‘I’ll throw money’: Bombshell phone call between Gladys Berejiklian and ex-boyfriend played to ICAC
A recorded phone call had revealed NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian telling ex-boyfriend Daryl Maguire she would “throw money” at his Wagga Wagga electorate following the disgraced MP’s resignation.
The bombshell recording was played to a corruption inquiry into whether their secret relationship led to her breaching public trust.
Thursday’s Independent Commission Against Corruption hearing saw Maguire take the stand, giving evidence into the couple’s relationship.
The ICAC is investigating whether Berejiklian breached the public’s trust when she failed to disclose the relationship as she dealt with projects Maguire was pushing for his Wagga Wagga electorate.
In the afternoon, several excerpts from phone calls between Maguire and Berejiklian were played to the inquiry.
In the calls, Berejiklian was heard saying she would “throw money” at Wagga Wagga, in the lead-up to the electorate’s by-election, which came about after Maguire stood down following corruption allegations.
“I don’t want to argue with you. I just need to go and chill because you’ve stressed me out,” Berejiklian was heard saying.
“All right go and chill – you just throw money at Wagga,” Maguire said.
“I’ll throw money at Wagga don’t you worry about that – lots of it,” Berejiklian then added.
“I’ll throw money at Wagga you’ve just got to do what’s right from your end otherwise you’ll kill me.”
“No, no, it’s fine, I’m batting for you,” Maguire replied. “You just need to know what the right things are – to throw money at Wagga.”
“I already know, you’ve already told me the three top things,” Berejiklian replied.
“Go and give them a stadium,” Maguire said.
“I’ll do that. I’ll do that too. I’ll do that too, don’t worry,” she told him.
“Well, the bureaucrats knocked it all out,” Maguire said.
“Yes but I can overrule them,” Berejiklian assured him.
Talk of marriage, kids
Earlier on Thursday, lawyers for both Berejiklian and Maguire argued that the session should be heard privately.
“In my submission, there is no public purpose served by plumbing the depths of the private life of my client about intimate details of this relationship,” 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.”
But that request was ultimately denied, with Assistant Commissioner Ruth McColl saying the matter was in the public interest.
Maguire revealed intimate details of the couple’s relationship, including that they had discussed getting married and having children.
He added the pair were in a relationship, which became physically intimate, between 2015 and 2018.
“You loved her?” Maguire was asked.
“Yes,” he said.
“And as far as you could ascertain she loved you as well?”
“You would stay with her time to time in Sydney?”
“She would stay with you in Wagga?
Maguire also revealed he had a spare key to Berejiklian’s home and that he had not been asked to return it.
The evidence at the inquiry has focused on two grants given to pet projects of 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.
A number of witnesses have said Maguire was a forceful advocate for the projects.
Maguire on Thursday agreed he had been a “serial pest” to several ministers, including Stuart Ayres who was then sports minister, Berejiklian as treasurer, and then-premier Mike Baird.
“I think the term was ‘a pain in the arse’, yes,” he said, referencing evidence given by former deputy premier John Barilaro on Monday.
He conceded he had greater access to 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 Berejiklian in March 2017 – weeks after she became premier – in which he said delays to one of his pet projects was “typical of our bulls*** government”.
He denied he explicitly asked his partner to intervene but conceded he would sometimes communicate with her in the hope she would.
The inquiry earlier on Thursday heard Maguire had abused another friendship with a different MP by seeking privileged information then passing it on to a business associate.
It also heard 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?”, Robertson asked.
“Well, they all need revenue streams,” Maguire said.
In another telephone recording played to the inquiry, Maguire can 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.
Berejiklian denies any wrongdoing in relation to the grants or her failure to disclose the relationship.
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 Berejiklian last year sensationally revealed their clandestine relationship, it sparked a separate investigation into her own conduct, which resulted in her resigning as premier on October 1.
Berejiklian will be called to give evidence at the inquiry on Friday.
– with AAP