Gladys Berejiklian, Prime Minister of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, resigned on Friday (1) after opening an investigation into whether she violated the law by failing to report alleged misconduct by her ex -partner, former parliamentarian Daryl Maguire.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has revealed that it is investigating whether the then prime minister was involved in a “broken public trust” between 2012 and 2018 because of her relationship with Maguire.
At the heart of the investigations are funding, between 2016 and 2018, to two organizations defended by Maguire. The independent commission investigates whether Berejiklian engaged in conduct that constitutes a “conflict between his public duties and his private interest as a person who was in a personal relationship.”
“My resignation as prime minister could not have come at a worse time, but the timing is completely out of my control as the ICAC chose to take these steps during the most challenging weeks in the state’s history,” Berejiklian said after announcing his resignation at a press conference press conference on Friday.
She was referring to the moment when the state of New South Wales is trying to get out of a lockdown that has lasted three months, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The conservative ruler, who has been at the head of the Australian state since 2017, said she decided to step down “so as not to be a distraction” from what should be the focus of the state government during the pandemic: “the well-being of our citizens”.
Berejiklian denies all charges. The anti-corruption agency investigates whether she failed to perform her obligations under the state’s anti-corruption laws by failing to report matters that she “suspected on reasonable grounds that could concern the corrupt conduct of Mr. Daryl Maguire’s conduct.”
Maguire’s performance as a parliamentarian for months has been the subject of investigation by the independent committee. Last October, he admitted that he had sought to “monetize” his parliamentary cabinet and “use his status” as a politician for his own financial gain,” reported British newspaper The Guardian.
After the resignation, several Australian politicians issued statements congratulating the prime minister, including the opposition leader, who thanked Berejiklian for his service and said he “never doubted his dedication”.
The New South Wales Liberal Party is expected to meet on Tuesday to elect a new leader, who is expected to replace Berejiklian.