, the NSW Premier said she is pay­ing a painful price for loving and trust­ing Mr Maguire, who had em­bar­rassed her and left her feel­ing “silly” after she was dragged be­fore ICAC’s cor­rup­tion in­quiry last week.

After shed­ding bit­ter tears “in pri­vate” dur­ing the week, a re­served Premier said she will never speak to Maguire again, such is the per­sonal and pro­fes­sional in­jury he has done her after she learned, via the in­quiry, the ex­tent to which he hawked her name around town to busi­ness as­so­ci­ates and used gov­ern­ment re­sources in his dodgy side­line en­ter­prises.

“I’m never go­ing to speak to him again,” she said, sound­ing rat­tled by the events of re­cent days. “My life’s changed for­ever.”

The ro­man­ti­cally in­ex­pe­ri­enced politi­cian’s pri­vate life was laid bare be­fore ICAC’s in­quiry, some­thing that has left her “em­bar­rassed and hu­mil­i­ated” – a new low for a woman with an im­pec­ca­ble rep­u­ta­tion. “I can for­mally say to peo­ple I’ve given up on love, love,” she said. “I’m just go­ing to say I have al­ways put my job first, rightly or wrongly, and that will now con­tinue in­def­i­nitely.”

De­scrib­ing the events of the past week as “hor­rific”, Ms Bere­jik­lian said she spent the week feel­ing like she was hav­ing an out-of-body ex­pe­ri­ence after be­ing called as a wit­ness be­fore ICAC.

“I’m still try­ing to process it. I feel like it’s some­one else liv­ing this … It’s like I’m the main pro­tag­o­nist in a movie. It’s like I’m the fea­ture and the film is go­ing to end and my life is go­ing to go back to nor­mal but it will never be nor­mal again.”

For a pri­vate woman who has never mar­ried and never spo­ken in pub­lic about her love life, be­ing put through the wringer by ICAC in an open ses­sion that seemed to un­nec­es­sar­ily plumb the depths of her pri­vate life and was much dis­sected by the me­dia, was a mor­ti­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Un­til last week, she had not even told her own fam­ily about her years-long af­fair with Maguire.

She con­firmed yes­ter­day she still hasn’t dis­cussed it in any de­tail with her Ar­me­nian mi­grant par­ents, Krikor and Ar­sha,

who dur­ing her younger years ac­tively at­tempted to “match­make” their pro­fes­sion­ally ab­sorbed daugh­ter.

Sworn to se­crecy be­fore giv­ing her tes­ti­mony last week, the Premier in­formed her sis­ters, Mary and Rita, that some­thing was in the wind at the start of the week be­fore ask­ing them to take care of their oc­to­ge­nar­ian par­ents.

“I told my sis­ters that I

Did she hope it might lead to mar­riage? “I thought it could, yes,” she replied.

was go­ing to have a rough week but I didn’t give them de­tails. I said you’re go­ing to hear some­thing shock­ing on Mon­day and I’ll talk to you af­ter­wards be­cause I re­ally wasn’t able to go into any de­tail about any­thing, for ob­vi­ous (le­gal) rea­sons,” she said. “I told them to be ready, and I told them to make sure they looked after mum and dad in case I didn’t have time to, be­cause it was go­ing to be pretty bru­tal.”

Mary and Rita, who have seen their el­dest sib­ling weather many storms dur­ing her po­lit­i­cal life, took the warning a “bit lightly”, Ms Bere­jik­lian said. “I tried to hint at what would be re­ally em­bar­rass­ing for me but I didn’t want to go into de­tail (and s said) I would talk to them a af­ter­wards and then I haven haven’t re­ally had a chanc chance...”

In h her first in­ter­view, the Premi Premier con­firmed she was still em emo­tion­ally raw from her we week in ICAC’s spotlig spot­light. The cir­cum­spect langu lan­guage used by Ms

Ber Bere­jik­lian to de­scribe he her re­la­tion­ship with Maguire dur­ing the in­quiry only served to pro­voke greater me­dia in­trigue in the af­fair, one she’s still re­luc­tant to de­fine.

When the words “boyfriend” and “part­ner” are sug­gested, she winces. “It was hard to de­fine be­cause it wasn’t of a suf­fi­cient sta­tus,” she says am­bigu­ously. “It wasn’t a tra­di­tional type of re­la­tion­ship.”

