NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has resigned following the state’s corruption watchdog announcing it will investigate whether she breached public trust.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption said on Friday it would hold a public inquiry considering if Berejiklian breached public trust or encouraged corrupt conduct during her personal relationship with Daryl Maguire.
Berejiklian said on Friday afternoon she had “no option” but to resign after setting a standard that ministers should step aside if they were subject to any investigation into allegations of corruption.
But she said standing aside was not an option for her as premier, and she must resign.
“My first consideration has always been the wellbeing and welfare of people of this state,” she said.
Berejiklian said her resignation would take effect as soon as the NSW Liberal party was able to appoint a new leader.
“My resignation as premier could not occur at a worse time, but the timing is completely out of my control, as the ICAC has chosen to take this action during the most challenging weeks during the most challenging time of the state’s history,” she said.
She said she did not want to be a distraction for the government during a time when its focus should be on the pandemic.
“I want to thank the thousands of our frontline heroes who have kept us going through the darkest days in the state’s history,” Berejiklian said.
She also thanked “all the professional public servants with whom [she had] worked”.
The ICAC hearing will begin on October 18 and will question Berejiklian on grant funding for the Australian Clay Target Association in 2016-17, and for the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga in 2018.
It will also examine whether she refused to report any matter that she suspected could be corrupt conduct in relation to Maguire, and whether she was liable to allow or encourage the occurrence of corrupt conduct by Maguire.
Prime minister Scott Morrison was among Liberal politicians, and some Labor premiers, to speak highly of Berejiklian on Friday.
“I have no doubt Gladys will always conduct herself in a way that suits the integrity of the office she has held, and I know how seriously she takes that trust,” he said.
“I have always found Gladys to be a person of the highest integrity, she has been a trusted friend and a very respected colleague.”