Two years ago, former Liberal Member for the New South Wales state seat of Wagga Wagga, Daryl Maguire, was targeted by the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) for allegations he was using his public office for personal gain through commissions for Sydney property projects. Since that time, it has been shown he was also involved in a ‘cash for visas’ scheme. The surveillance included recording his phone conversations. Those phone conversations included some with the premier, Gladys Berejiklian. She was called to give evidence by ICAC and did so on October 12. To say there was a surprise in her evidence is an understatement. In it she admitted that she had been in a “close personal relationship” for five years with Daryl Maguire, who resigned in disgrace from NSW Parliament in 2018. The disturbing thing is that although Maguire was forced to leave parliament in 2018, Berejiklian’s relationship with him continued up until a “few months ago”1, saying: “When I was asked to support this inquiry, it became apparent to me that I should have absolutely no contact any more with that individual”2. That was a rather precipitous fall out of favour, from being a horizontal folk-dancing partner to being referred to as ‘that individual’ in a few months at most.
While many people were surprised at these revelations, and insisted Berejiklian should resign, her response was to maintain “Never, ever have I done anything but what is the highest standard of integrity. Where I have failed is in my personal life”3. This did not go down well with Samantha Maiden, who started off with “Sure, the love drugs dopamine and oxytocin are nice but women who date men are not brain damaged” and “…the idea that the NSW premier didn’t know at least some of what this bloke was up to is infantilising”4.
The recorded phone calls and text chains show that in 2014, Maguire told Berejiklian about a motel sale for which he should make $5,000. To this, Berejiklian replied “Congrats!!! Great News!! Woo hoo”. In a phonecall, Maguire told Berejiklian that the $330 million sale of a development site owned by the Waterhouse family next to the Western Sydney Airport site was close to being completed and he was looking forward to a big payday. Interestingly, Berejiklian replied in this phonecall: “That’s good. I don’t need to know about that bit”4. In her evidence she said she was ‘bored’ or ‘wasn’t interested’ and not because she wanted to remain in the dark; to have plausible deniability. Berejiklian assumed Maguire would make a full disclosure to parliament, but he didn’t4. If Berejiklian assumed that, you’d expect it to come up in pillow talk. But, apparently, it didn’t.
I have also seen tweets from assorted people attempting to state that ‘it’s a private matter’ and that who Berejiklian sleeps with is nobody’s business but hers. With that I would agree, as I indicated when the Beetrooter, Barnaby Joyce, was caught with his trousers down around his ankles. In Joyce’s case it was the hypocrisy and the corruption which were of interest5. Using this tactic is a deflection in much the same way as Berejiklian’s ‘I was a fool’ defence was. I reiterate, it is not the horizontal folk dancing, it is the corruption which is the issue.
What I find almost beyond belief, is the tacit acceptance that a parliamentarian who is receiving a hefty salary paid by the public, spends much of his time arranging business deals from which he gets a substantial cut. No wonder the nation is in such deep ordure, with people like that in parliament. In addition, anyone that believes Daryl Maguire is an outlier is deluding themselves. Compilations of government corruption like those presented here7, and by Michael West8, demonstrate that the problem is almost universal and systemic. The difference between the state sphere of politics and the federal sphere, is that the federal politicians get away with it because there is no equivalent integrity body like the NSW ICAC. This deep-seated systemic corruption has to stop. If it does not, then we will have to make it stop.