Corruption inquiry report on Gladys Berejiklian held until after NSW state election

A report into the conduct of former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian will be delivered within weeks.

A report into the conduct of former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian will be delivered within weeks. Photo: AAP

A report by the New South Wales corruption commission into former premier Gladys Berejiklian will not be delivered until after the March state election.

The investigation, Operation Keppel, examined Ms Berejiklian’s relationship with former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire, who is now facing charges of criminal conspiracy over his role in an alleged cash-for-visas racket.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption released an update on Wednesday advising that it was continuing to sift through a large body of evidence meaning that the report would not be released until the second quarter of this year.

That puts the release date some time after the March 25 state election, or nearly 18 months after Ms Berejiklian resigned as premier.

Its eventual findings will likely include the answers to several outstanding questions about the Berejiklian affair carrying implications for her reputation, but also potentially the state government seeking re-election.

‘Numero uno’

Ms Berejiklian was an intensely private, public figure.

How a former premier was able to keep her relationship with a fellow MP under wraps and how deep their relationship really went is not just a curiosity, but central to the investigation.

Public hearings centred on the question of how much Ms Berejiklian knew about Mr Maguire’s dealings and how much influence he had over her decisions while in office.

Text messages and intercepts painted a close picture.

Mr Maguire called her ‘babe’; Ms Berejiklian called him ‘numero uno’; and they both at times referred to each other as ‘hokis’, an Armenian term of affection meaning ‘darling’.

Ms Berejiklian told a public inquiry that she never felt compelled to disclose the relationship because it never became close enough to warrant it.

gladys berejiklian daryl maguire

Daryl Maguire previously said he and Gladys Berejiklian contemplated marriage and discussed having a child.

“Did I feel there was a commitment which I would be able to share with my parents or my sisters?” Ms Berejiklian said.

“I didn’t feel that there was a sufficient significance in order to do that.”

Ms Berejiklian made that comment, although the former premier agreed that she had given the former MP the keys to her house and said they discussed starting a family together.

She was later presented with a 2017 text message in which she said to her fellow MP, Mr Maguire: “You are my family.”

Tickle from up top

Ms Berejiklian told the commission she had scrupulously maintained a wall between his business interests and their private life.

She dismissed Mr Maguire’s talk of his business activities as grandiose.

A court has since heard that these included G8way International, a business officially run by Mr Maguire’s former campaign manager and friend Phil Elliott, which offered “immigration services and assistance”.

The business boasted access to “high levels of government” and allegedly found 12 visa applicants phantom jobs in Wagga Wagga; the applicants never showed up to work and businesses were instructed to lie to immigration officials.

Ms Berejiklian admitted to the trio dining at Mr Maguire’s Wagga home, but says she did not know they were in business together.

Mr Elliott has not been charged over the visa scheme.

Mr Maguire had also made representations on behalf of racing heiress Louise Raedler-Waterhouse, who was seeking to have land rezoned around a property at Badgerys Creek near a planned second Sydney airport.

In a private 2017 phone call with Ms Berejiklian the MP boasted that he would be able to clear his debts with a $330 million sale of land owned by the Waterhouse family set to earn him a $1.5 million commission.

“It looks like we finally got the Badgerys Creek stuff done … I’ll make enough money to pay off my debts … can you believe it?”

In 2017, Mr Maguire gave Ms Radler-Waterhouse a printed note containing the premier’s personal email address and suggested she “you know, rub the ego” with some private correspondence.

The premier, he said, “will then give it a tickle from up top”.

Ms Berejiklian said she was likely barely listening during the phone conversation which she would have considered “pie in the sky” speculation, and her office said she had never seen two emails sent by Ms Raedler-Waterhouse.

The planning changes sought by the racing heiress were never made.

The interventions

In May 2018, two months before Mr Maguire stood down after being caught up in a separate corruption investigation, the MP called Ms Berejiklian and complained that then treasurer Dominic Perrottet had told him the coming state budget did not include money for a major hospital upgrade in his electorate.

gladys berejiklian dominic perrottet

Dominic Perrottet (right), treasurer in the Berejiklian government, was not part of the ICAC investigation.

“I just spoke to Dom (Perrottet) and I said put the $140 (million) in the budget. He goes ‘no worries’ – he just does what I tell him,” Ms Berejiklian told Mr Maguire in a private phone call.

“We’re giving Wagga more money than ever before,” Ms Berejiklian said. “I’ve now got you the 170 mill in five minutes.”

Mr Perrottet, who was not part of the ICAC investigation, said he did not recall the conversation.

But the current Premier also had a coinciding role in Ms Berejiklian’s interventions on behalf of her lover, including $35 million in grants for projects in his electorate and $5.5 million to a shooting club in his electorate which was set to employ Mr Maguire as a contractor.

Mr Maguire had been persistently lobbying for the grant, which had been described as “unusual” by the state’s infrastructure department.

But it was Mr Perrottet, as the then treasurer, who ultimately had to sign off on the grant.

In November, the now Premier declined to respond to a question on notice in the state’s parliament about why he had signed off on the grant although it was “not eligible under the Restart NSW Fund Act”.

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