NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has told a corruption inquiry she had been in a “close personal relationship” with Daryl Maguire.
The Premier gave evidence at an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry on Monday investigating whether former Member for Wagga Wagga Mr Maguire used his position for personal gain.
Ms Berejiklian told the inquiry she was in a close personal relationship with Mr Maguire from around the time of the 2015 state election up until a few months ago.
“When I was asked to support this inquiry it became apparent to me that I should have absolutely no contact anymore and I ceased all contact,” Ms Berejiklian told the inquiry.
Ms Berejiklian said their relationship wasn’t generally known among MPs and they sought to keep it private in part because it may have been awkward.
“More substantially, I’m a very private person and I didn’t feel the relationship had sufficient substance for it to be made public,” Ms Berejiklian said.
She said if Mr Maguire had resigned from Parliament she may have considered making the relationship public.
Ms Berejiklian told the inquiry she was aware Mr Maguire had business interests but assumed he disclosed those at the appropriate times.
The inquiry was shown emails from 2014 where Mr Maguire told Ms Berejiklian he was entitled to a commission or other payment in relation to a property sale or development.
“Can I say I would never ever turn a blind eye from any responsibility 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 said today.
Counsel Assisting the Commission Scott Robertson suggested Ms Berejiklian encouraged Mr Maguire not to give her details of the matters he was involved in.
“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,” Ms Berejiklian said.
The inquiry heard the Premier attempted to compartmentalise her relationship with Mr Maguire to keep it separate from her public duties.
Ms Berejiklian agreed Mr Maguire had told her about the extent of his debts but rejected any suggestion she cared about his finances or that she would have benefited from him being in a better financial position.
“I’m an independent woman who is proud of her independence and anybody else’s finances would be completely immaterial to me,” she said.
Ms Berejiklian said Mr Maguire was obsessed with his financial status and he did talk about trying to put himself in a position that would allow him to retire from Parliament.
The inquiry heard last week, Mr Maguire gave out the Premier’s private email address to Western Sydney landowner Louise Waterhouse, to help her lobby for changes.
The inquiry continues.