The premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced she will resign as both the NSW premier and from parliament after the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said they will investigate allegations made about Berejiklian relating to her relationship with the former member of Wagga Wagga, MP Daryl Maguire.
ICAC suggests the premier breached public trust when she awarded grants to a number of community organisations between 2012 and 2018 and that her relationship with Maguire was a conflict of interest.
Berejiklian to appear before ICAC
ICAC is expected to question the former premier about grants promised to the Australian Clay Target Association in Wagga Wagga and to the Riverina Conservatorium of Music at the time Maguire was in office. The inquiry is expected kick-off on October 18 and to last ten days.
Berejiklian said although she has already answered the charges in front of a committee some 12 months ago, she now feels as though she has no option but to resign.
Always had NSW best interests
Berejiklian said she wanted to be clear, that in all the decisions she has made as Minister or Premier of New South Wales, her first consideration has always been the well-being of the people of NSW.
“I state categorically I have always acted with the highest level of integrity. History will demonstrate I have executed my duties again with the highest level of integrity for the benefit the people of New South Wales for who I have had the privilege to serve.”
The premier said as leader of NSW she has always expected high standards and had previously made it clear that if any of her ministers were the subject of allegations being investigated by an integrity agency or law enforcement, then he or she should stand aside until their name was cleared.
Berejiklian said that same standard must also apply to her, but standing aside was not possible when the state was in the midst of a pandemic so she had no choice but to resign.
Resignation couldn’t happen at worse time
“My resignation as Premier could not happen at a worse time,” said Berejiklian. “But the timing is completely outside of my control as the ICAC has chosen to take this action during the most challenging weeks of the most challenging times in the history of NSW.
“That is the ICAC’s prerogative. Resigning at this time is against every instinct in my being and something which I do not want to do, I love my job and serving the community, but I have been given no option following the statement issued.”
Berejiklian said continuing as Premier would disrupt the State Government during a time when government should be focussed on the challenges facing New South Wales.
“I do not want to be a distraction from what should be the focus of the state government during this pandemic, which is the well-being of our citizens.
“Notwithstanding the challenges of the last few years and few months in particular, I have never felt stronger, nor more confident in my leadership. I have absolutely no regrets during my time in public life. At times we all stumble, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start again stronger and wiser than before. I have done this many times, as we all have.
My only regret will be not to be able to finish the job to ensure the people of New South Wales transition to living freely with COVID,” said Berejiklian.
The premier said she was confident whoever succeeds her will be more than capable of continuing the job.
“Please give them your trust and confidence. We will come through this period stronger, more resilient, and appreciating what really matters in life. I feel strong, energised and optimistic about the future of this great state.”
More to come