Gladys Berejiklian’s former partner Daryl Maguire says they loved each other, contemplated marriage and discussed having a child, as NSW’s corruption watchdog investigates whether their secret relationship breached public trust.
The former NSW Liberal MP was the one originally under the microscope when the Independent Commission Against Corruption launched public hearings into his business dealings last year.
But when Ms Berejiklian last year sensationally revealed their clandestine relationship, it sparked a separate investigation into her own conduct. That led to her resignation as premier on October 1.
ICAC is investigating whether Ms Berejiklian breached the public’s trust when she failed to disclose the relationship as she dealt with projects Mr Maguire was pushing for his Wagga Wagga electorate.
Under questioning from counsel assisting the commission Scott Robertson on Thursday, Mr Maguire said the pair were in a relationship, which became physically intimate, between 2015 and 2018.
The pair holidayed together and he had a key to Ms Berejiklian’s home, which he never returned.
They contemplated marriage and discussed having a child together, he said.
“You loved her?” Mr Robertson asked.
“Yes,” Mr Maguire replied.
“So far as you can ascertain, she loved you as well?
“We had our moments but yes.”
Ms Berejiklian last year told the ICAC inquiry the pair’s relationship was not of “sufficient status” to disclose to anyone.
It came after Ms Berejiklian lost her bid to have ICAC hear details of the relationship in private.
“There is no public purpose served by plumbing the depths of the private life of my client,” Ms Berejiklian’s lawyer Sophie Callan SC said.
“Doing so in public will inevitably lead to intense and irremediable publicity and public scrutiny along with humiliation and harm.”
Assistant Commissioner Ruth McColl denied the request, saying the matter was in the public interest.
The evidence at the inquiry has focused on two grants given to pet projects of Mr Maguire’s – a $5.5 million upgrade to the Wagga Wagga Clay Target Club and a $20.5 million plan to build a recital hall for the Riverina Conservatorium of Music.
Several witnesses have said Mr Maguire was a forceful advocate for the projects.
On Thursday, Mr Maguire agreed he had been a “serial pest” to several ministers, including Stuart Ayres who was sports minister, Ms Berejiklian as treasurer, and then-premier Mike Baird.
“I think the term was ‘a pain in the a–e’, yes,” he said, referencing evidence given by former deputy premier John Barilaro on Monday.
He conceded he had greater access to Ms Berejiklian than other MPs as a result of their relationship, and in their private life had “encouraged” her to take a close interest in the projects.
He was shown an email sent to Ms Berejiklian in March 2017 – weeks before she became premier – in which he said delays to one of his pet projects was “typical of our bulls–t government”.
He denied he explicitly asked his partner to intervene but conceded he would sometimes communicate with her in the hope she would.
Earlier on Thursday, the inquiry heard Mr Maguire had abused another friendship with a different MP by seeking privileged information then passing it on to a business associate.
It also heard Mr Maguire proposed a way for the Riverina Conservatorium of Music to circumvent the government’s hesitancy to contribute to an upgrade that would give it commercial benefits.
“Is that part of the story with the Clay Target Association as well – let’s build a facility or clubhouse that may well be bigger than absolutely necessary with a view to having a revenue stream for that organisation?” Mr Robertson said.
“Well, they all need revenue streams,” Mr Maguire said.
In another telephone recording played to the inquiry, Mr Maguire could also be heard boasting about having “tens and tens and tens and tens of millions” of dollars put away, which could be used for the Riverina Conservatorium of Music project.
Ms Berejiklian denies any wrongdoing in relation to the grants or her failure to disclose the relationship.