What it was, in the sim­plest of terms, was a friend­ship be­gun at par­lia­ment 20 years ago that, ac­cord­ing to her, be­came some­thing more in around 2015 when the pair be­came in­ti­mate.

But, with Maquire liv­ing in the Wagga Wagga elec­torate and Ms Bere­jik­lian based in Syd­ney, the cou­ple saw each other in­fre­quently: “Some­times if par­lia­ment was sit­ting but very in­fre­quently,” she said.

When asked if she fell in love with Maguire, with whom she ad­mits she only had pub­lic ser­vice work in com­mon, the Premier stiff­ened: “I did. That’s all I’ll say. I’m em­bar­rassed now, but I did.”

In her mid-for­ties, when the af­fair be­gan, she ad­mits she hoped the re­la­tion­ship might lead to mar­riage.

“I thought it could, yes,” she replied.

“We were friends for a long time. We were in par­lia­ment to­gether for a long time. I was elected in

2003. He was elected in

1999. He was a col­league … we be­came close friends and were friends for a long time. Over time (we) got closer.”

But not close enough for her to in­tro­duce Maguire to her Ar­me­nian-Aus­tralian fam­ily: “I wouldn’t have wanted to in­tro­duce him un­less it was def­i­nitely go­ing to go any­where.”

She said she fell for Maguire, iron­i­cally, be­cause she trusted him. “The irony is be­cause I trusted him … be­cause I’d known him for a long time (and) trusted him,” she said. “Around the traps he was a gen­er­ally like­able per­son, down to earth. Not ev­ery­body liked him but then in pol­i­tics not ev­ery­body does.”

She bat­ted away fur­ther ques­tions about the pair­ing say­ing she finds it too “em­bar­rass­ing and hu­mil­i­at­ing” to talk about but said she only learned his nick­name was “Dodgy Daryl” re­cently.

“Be­ing a sin­gle woman with a high pub­lic pro­file, you’re not go­ing to have a con­ven­tional re­la­tion­ship are you? I was very young when I got into par­lia­ment, it was never go­ing to be easy y … (and) this was never go­ing g to be a con­ven­tional re­la­tion­ship be­cause of my job. I have been (mar­ried to the job) and I don’t mind that, it’s the truth. As corny as it is, it’s not re­ally the job … it’s the pub­lic ser­vice.

Serv­ing the pub­lic is what I love to do.” Close ob­servers noted her re­sponses to Maguire — “Nope … mmmm” — as recorded by ICAC in phone taps and played dur­ing the in­quiry, sounded less like a loved-up sweet­heart and more like a bored house­wife. “Yeah, I was com­pletely bored,” she said wearily. “It’s be­cause I wasn’t lis­ten­ing (to him). My staff said: ‘Glad, that’s what you do to us when you don’t want to lis­ten to what we’re say­ing’. One of them goes: ‘We even heard you turn­ing pages through that con­ver­sa­tion’.”

She said she dumped Maguire in 2018 after sack­ing him over the cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions — “I sacked him on the spot. It was pretty bru­tal” — though they re­mained in con­tact un­til ear­lier this year be­cause, she said, he was “friend­less”. Asked if she be­lieves Maguire was any good at the deals he was run­ning, she is blunt: “Clearly not. Ev­ery­thing he tried amounted to noth­ing.”

The Premier’s mis­for­tune has still struck a chord with vot­ers, who in­ter­rupt dur­ing our in­ter­view, one woman shout­ing: “It’s okay Gladys, ev­ery man I’ve ever been with has been a dud!”

Her elec­toral of­fice is filled with flow­ers and her mail­box over­flow­ing with let­ters of sup­port, yet the emo­tional im­pact has left her raw — as any­one might be when a love af­fair fails. Has Maguire apol­o­gised? “He’ll never have the chance be­cause I’ll never speak to him again,” she said.

When asked if she’s thought about quit­ting, she is adamant: “No, be­cause it’s a very low bench­mark to quit when you’ve done noth­ing wrong.”

An apol­ogy? He’ll never have the chance be­cause I’ll never speak to him again.

Gladys Bere­jik­lian opens up about feel­ing silly over her af­fair with Daryl Maguire. in­ter­view. Pic­ture: Sam Rut­tyn. Inset: Gladys and Daryl Maguire.

Gladys Bere­jik­lian chats with An­nette Sharp yes­ter­day and (be­low) is greeted by a fan.

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