Family of Gladys’ lover speaks out
A love affair that rocked politics to its core yesterday blindsided the entire nation, but it was known for "some time" by the estranged wife of NSW Liberal MP Daryl Maguire.
In a day that could soon spell the end of her reign as NSW Premier, it was revealed that Gladys Berejiklian was in a secret five-year relationship with Mr Maguire, who is at the heart of a corruption investigation.
Ms Berejiklian has always guarded her private life from the public eye, so the revelation - given to the corruption watchdog on Monday - came as surprise to almost everyone, even the senior members of her own party.
However, there was one person who did know about the relationship - Mr Maguire's estranged wife Maureen.
"(Of) course she f***ing knew," her brother Larry Salvestro told theDaily Telegraph when they approached him for comment.
The Maguires had two children, James and Kara, before their relationship crumbled about 10 years ago and it's understood they've been estranged ever since.
Speculation began yesterday as to whether Mr Maguire, a former Wagga Wagga MP, had been romantically involved with Ms Berejiklian while he was still married, but the NSW Premier denied any crossover
"What about Mr Maguire's wife? Was he still married when he started the close personal relationship?" a reporter asked yesterday.
"Look, that's a matter for him, but my understanding was that he was separated," Ms Berejiklian said.
Ms Berejiklian said her relationship with Mr Maguire began after the 2015 election. She said she decided to break contact with him after she appeared at a private ICAC hearing in August.
The Premier said she ended the relationship "a few months ago".
Meanwhile, Mrs Maguire was not seen at 2015 election campaign events, though she is not understood to have been involved in politics.
Daryl Maguire was forced to quit parliament in 2018 accused of trying to broker property deals on behalf of a Chinese developer.
Corruption watchdog ICAC has taken testimony which suggests that he wanted an extra term in parliament, in part because he had to give Maureen $1 million in their divorce settlement.
Revelations of the relationship yesterday blindsided almost the entire NSW Liberal Party.
"Most of us are numb. Everyone was like 'What the hell?'" one MP told The Australian.
Another MP remarked: "No one was ready for it".
Ms Berejiklian told ICAC the relationship wasn't generally known among MPs, with the pair seeking to keep it private to avoid any awkwardness.
"More substantially, I'm a very private person and I didn't feel the relationship had sufficient substance for it to be made public," she said.
She added that while she was aware Mr Maguire had business interests in conjunction with his role, that she had assumed he had disclosed those interests at the appropriate times.
"Can I say I would never ever turn a blind eye from any responsibility I had to disclose any wrongdoing that I saw or any activity that I thought was not in keeping with what a member of parliament should be doing," she said.
However, her political judgment is being called into question, particularly since she had sacked Mr Maguire over corruption allegations two years ago.
Berejiklian issued a press release in July 2018 demanding Mr Maguire's resignation from the Liberal Party.
"I was shocked by the events of Friday and I spoke to Mr Maguire late that afternoon to express in the strongest possible terms my deep disappointment," she said in the statement.
Yet she admitted at the ICAC hearing on Monday that her relationship with Maguire continued for another two years.
Her defence for that was that she was concerned about her friend's welfare. She said he was in a dark place, having already lost his career.
However, many media commentators and even senior figures within the NSW Liberal Party believe her reign as Premier is swiftly coming to an end. They say there's no way she can survive yesterday's revelations in the ICAC hearing.
While Sky News political editor Andrew Clennell said he didn't expect any imminent challenge, he said: "It's the start of the end.
"I don't see how she goes to the next election now that's for sure," he told Sky News.
Clennell said he couldn't see ICAC not being critical of the Premier in its final report given the commission had decided to call her in for a grilling.
"I know a few people, who off the back of this would just resign," he said.
He said he also knew a few colleagues who would "like her to just resign".
ICAC is not expected to deliver its findings for months and Clennell said Ms Berejiklian would have to survive the stench around the issue until then.
The Australian's investigations editor Sharri Markson wrote that the Premier "may not survive the week".
"It's an incomprehensible decision that has jeopardised her career and the Liberal Party's electoral fortunes," she wrote. "Berejiklian is now suffering the indignity of the corruption watchdog broadcasting phone taps of her conversations with her presumed-lover about his questionable business dealings.
"How can she have allowed a third-rate country MP to humiliate her like this?"
However, Ms Berejiklian's colleagues appear to be backing her.
During a press conference Treasurer Dominic Perrottet - who is considered by some to be the next NSW Premier if the current one falls on her sword - and Health Minister Brad Hazzard both praised Ms Berejiklian as someone with "great integrity".
Mr Hazzard said: "I 100 per cent back our Premier." He said she was "by far the best Premier in this country".
Transport Minister Andrew Constance also supported her and said she had a "heart of gold".
"This is a human being who has worked her socks off for this state, and deserves enormous regard and respect, and will continue to do so, and that's the important thing for the people of NSW," he said.
Originally published as Family of Gladys' lover speaks out