Wednesday, June 26, 2024

NSW Premier resigns under corruption cloud


A visibly upset NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has announced her resignation as Premier of NSW, as the shadow of Australia’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is once again cast over her.

ICAC said today it would investigate whether Ms Berejiklian breached public trust between 2012 and 2018, with hearings set to begin on October 18.

Ms Berejiklian has also resigned as a member of Parliament, which will trigger a by-election in her seat of Willoughby on Sydney’s lower north shore.

“I’ve had to make a difficult decision overnight. I was advised late yesterday afternoon that the Independent Commission Against Corruption will release a statement today stating they are investigating me relating to matters involving the former member for Wagga Wagga,” the Premier said.

“ICAC has chosen to take this action during the most challenging weeks of the most challenging times in the state’s history.”

She told gathered media “categorically” that she had always acted with the highest level of integrity.

“These are historic matters and I have already been subjected to numerous attacks by these, by my opponents, in the last 12 months.”

She said she had also made it clear what the ramifications would be for any Minister who became the subject of an official investigation.

“I have made it clear on numerous occasions that if any of my ministers were the subject of allegations being investigated by an integrity agency or law enforcement, then he or she should stand aside during the course of the investigation until their name was cleared,” he said.

“The reason for my stance was not to have made any presumptions as to their conduct, but rather to maintain the integrity of the public office which has held, which that person is held whilst an investigation was completed, that same standard must always apply to me also as Premier.

“However, standing aside is not an option for me as the premier of NSW. The people of this state need certainty as to who the leader is during the challenging times of the pandemic.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian arrives for a press conference to announce her resignation from public life.

“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.

“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.”

She ended her emotional statement with words of support for NSW residents, who she said had grieved and supported each other through drought, bushfires and COVID-19.

“I hope you know that you will remain foremost in my thoughts,” she said.

“The courage that you display in your lives every day has inspired me every step of the way. The courage and the support you’ve shown me has humbled me and made me a better leader and a better person.

“Serving you has been the greatest privilege of my life. Please know that every day I gave it my all and worked as hard as I could to create a better future for our state and its people. I truly believe that NSW is a place where every person, irrespective of their background and circumstances has the opportunity to be their best – to make a difference.

“So as I address you for the final time as your Premier – please stay the course and stay safe. We will be shortly out of this lockdown and be able to get on with our lives.

“NSW and its people will come out of this lockdown stronger, and together we will build a future full of optimism and hope.

“Finally, thank you again for giving me the honour of being your Premier.”

She said her only regret was that she would not be “finishing the job” to ensure the people of NSW transition to living freely with COVID-19.

“However, I’m extremely confident that whoever succeeds me will be more than capable to continue this job. Please give them your trust and confidence,” she said.

The ICAC investigation Ms Berejiklian now faces relates to her relationship with former MP Daryl Maguire, in connection with grant funding promised and, or, awarded to the Wagga Wagga’s Australian Clay Target Association Inc and the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga back in 2018.

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