The NSW premier has hit back at reporters during a media conference as more questions arose about her close and personal relationship with a former MP being investigated for corruption.
Ex-MP for Wagga Wagga Daryl Maguire is facing an ICAC hearing over allegations he used his public office to financially benefit himself or company G8way International – which he admitted to directing.
It has emerged in the ICAC hearing that G8way International claimed to access “high levels of government”.
After facing two days of tough questioning in relation to her relationship and whether she was aware of any corruption, a reporter asked Ms Berejiklian during Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing about what access to government Mr Maguire had during their relationship.
However Ms Berejiklian snapped back, reiterating she had done nothing wrong and had been nothing but open about “uncomfortable” issues.
As she spoke about the support she had received over the past two days and said she was working hard for the people of NSW, a reporter tried to interrupt her before she shut them down.
“Excuse me, let me finish, let me finish, OK. I’ve given you your turn for the last three days, let me finish,” she said.
“I say to the people of this great state, you elected me to be focused on you, the issues that matter to you, and that’s exactly what I will do.”
Premier’s patience with questioning is ‘waning’
When asked again whether she knew about Mr Maguire’s dealings during their relationship, to which she responded there was a clear separation between her working life and personal life.
“I will not have innuendo, incorrect statements put to me which I have found offensive, but in due course, I have accepted to answer everything because it is in the public interest for the public to have confidence in me, and that’s why I’ve been very, very open about things that are very difficult to talk about,” she said.
As reporters continued to probe her about the issue, she said her tolerance for answering questions “which frankly are offensive” was waning.
“Please, if I had any suspicion that any member of parliament, whether it was him or anybody else was doing the wrong thing, using their public office for the wrong purposes, of course, I would have reported that,” she said.
“But this gentleman, well, this person, had access to so many people and the end result was nothing.
“Imagine knowing someone for 15 years, someone who we trusted did the wrong thing by all of us but he didn't get his way because all of us put our jobs first and put the people first.”
Ms Berejiklian also expressed frustration when asked about concerns from senior colleagues that her relationship with somebody conducting business with Chinese businesses could have raised the prospect of her being of interest to Chinese intelligence agencies.
“Oh my goodness,” she said.
“What do you say to that,” the reporter continued.
“I say to that, that’s complete rubbish,” she said.
“As the premier of the state, I pass security clearances that nobody else has to pass and I have access to information which assures me what I need to be aware of.”
She was later asked if Mr Maguire had made a fool of her.
“I’m sorry?” she asked.
“Has he made a fool of you?” the reporter asked again.
When Ms Berejiklian said it was for others to pass judgement on, the reporter asked if she felt like he had.
“That’s for others to make judgement on,” she said again.
Ex-lover Daryl Maguire’s bombshell ICAC admissions
Mr Maguire has confessed he used his Parliament House office for personal business deals and should have updated the premier on conflicts of interest, as per his obligations under the NSW ministerial code of conduct.
Ms Berejiklian re-appointed Mr Maguire to a parliamentary secretary role when she became premier in January 2017.
Mr Maguire said he had used his taxpayer-funded staff, email and facilities for his business deals and once received deliveries of thousands of dollars of cash to his office.
The money was associated with a scheme that involved securing Australian visas for Chinese nationals.
Mr Maguire also admitted secretly directing a company called G8way International, a central focus of the inquiry and a vehicle from which the then-MP sought to make personal profits.
"At least in part, your parliament house office became a part-time office for the G8way International firm, do you agree?" Scott Robertson, counsel assisting the commission, asked.
"Occasionally, yes," Mr Maguire replied.
The ICAC is investigating a range of allegations against Mr Maguire including that he misused his public office to broker property deals in western Sydney that would financially benefit him.
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