NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been quizzed on intimate details of her relationship with a disgraced ex-MP in a cringeworthy radio interview with Sydney shock-jock host Kyle Sandilands.
It was one of a couple of breakfast radio interviews Ms Berejiklian decided to do on Monday morning, continuing her media blitz in defence of her relationship with former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire.
She spoke candidly to Ben Fordham, on Sydney radio 2GB saying she had “absolutely” shed private tears, and to Sandilands on FM station KIIS 1065.
That opened her up to a surprising array of questions.
She remained tight lipped about the most intimate details of her five-year relationship with Mr Maguire, which came to light only when she sensationally revealed it at an ICAC inquiry last week.
“It has made me much more empathetic and understanding of people’s circumstances,” Ms Berejiklian said of the debacle to Sandilands.
“You never imagine it could happen to you. If you told me a year ago that this would happen to me, I wouldn’t have believed you.
“It feels like I’m watching a movie … it’s a horror movie.”
Sandilands also questioned Ms Berejiklian’s taste in men.
“When I watch Seinfeld with my friends, some think Jerry is hot, others think Kramer is hot, but you would have thought George is hot,” he said.
“We won’t go there,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“In a couple of months time I might be able to have those conversations. I will get into that space where I can self-deprecate.”
Earlier, she denied any knowledge of Mr Maguire’s dodgy deals, saying she wasn’t interested and that she often got lobbied by MPs over issues in their electorate and had showed no favouritism to him.
“I did nothing. Absolutely zilch,” she told Fordham on Sydney radio 2GB.
“I think a lot of my colleagues have been shocked as well because a lot of us knew him over a long period of time and none of us picked up on the extent of what he was up to,” Ms Berejikilian said.
“We thought he was someone of honesty and integrity.”
She said she could not remember a phone call that was played at the ICAC when Mr Maguire was talking to her about a potential land deal he was involved in, and she responded that she didn’t “need to know about that bit”.
“I probably wasn’t paying attention and listening properly … or I dismissed it because I thought that’s his business and it’s got nothing to do with me.
“It did not cross my mind that there was anything untoward,” she said.
Her first reaction to the matters revealed at ICAC hearings was “shock and disgust” but she said she had yet to process the hurt and pain of their failed personal relationship.
“Have I stuffed up in my personal life? Absolutely? Am I devastated by what’s happened? Absolutely.
“Am I embarrassed and and do I accept that people will cast judgement? Of course. But my job is my job and I will keep doing it,” she said.
Ms Berejiklian is preparing for another gruelling sitting week in the NSW parliament.
After her revelations to the state Independent Commission Against Corruption last week of her five-year secret “close personal relationship” with Mr Maguire, he made numerous frank admissions about using his public office to seek personal financial gain and being involved in a lucrative cash-for-visas scam.
Earlier on Monday, the federal Home Affairs Department said it was investigating Mr Maguire’s visa scheme, with confirmation he contacted immigration officials and possibly federal politicians as part of it.
The association with Mr Maguire – which continued after she sacked him from the party in 2018 and until just weeks ago – has been devastating for Ms Berejiklian. She has endured a torrent of damaging headlines, and widespread speculation that her leadership is terminal.
On the weekend, three top ministers – Stuart Ayers, Mark Speakman and Victor Dominello – rallied behind her and on Monday she emerged to staunchly defend herself.
While admitting to private tears and feeling shocked, devastated and embarrassed, she made it clear she would not throw in the towel.
“There is absolutely no accusation of wrongdoing against me,” she said.
She also tried to explain the romance that shocked colleagues and the public, admitting it was “excruciating” to talk about.
Although she was in love with Mr Maguire, “it wasn’t a normal relationship … he wasn’t my boyfriend, it wasn’t anything of substance … I certainly hoped it would be”.
“Irrespective of how I felt, we led completely separate lives,” she said,
After pursuing two failed motions of no confidence last week the NSW opposition will resume hostilities in parliament on Tuesday.
“This Premier is playing with words,” Labor leader Jodi McKay tweeted.
“When you’re in that role, you should disclose ANY relationship that presents a conflict. She sat around the cabinet table discussing the very issues she knew he was involved in and she said nothing.”