ICAC motion against NSW premier passes

Tiffanie Turnbull
·2-min read

A parliamentary bid to refer NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to the corruption watchdog over her "close personal relationship" with a disgraced MP and involvement in a controversial grants program has passed the upper house.

The motion, moved by Labor in the Legislative Council on Thursday, carried 22 votes to 15 with crossbench support.

The Animal Justice and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers parties previously voted down a motion of no confidence in the premier, but now say they've seen enough to warrant a corruption probe.

The motion to refer the NSW premier to the Independent Commission Against Corruption is ultimately doomed to fail in the lower house where the government has a majority.

However, Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House Adam Searle told reporters Thursday's vote was significant.

"(This) signifies very serious concern right across the political spectrum about these matters, and the desire from the majority, at least in the upper house, to have these matters independently and thoroughly investigated by the corruption watchdog," he said.

The three main areas of concern are Ms Berejiklian's relationship with disgraced ex-MP Daryl Maguire, any involvement she may have had in destroying documents relating to the alleged rorting of a $252 million government grants program, and her rejection of advice against moving the Greater Sydney Commission in to her own department.

"There's a whole range of matters, any of which individually warrants investigation (and) are very serious, but taken together, they represent a compelling case that this premier is unfit for office," Mr Searle said.

In question time, Ms Berejiklian accused the opposition of saying anything to score political points.

"What is clear to me is that the leader of the opposition and One Nation are very strong political allies," she said.

The premier became embroiled in a political storm in October after revealing she had been in a long term relationship with Mr Maguire during an ICAC hearing into his alleged corrupt conduct.

She also landed in hot water after a member of her staff revealed to a parliamentary inquiry that documents showing the premier had signed off on the allocation of grants to NSW councils under the Strong Communities Fund had been destroyed.

Labor has accused the government of pork-barrelling, saying 95 per cent of the $252 million fund was handed to coalition-held seats in the lead up to the 2019 state election.

While the motion will be defeated, the ICAC has the power to convene an investigation of its own accord.

Meanwhile, Labor Leader Jodi McKay is moving to ban all MPs from seeking or accepting commissions from property developers.

"No member of parliament should be moonlighting with property developers to earn a quick buck," Ms McKay told parliament.

The new bill would prohibit all MPs from seeking or accepting commissions from property developers.