Gladys Berejiklian has resigned as NSW Premier after the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) announced that it was investigating whether she had violated “public trust”, said former state MP Daryl Maguire. arising out of a potential conflict of interest related to his personal relationship with
Berejiklian, the premier since 2017, told a news conference: “Resigning at this time is against every instinct in my existence and something I do not want to do.
“I love my job, and serve the community, but I’ve been given no choice after the statement issued [by ICAC]”
She said it was not an option for her to stand aside as the people of NSW “need certainty as to who their leader is during these challenging times of the pandemic”.
“Continuing as head of state government will have to be disrupted at a time when our entire focus must be on the challenges facing New South Wales. I don’t want to be distracted by the state government during this pandemic. What should be the focus of, which is the well being of our citizens.”
She will also resign from the state parliament.
His shock resignation comes at a critical point in the state’s COVID crisis as it prepares to come out of lockdown, which is set to rise in cases and hospitalisations.
Scott Morrison considers Berejiklian her closest ally among premiers, particularly because she favored keeping things open where possible.
Morrison told a news conference that she was a “dear friend”. She had always found him to be a “person of the highest integrity”.
The ICAC is investigating his conduct between 2012 and 2018. It is pledging funding to the Australian Clay Target Association and funding to the Riverina Conservatorium of Music at Wagga Wagga.
It is also investigating whether his conduct was “responsible for allowing or encouraging” corrupt practices by Maguire, who held Wagga Wagga’s seat between 1999 and 2018.
Berejiklian declared him innocent. “Let me frankly say, I have always acted with the highest level of integrity. History will demonstrate that I have always performed my duties with the highest level of integrity for the benefit of the people of NSW.”
Berejiklian’s future was in question after last year he gave evidence to the ICAC about his close personal relationship with Maguire. During the hearing, harmful phone taps of calls were played between him and Maguire.
State Treasurer Dominique Perrot is considered the frontrunner to replace him.
Berejiklian is the third Liberal premier to be claimed by the ICAC – the others were Nick Greiner and Barry O’Farrell.