Berejiklian told Maguire she would sack public servant over grants program in his electorate

By Jackson Graham

Friday October 29, 2021

Berejiklian
Gladys Berejiklian (Damian Shaw/AAP)

Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian told Liberal MP and then-partner Daryl Maguire that a public servant’s “head will be gone” after the state employee ‘fixed’ a grant proposal in Maguire’s electorate.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption played a recorded phone conversation of Berejiklian and Maguire discussing a proposal for the state government to give millions of dollars to the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Maguire’s electorate. 

Maguire made reference to a public servant, not named in the ICAC audio, who Berejiklian replied saying she “can’t stand”. 

“His head will be gone soon,” Berejiklian said.  

Maguire said he firstly wanted the conservatorium fixed. 

“Tell him to fix it and after he fixes it, I’m sacking him,” Berejiklian said. 

Responding to questions from the inquiry about whether she delayed sacking the public servant so he could finish the work Maguire wanted, Berejiklian pointed out she had not acted on the threat. 

That person is still in the public service today,” she told Friday’s hearing. “Obviously I didn’t do it.”

Maguire told Berejiklian ‘you need to get a private phone’

Maguire asked Berejiklian to get a private phone before he was called to front ICAC.

Berejiklian said she had no recollection of being asked to get the phone until confronted with the text messages expressing the request by the inquiry on Monday morning. 

She said she never followed through on the request to get a separate phone to use alongside the phone she used as a member of parliament. 

“I had no inclination to think he had done anything wrong, it could have been for privacy reasons,” Berejiklian said of why Maguire could have asked her to get the phone. 

The pair also discussed using WeChat and WhatsApp messaging services which encrypt messages. 

Berejiklian also said this was for privacy reasons and not because she had reason to believe Maguire had done something wrong.

Maguire property claims ‘pie in the sky’: Berejiklian

Earlier in the inquiry on Friday, the commission played Berejiklian taped phone conversations between her and Maguire from 2017 where he spoke of the land deal around Badgerys Creek on Sydney’s outskirts. 

Maguire had in another conversation also made Berejiklian aware he was $1.5 million in debt. 

Questioned over the recording, Berejiklian told the inquiry she did not think it was strange that an MP would earn the large sum off a land sale or believed Maguire could be involved in corrupt conduct. 

“I don’t even know if I listened properly,” she said, clarifying later she would not have believed the deal would materialise. “I would have assumed it was pie in the sky and I wouldn’t have given it any other thought.”

‘Got you the $170m in five minutes’ Berejiklian says of electorate hospital 

Berejiklian was also asked on Friday about phone conversations in which Maguire complained $170 million for the the Wagga Wagga Base Hospital, in his electorate, was omitted from the draft state budget and Berejiklian saying she’d “fix it”. 

The pair spoke two hours later when Berejiklian returned with a commitment from then-treasurer Dominic Perrottet for the project. 

“I have now got you the $170m in five minutes. You can’t have me fixing all the problems all the time,” she told Maguire. 

Asked whether she would treat other colleagues the same way, Berejiklian told the inquiry she would “absolutely do that”. 

She clarified that she would not have been able to secure the money for the hospital without it already being shovel-ready and she did not see any personal benefit from green lighting the project.

“Building a hospital is not a personal benefit to me, it is a community asset. It is something the electorate needs,” she said. “I would gain nothing but political favour or support from the community by supporting that project.” 

The inquiry quizzed her on why she disclosed under the ministerial code that two of her cousins were employed as NSW public servants, but did not declare her relationship with Maguire. 

“I did not regard there to be any impact on my public responsibility, and I did not think the relationship had a sufficient status for me to disclose it,” she said. “Had I been in a position I thought it would have been significant enough I would have, but I didn’t have confidence that was the case.” 

Berejiklian resigned as premier earlier this month when the corruption watchdog announced it would investigate whether during her relationship with Maguire she breached public trust. 

The inquiry is considering whether she encouraged the occurrence of corrupt conduct during the relationship.


READ MORE:

Gladys Berejiklian — a glittering career undone by two disastrous misjudgments

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