I was trying to protect Gladys: disgraced lover
FORMER MP MAGUIRE ADMITS CORRUPTION BUT CLAIMS HE SHIELDED BEREJIKLIAN FROM DODGY DEALS
Disgraced Liberal MP Daryl Maguire has admitted trying to shield Gladys Berejiklian from the full extent of his financial impropriety during their years-long relationship, conceding he knew the specifics would “cause her difficulties” in her role as NSW Premier.
The final day of Mr Maguire’s evidence to the Independent Commission Against Corruption concluded with blunt admissions from the former MP that he deliberately destroyed electronic devices to stymie the efforts of the investigation and misused his public office to seek a personal financial gain.
He agreed with the statement that he often used Ms Berejiklian as a “sounding board” on his personal affairs and spoke to her in “general terms” about his business activities.
Differences also emerged in the timeline of his relationship with Ms Berejiklian, which Mr Maguire said possibly began as early as 2013, but more likely towards the end of 2014. Ms Berejiklian told ICAC the relationship began after the March 2015 state election.
Mr Maguire’s admissions to shielding the Premier from his business arrangements raises questions about coded language used in some of the calls and why she — and not he — moved to shut down seemingly sensitive portions of their conversations.
On Friday Ms Berejiklian was pressed again on why she bluntly told Mr Maguire on multiple occasions in 2017 that she “didn’t need to know about that bit”, as their conversations veered into territory relating to the sale of land at Badgerys Creek in Sydney’s west.
“I spent six hours being very open and transparent and I refer you to those comments,” Ms Berejiklian said. “Hand on heart, I have done nothing wrong and I refer everyone to my evidence on Monday.”
Mr Maguire actively lobbied MPs on behalf of the racing family, but without declaring that he stood to gain a financial advantage from the sale of the land.
In one conversation with Ms Waterhouse he urged her to contact the Premier directly, handing out a private email for Ms Berejiklian that the racing heiress subsequently used to make contact. He also told her not to reveal who had provided the email because “all that stuff is ICAC-able”.
The Premier’s explanation for cutting off certain conversations with Mr Maguire was that she felt uninterested by the financial specifics of his business arrangements. She also said she was “bored and busy and wanted to move on” with the conversation.
Her opponents seized on the remarks that she “didn’t need to know” as evidence that the Premier was trying to limit her exposure to misconduct, a proposition that was also put to Ms Berejiklian numerous times during her appearance at the inquiry.
Politically, and in light of Mr Maguire’s evidence, Ms Berejiklian’s future as leader remains uncertain, according to Liberal MPs. While some colleagues remain supportive, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, others have found her conduct difficult to accept.
In particular they have queried why she maintained an intimate relationship with Mr Maguire for two years after sacking him from the Liberal Party over corruption allegations and issuing a statement expressing “deep disappointment” over his “letting down the people of NSW”.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Attorney-General Mark Speakman, both leadership contenders, have deflected questions about the possibility of nominating for Ms Berejiklian’s role should it become vacant. Both have supported her remaining in the job.
Asked at the press conference what it would take for her to step aside pending the outcome of the inquiry, Ms Berejiklian responded: “When I’ve done something wrong.”
Mr Maguire was formally
discharged from the ICAC hearing after a lengthy examination that traversed his conversations with the Premier, the motivation for his lobbying efforts, and the destruction of electronic devices that contained information relevant to the investigation.
During Mr Maguire’s three days of hearings he told of inviting property developer Joseph Alha for glasses of wine in his Parliament House office and to staging a “drop in” meeting with the Premier on Mr Alha’s insistence.
The hearing also heard that Mr Maguire was a silent director in a company, known as G8wayinternational, which boasted of high-level access to members of government and offered a “cash-for-visa” scheme that provided misleading information to immigration officials.
The former MP conceded that there was “a line” beyond which he would not share information with the Premier because of the potential for it to impact on her political office.
“I thought it would cause her difficulties so I limited the information that I gave her, yes,” he said. “It was a need-toknow basis. I didn’t want to burden her with details she didn’t need to know. I think it might put her in a really difficult position if I went into specifics of, of issues and all sorts of, you know, complexities that might be involved.”
Mr Maguire admitted to instructing staff to destroy sensitive records kept on electronic devices following an appearance at ICAC in 2018.
“I told them to wipe everything,” he said.
He conceded this was done in part to prevent investigators from obtaining further material, but also to wipe information unrelated to the case.
He told the hearing that instead of destroying a USB stick and a laptop, as he told staff, he dropped the USB stick mistakenly at the farm gate to his property, saying it must have “got run over several times”. The commission had heard previously that Mr Maguire said the USB device had met an “unfortunate end”.
Daryl Maguire arrives at ICAC for his third day of testimony; Gladys Berejiklian at a news conference on Friday