Conceding she’d “stuffed up in my personal life” after revealing a “close personal relationship” with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire at an anti-corruption hearing yesterday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian dug in as calls for her resignation kicked off. The relationship started in 2015 when she was the state’s treasurer and continued after Maguire resigned from parliament in disgrace in 2018 when she was premier. She cut off contact with Maguire in August, she said, when she was asked to go before the inquiry into new corruption allegations against him. And Berejiklian says she would not have been with him had she known the extent of his alleged wheeling and dealing. Calling the episode a “personal nightmare”, she did not accept that she’d strayed from her responsibilities at the top of the government.
WHO’S DARYL MAGUIRE?
The member for Wagga Wagga for nearly 20 years until he was forced to resign in 2018, Maguire never made it to the Coalition frontbench. The 61yo’s resignation came after he admitted to seeking payment in return for brokering a deal with a Chinese property developer. But that wasn’t the end of it with the state’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) now looking into other activities between 2012 and 2018. There were trips to the Asia-Pacific region where it’s alleged Maguire hooked up Chinese businesses with Pacific governments – an arrangement it’s claimed he was paid for. He’s also at the centre of a dodgy ‘cash for visa’ scheme. And there are questions about assistance he provided a property developer. Berejiklian yesterday said that Maguire had told her in 2017 that he was $1.5 million in debt, but says she was never unduly influenced by him and would have reported anything she thought was off. The new claims against him have left her “shocked, disgusted, let down,” she said yesterday.
SO HAS BEREJIKLIAN DONE ANYTHING WRONG?
Berejiklian is not a target of ICAC’s investigation, and no one’s alleging she’s behaved corruptly. But there are plenty of questions with news of the coupling coming as a surprise. “I’ve sacrificed my life to public office, and I’m proud of that,” she reiterated yesterday. But she had an undisclosed “numero uno” while serving at the top of the government. And there are questions about her judgement with the relationship extending beyond Maguire’s departure from politics. Labor leader Jodi McKay called for her resignation saying “if you thought you knew Gladys Berejiklian, think again.” Others said she was entitled to a private life. Get set for some fireworks – while her senior colleagues are publicly backing her, Labor will bring a motion of no confidence against Berejiklian in the parliament today. And Maguire fronts the inquiry later this week.
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VICTORIA’S TOP BUREAUCRAT WALKS
Chris Eccles, the head of Premier Daniel Andrews’ department, resigned yesterday as details of what happened during a crucial 6-minute window on 27 March became a teeny bit less opaque. Long story short, Eccles had told the state’s inquiry into the failed hotel quarantine program that he could not recall if he talked to Victoria’s Police Commissioner Graham Ashton at that precise time as the government hustled to set up the program. But phone records requested on Sunday after pressure was applied on Andrews show the pair did talk. And afterwards, Ashton sent Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw a text saying “private security will be used”. Still, Eccles says he didn’t tell Ashton of “any decision regarding the use of private security as I was unaware any such decision had been made, and I most certainly had not made such a decision myself.” The bungled scheme led to the vast majority of COVID cases in Melbourne’s second wave that’s seen the city locked down for more than 3 months and almost 800 deaths.
The internet works in mysterious ways… And now the Catholic Church has beatified Carlo Acutis at a ceremony in Assisi – the step before sainthood. The Italian teenager who died of leukaemia in 2006 aged 15yo spread his faith online and helped run websites for Catholic organisations. The Church says he performed a miracle when he ‘interceded from heaven’ in 2013 to cure a Brazilian boy who was suffering from a rare pancreatic disease. The next step – a second miracle needs to be verified for Acutis to become the Catholic Church’s first millennial saint. And in an update from the Vatican, Cardinal George Pell has met with Pope Francis – their first since Pell’s child abuse conviction was overturned earlier this year. No details of the meeting were provided, but Pell told reporters that the meeting “went very well”. With the Vatican in the middle of a financial scandal, there’s speculation Pell could have a role in mopping up.
SETTLING IN FOR SOME LA NINA DRAMA
Just in case 2020 wasn’t exciting enough, the weather bureau has released its severe weather outlook for October to April, and it’s looking wet, wild and windy. La Nina, which has already started bringing rain to drought-affected areas across the country, is forecast to cause flooding in eastern Oz, while the north is bracing for tropical cyclones and an early start to the wet season. Both the east and north of the country are expected to receive more rain, heatwaves and thunderstorms. The good news – most areas are facing only an average risk of fires, but the bureau’s Sandy Whight warned against complacency. “Even short periods of hot and windy weather will raise the fire risk, so communities need to have their bushfire plans ready,” she said.
LAKERS TAKE THE NBA TITLE
For the first time since the late basketball legend Kobe Bryant claimed his fifth and final title a decade ago, the Los Angeles Lakers have won the NBA finals. Led by star players LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who claimed 28 points and 19 points respectively, the Lakers beat rivals Miami Heat 106-93 to take the finals series 4 games to 2. It’s the 17th Championship win for the team – a tied record with the Boston Celtics. James was named the NBA finals Most Valued Player (MVP) for the fourth time. But it was a bittersweet win for the Lakers, who would have loved Bryant to be there to see it. “All we wanted to do was do it for him,” Davis said. “I know he’s looking down on us, proud of us.” Bryant, his daughter and 7 others died in a helicopter crash in January.
WE’VE EARNED IT…
So much heavy news… A Jennifer Aniston Instagram post with her new puppy is surely in order. His name – Lord Chesterfield [said in your highest of high squeals…].
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12.30pm (AEDT) – Greens leader Adam Bandt gives his post-Budget address at the National Press Club in Canberra
No Bra Day (suits us)
Birthdays for actor Sacha Baron Cohen (1971) and Olympic champ Ian Thorpe (1982)
• Greenwich in London established as the universal time meridian of longitude (1884)
• US champ Simone Biles becoming the most decorated gymnast in history when she wins record 25th medal at the World Championships (2019)
• the birthdays of Margaret Thatcher (1925) and Jamal Khashoggi (1958)
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