They’re rarely seen in public but a trio of Gladys Berejiklian’s closest aides will today be in the harsh glare of a corruption inquiry spotlight.
Three of the former NSW premier’s former advisers will testify on Tuesday – followed on Wednesday by her former secret boyfriend, disgraced ex-Liberal MP Daryl Maguire.
If these two days reveal as much as the previous six days of testimony, then Ms Berejiklian is in for an emotional rollercoaster ride before she even gets a chance to defend herself.
On Monday, the Independent Commission Against Corruption heard her former deputy John Barilaro thought Mr Maguire was ‘a pain in the a**e’ and that she should have revealed their relationship as it may have been a ‘conflict’.
Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) checks her phone while out for a walk in Sydney
Mr Barilaro said if he had known about the clandestine relationship between Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire, a controversial shooting centre funding proposal from the Australian Clay Target Association (ACTA) could have been handled differently.
ICAC is investigating whether Ms Berejiklian
1. Engaged in conduct between 2012 and 2018 that was ‘liable to allow or encourage the occurrence of corrupt conduct’ by former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire, with whom she was in a close personal relationship between 2015 and 2018
2. Exercised her official functions dishonestly or partially by refusing to exercise her duty to report any reasonable suspicions about Mr Maguire to the ICAC
3. Exercised any of her official functions partially in connection with two multimillion-dollar grants in Mr Maguire’s electorate, to the Australian Clay Target Association Inc and the Riverina Conservatorium of Music
‘It’s very possible because of the conflict that we would have managed it differently,’ said Mr Barilaro.
Ms Berejiklian’s years-long secret affair with the former Liberal MP was not revealed until a year ago when ICAC was investigating Mr Maguire.
But Ms Berejiklian’s barrister, Sophie Callan SC, sought to turn the tables on Mr Barilaro on Monday afternoon, asking if he had disclosed relationships of his own.
Mr Barilaro said he ‘would have’ disclosed any relationships, including family links.
‘What about any other intimate personal relationships?’ Ms Callan asked.
‘That’s a hard question because my relationships are with my family,’ Mr Barilaro said.
Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting Mr Barilaro has done anything improper in his personal or professional lives.
The ACTA shooting centre was to be located in Mr Maguire’s former electorate of Wagga Wagga and he was a keen backer of it getting state funding of $5.5million.
The ICAC is investigating if Ms Berejiklian was ‘liable to allow or encourage the occurrence of corrupt conduct’ by Mr Maguire, with whom she was in a ‘close personal relationship’ between 2015 and 2018.
Former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro leaves the Independent Commission Against Corruption hearing in Sydney on Monday, October 25, 2021
It’s also looking into whether she ‘exercised her official functions dishonestly or partially’ by not reporting any reasonable suspicions about Mr Maguire to the ICAC.
Neil Harley, Ms Berejikilan’s former chief of staff, is set to be the first witness called on Tuesday, followed by Brad Burden, project director at the Department of Defence, and Sarah Cruickshank, deputy secretary at the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
An email tendered into evidence at ICAC on Monday from Mr Maguire to his then lover Ms Berejiklian and her deputy Mr Barilaro featured a subject line of ‘Here we go on the merry go round again.’
It was a reference to the fact that Mr Maguire was again seeking to help an organisation in his electorate to get substantial, multi-million dollar funding.
Liberal MP Daryl Maguire, who was then the secret lover of NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian, took a humorous view of project funding requests in an email to Ms Berejiklian and her then deputy premier John Barilaro
Mr Barilaro was asked ICAC counsel Scott Robertson about the former premier’s relationship with Mr Maguire regarding funding promises made to the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga.
Ms Berejiklian was premier by the time the government’s expenditure review committee (ERC) signed off in 2018 on $10 million for the conservatorium to move to another premises.
Later that year the government also promised during a by-election – caused by Mr Maguire’s resignation – to award a further $20 million to fund the construction a recital hall.
That money still has not been paid.
‘There should have been a disclosure (of the relationship),’ Mr Barilaro said.
‘ERC decisions are taken seriously,’ he said.
Gladys Berejiklian’s former secret boyfriend Daryl Maguire was called ‘a pain in the arse … (like) a dog with a bone,’ in evidence given by former deputy premier John Barilaro to ICAC on Monday
Mr Robertson asked Mr Barilaro about Mr Maguire’s advocacy for projects in his electorate.
‘I would say he was a pain in the a**e … (like) a dog with a bone,’ he said.
ICAC witness list
Tuesday 26 – Neil Harley, former chief of staff to Gladys Berejiklian
Brad Burden, project director at Department of Defence
Sarah Cruickshank, deputy secretary at Department of Premier and Cabinet
Wednesday 27 – Daryl Maguire, former Liberal MP
Thursday 28 – Gladys Berejiklian, former premier of NSW
Friday 29 – Gladys Berejiklian
Mr Barilaro joined the ERC in November 2016 after he became leader of the NSW National Party and deputy premier.
Ms Berejiklian was then the state treasurer and chair of the ERC, which was considering the ACTA funding request.
Mr Barilaro agreed with Mr Robertson that Ms Berejiklian’s support for putting the ACTA application on the ERC agenda indicated she supported it.
The former NSW National Party leader said that if the relationship between Ms Berejiklian and Mr Maguire was known at the time, her cabinet colleagues would have expected the ‘treasurer would have excused herself from the debate’.
It was disclosed to the commission that he said in his private hearing that if the relationship had been known ‘I would not have supported the agenda item, I believe my colleagues would not have supported the agenda item.’
Mr Barilaro said he first became aware the ACTA was looking for funding was when it appeared on the ERC agenda in December 2016. It was the ‘third or the fourth’ ERC meeting he had attended.
Ms Berejiklian denies any wrongdoing.
Gladys Berejiklian (pictured right) is under investigation by ICAC for her conduct while NSW premier in relation to her former boyfriend, ex-MP Daryl Maguire (pictured left)
Former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured left) with her then sec