Gladys Berejiklian has come out swinging on the second day of her ICAC hearing, after struggling to answer questions on Friday.
Gladys Berejiklian has undergone a second day of gruelling ICAC questioning, but this time the former NSW Premier has come out swinging.
There was a marked difference in how Ms Berejiklian responded to questions on Monday, compared to her first hearing on Friday.
The ICAC is investigating whether she had a conflict of interest in having part in awarding money to Wagga Wagga without disclosing her relationship with the former MP for the region Daryl Maguire, whether she failed in her duty to report suspected corruption, and whether she encouraged that kind of behaviour by turning a blind eye.
In Friday’s hearing, there were multiple moments where Ms Berejiklian appeared to be unsure of her answers to the barrage of questions being thrown at her, asking ICAC barrister Scott Robertson at different points to repeat questions and answering many with “I don’t know” or, “I don’t remember”.
There were moments during the hours of intense personal questioning where the former Premier appeared to be flustered and even one question she said left her deeply “offended”.
But when she fronted the ICAC on Monday, Ms Berejiklian appeared to have a whole new game plan.
Now knowing what to expect from the hearing, she was firm in her answers and confident in the face of personal questions.
It didn’t take long for things to get heated, with Ms Berejiklian at one point accusing counsel assisting the ICAC of “putting words in (her) mouth”.
Ms Berejiklian was shown evidence of conversations she had with Daryl Maguire prior to his summons to the watchdog in 2018.
Recordings and transcripts of the private phone conversations showed Mr Maguire told her he had made representations on behalf of property developers, and that he stood to gain money in relation to an airport deal nearly 500km from his Wagga Wagga electorate.
In response, Ms Berejiklian said she “wasn’t paying attention to that particular conversation” and insisted she had no reason to suspect Mr Maguire was misusing his position as an MP to enrich himself.
“I didn’t have that concern,” she said.
“I can’t really say what I thought at the time, or what I understood, but I certainly can tell you unequivocally that I did not assume any wrongdoing (on Mr Maguire’s part).”
However she said after Mr Maguire testified to the ICAC on July 13, 2018 – an interview during which Mr Maguire was caught allegedly giving false evidence – she became concerned Mr Maguire had lied about the “cloud” of suspicion around him.
When asked why she didn’t share her concerns about Mr Maguire to the ICAC, Ms Berejiklian said she “very strongly” determined that she didn’t have any information that would be helpful to the commission.
She also said she knew “in her heart” she had “never, ever, ever done anything wrong”, when asked if she was concerned the cloud of suspicion around Maguire would extend to her.
“In fact, anyone who has worked with me or knows me knows I’m not capable of that. But if I had any suspicion whatsoever that I knew anything or suspected anything, of course I would not have hesitated,” she said.
Ms Berejiklian continued to insist that she wasn’t aware of any wrongdoing, saying she “never for a second” assumed any corruption.
Ms Berejiklians testimony on Monday marked day 11 of public hearings into her conduct in office.
On Friday she said she felt her relationship with Mr Maguire was not of sufficient status to disclose, despite confirming his evidence that the pair were in love, discussed marriage and having a child, and would stay together from time to time.
Despite this, she stood by her decision not to disclose the relationship, and also said at the time, she didn’t even consider making such a disclosure.
She added that Mr Maguire’s level of access to her was the same as that enjoyed by all other MPs.
Mr Maguire revealed he had a key to her home during his own testimony, that he could not remember if he had returned, while Ms Berejiklian said on Monday she had since changed the locks.
– with NCA NewsWire