After 18 months of steering NSW through the COVID-19 crisis, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has confirmed her resignation following the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) announcement today that it will be investigating whether Berejiklian breached public trust between 2012 to 2018.
“I cannot predict how long it will take the ICAC to complete this investigation, let alone deliver a report in circumstances where I was first called to give evidence in a public hearing nearly 12 months ago," an emotional Berejiklian said today during a sudden press conference.
“Therefore, it pains me to announce that I have no option but to resign from the Office of Premier. My resignation will take effect as soon as the NSW Liberal Party can elect a new parliamentary leader in order to allow the new leader and government a fresh start.”
Berejiklian insisted she would end up on "the right side of history" and with a clear name. “I state categorically I’ve always acted with the highest level of integrity,” she said. The former Premier continued that she didn't want her resignation to distract from the government's primary job: dealing with the pandemic.
In a subtle dig at ICAC, Berejiklian said: “My resignation as Premier could not occur at a worse time, but the timing is completely outside of my control as the ICAC has chosen to take this action during the most challenging weeks of the most challenging times in the state’s history. Resigning this time is against every instinct in my being, and something I do not want to do,” she said.
“I love my job and I love serving the community, but I have been given no option. Following the statement that’s been issued today to continue as premier would disrupt the state government during a time when our entire attention should be focused on the challenges confronting NSW. I don't want to be a distraction from what should be the focus of the state government during this pandemic, which is the well being of our citizens; it always has been and always will be.”
Specifically, ICAC will be questioning the grants awarded to several community organisations in Wagga Wagga during a time when her ex-partner Daryl Maguire was the local member.
In a separate corruption inquiry last year, Berejiklian confirmed she had been in a five-year “close personal relationship” with Maguire, who resigned from parliament in disgrace in 2018.
ICAC will also be investigating whether Maguire used his position as a member of the NSW parliament to financially benefit himself and his associates.
The ICAC will hold public hearings from Monday, October 18.