Text messages have revealed ex-government MP Daryl Maguire’s private nickname for Gladys Berejiklian during their almost five-year “close personal relationship”.
The NSW Premier on Monday told the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), which is investigating Mr Maguire, the pair began a relationship in 2015 but it ended a few months ago.
The 50-year-old said she had a "personal attachment" to the 61-year-old fellow politician. The Premier said she had never revealed it before because she’s a “very private person".
Text messages from February 11 in 2014 were presented to the ICAC on Monday afternoon as Ms Berejiklian testified via audio-visual link.
“Hawkiss good news. One of my contacts sold a motel for 5.8 million I had put her in contact so I should make 5k,” Mr Maguire sent at 7.54am.
Hawkiss, or hokis/hogi depending on the dialect, is an Armenian term of endearment meaning “my soul” or “beloved”.
“Congrats!!! Great News!! Woo hoo,” Ms Berejiklian responded three minutes later.
Mr Maguire went on to tell the Premier the deal should be closed at 12pm on the same day.
“That is really good…” Ms Berejiklian said before the pair entered a discussion about Mr Maguire’s commission.
They last spoke on September 13 – less than a month ago – and Ms Berejiklian ceased communication only after agreeing to attend the ICAC inquiry.
Mr Maguire is accused of using his public office and parliamentary resources to improperly gain a benefit for himself or for G8way International, a company Mr Maguire allegedly "effectively controlled".
Mr Maguire was forced to quit Ms Berejiklian's government in 2018 after a separate ICAC inquiry heard evidence he sought payments to help broker deals for property developers.
Ms Berejiklian told the inquiry on Monday the ex-Wagga Wagga MP had told her about some of his business interests and she presumed he had appropriately disclosed them.
"That was his business, I'm an independent woman with my own finances. I would never, ever consider my position in relation to someone else's in that regard," Ms Berejiklian said.
She also admitted that over the course of their relationship, Mr Maguire frequently spoke of his finances and was "obsessed" by them.
But she denied deliberately blinding herself to information about Mr Maguire's financial interests and attempts to clear his $1.5 million debt - now under the ICAC spotlight - in order to maintain plausible deniability on the matter.
"I would never, ever, ever turn a blind eye from any responsibility that I had to disclose any wrongdoing that I saw, or any activity that I thought was not in keeping with what a member of parliament should be doing," Ms Berejiklian told the inquiry.
"I would suggest that I was either not interested or I thought what he was raising with me was fanciful. He was a big talker.
"A lot of the time, I would have ignored a lot of what he said as fanciful and information that I didn't care to be involved in or interested in."
Berejiklian calls Maguire her ‘numero uno’
Ms Berejiklian encouraged her covert boyfriend and declared "numero uno" Mr Maguire in a 2017 conversation to quit parliament at the 2019 NSW election so they could make their relationship public, the anti-corruption inquiry has heard.
She believed at the time Mr Maguire had the same desire.
"I did consider what my private life might look like, were that to occur," Ms Berejiklian said.
After he was forced to quit in 2018, Ms Berejiklian said she was "pleased and relieved" he resigned.
‘Tickle from up top’
Ms Berejiklian was dragged into the saga last week when the ICAC heard Mr Maguire gave Louise Waterhouse, a western Sydney landowner, Ms Berejiklian's personal email address to help her lobby for rezoning changes that would benefit a parcel of her land.
ICAC heard Mr Maguire passed on the email address and suggested the premier would be able to provide a "tickle from up top", but Ms Waterhouse said Ms Berejiklian never responded.
Ms Berejiklian confirmed on Monday no action was taken in relation to Ms Waterhouse's "irregular" email, and it hadn't been forwarded to another department.
Ms Berejiklian's ex-chief of staff Sarah Cruikshank last week also declared she ordered Mr Maguire to "cease and desist" as he threatened to fly to China at the same time as an official trade mission over a business deal involving a south NSW dairy.
Calls for NSW Premier to resign
Ms Berejiklian has facing heavy backlash after her relationship with Mr Maguire was revealed to the public, with NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay calling for the 50-year-old to resign immediately.
“Gladys Berejiklian cannot walk in to the parliament tomorrow as Premier of NSW, given her evidence at ICAC today. She must resign,” Ms McKay wrote on Twitter.
Gladys Berejiklian cannot walk in to the parliament tomorrow as Premier of NSW, given her evidence at ICAC today. She must resign.— Jodi McKay (@JodiMcKayMP) October 12, 2020
"If you thought you knew Gladys Berejiklian, think again," Ms McKay also told reporters.
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman and Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres have publicly backed Ms Berejiklian.
"Gladys Berejiklian has led the state through the last six months in its most testing period of time, she's got my full support," Mr Ayres said.
The inquiry continues.
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