NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been grilled by reporters a day after she revealed she had a close personal relationship with an ex-MP being investigated for corruption.
During her daily coronavirus briefing, Ms Berejiklian was bombarded by journalists questioning how she could not have been aware former Wagga MP Daryl Maguire was allegedly using his public office to improperly gain a benefit for himself or for G8way International – a company he allegedly “effectively controlled”.
On Tuesday Ms Berejiklian faced a tough line of questioning, to which she responded she always acted in the best interests of the state and didn’t do anything wrong.
When a reporter asked the premier if she thought it was OK for MPs to get a cut from developers on the side, she scoffed at the question before saying she had made her comments known about that.
“I will not tolerate, never have, and never will, any improper conduct by any MP,” she said.
After text messages emerged on Monday of Mr Maguire telling Ms Berejiklian, “One of my contacts sold a motel for 5.8 million I had put her in contact so I should make 5k”, the premier was asked why she didn’t act and report him.
“Had I known any wrongdoing was done at any stage I would not have hesitated to act and I have acted very swiftly when I needed to and I am the first person to put up my hand and admit but I haven’t done anything wrong,” she said.
“At all times I have maintained a distinction between my personal and private life and the public office I hold.”
‘I really hate that it happened’
She was pressed again about why the text message did not raise alarm bells for her, and she responded there was a clear distinction between her personal life and the way she conducted her public office.
She later added she was “absolutely not aware” which was why she did not report anything.
A reporter however suggested Mr Maguire told her during a phone call. She again stressed she did not do anything wrong.
She added Mr Maguire had approached a number of people in government, including public servants, who would have reported any wrongdoing if they were aware.
“Unfortunately you take people at face value and trust them. This person had been in parliament for 15 years. And unfortunately, sometimes people are able to get away with things without a lot of people realising,” she said.
When asked if she would classify the ex-MP as a spouse she responded: “No way, no way.”
“I trusted someone who didn’t deserve to have my trust and I’m deeply regretful of that,” she added.
“I really hate that it happened.”
Twitter reacts to premier’s grilling
Some on Twitter have praised reporters over the line of questioning while others have jumped to her defence.
“Whoever this reporter is currently grilling [Gladys] deserves a beer!” one said.
“Gladys is breaking.”
News Corp political reporter Samantha Maiden also slammed the premier.
“This ‘debate’ about poor Gladys had a bad boyfriend that misled sweet, innocent Gladys is demeaning to all involved,” she said.
“What he said on the tapes was bad enough thank you very much. She’s not an idiot. He told her.”
However former ABC presenter Emma Alberici said Ms Berejiklian was not the target of ICAC’s investigations and she is not accused of corruption.
“The smartest people with the best intentions in public life still end up having dumb and/or damaging relationships,” she said.
“Suspect many are living in glass houses today.”
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.