GLADYS HAMMERED IN FIERY COVID UPDATE
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian copped a hammering from journalists in the final moments of what is expected to be her last daily Covid-19 media conference.
In a fiery few minutes, the Premier was grilled on whether her decision to end her daily appearances had anything to do with an ongoing Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation into her former boyfriend Daryl Maguire.
ICAC will continue its examinations this month into Mr Maguire, a former NSW state MP, with hearings set to focus on a $5.5m funding grant he obtained for his electorate with the assistance of Ms Berejiklian.
On Sunday, a reporter asked: “Is the reason we will see you less at the 11am conferences because you have been called to the ICAC?”
“Gosh,” Ms Berejiklian said. “I wish you would all be privy to the conversations we all had about the 11am press conferences; this is all about making (sure) that we provide good government of the people of NSW.”
Despite repeated questions on the subject, including multiple questions on if she would expect a member of cabinet to resign if they were under investigation by the watchdog, Ms Berejiklian remained tightlipped on the ICAC probe into Mr Maguire.
“I don't have anything to add on that matter,” she said. “It would be inappropriate to comment on those ongoing investigations and I have nothing further to say.”
Last month, ABC’s 7.30 reported Ms Berejiklian intervened in the assessment of a $5.5m grant to a shooting association in Mr Maguire’s electorate, months after he wrote to her asking for help to fund the project.
Documents tabled in parliament earlier this year include a June 2017 email where a top official from the Department of Regional NSW wrote to a staff member in Ms Berejiklian’s office to update him on the funding for the shooting facility.
“Just wanted you in the loop given Premier’s interest,” the official wrote.
Ms Berejiklian had become premier in January that year. The Premier has previously denied any wrongdoing.
ICAC previously heard Mr Maguire secretly attempted to gain from the grant although it is not suggested Ms Berejiklian was aware of his potential benefit.
It is understood ICAC will examine more witnesses this month.
Ms Berejiklian announced on Friday she would end her daily 11am Covid-19 press conferences on Sunday.
She has been heavily criticised for the decision, with many pundits pointing out NSW is likely to be just days away from its peak in cases, with hospitals to be overwhelmed by Covid patients in coming weeks.