Daryl Maguire, the former NSW MP under investigation for alleged corruption, had a key to the Premier’s Sydney home, One Nation member Mark Latham has claimed in state parliament.
Mr Latham asked on Thursday morning: “Given that Daryl Maguire had a key to the Premier’s North Shore home for many years, and while cohabitating came and went as he liked, as recently as last month – doesn’t this demonstrate an intimate personal relationship, and the Premier’s failure under the ministerial code of conduct to declare all of Maguire’s business interests?”
He was addressing the leader of the government in the upper house, Don Harwin, who responded he’d take the question on notice.
Later in the afternoon, Ms Berejiklian was asked about the claim in the lower house by opposition leader Jodi McKay.
“Notwithstanding what some people have chosen to say, that’s been wrong and incorrect. I’ve held my court because at the end of the day, I respect the process,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“And I respect the people of this state too much to respond to the kind of horrible things that have been said, which frankly shouldn’t have been said, which aren’t even true.”
As the question was broached in the lower house, speaker Jonathan O’Dea said the topic raised a problem related to balancing parliamentary privilege with “suppression orders that ICAC has made.”
Transport Minister Andrew Constance, a firm backer of the Premier, called a press conference later in the afternoon to indicate he was planning to refer both Mr Latham and Ms McKay to the Privileges Committee.
Ms McKay fired back in a statement: “Mr Constance should be well aware my questions referred to matters widely reported in the news media prior to Question Time.”
Mr Latham’s claim calls into question Ms Berejiklian’s insistence that her relationship with Mr Maguire was insignificant.
The Premier has told the media she kept her relationship with him private because she “didn’t feel the relationship had sufficient substance to be made public”.
Despite Ms Berejiklian’s wish to keep the relationship from public view, the affair was sensationally revealed when the Premier took the witness stand before the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) last week.
The Premier revealed she had been in what she referred to as a “close personal relationship” with Mr Maguire for five years, starting in 2015. In subsequent media interviews, she said she was in love with the former Wagga Wagga MP and, at one point, hoped they would marry.
When Mr Maguire took the stand, he described the relationship as “on-and-off”.
The issue of whether their relationship could be considered “intimate” could have serious implications for the Premier.
That’s because she is bound by the ministerial code of conduct to declare pecuniary interests – that is to say, financial interests – of any immediate family member.
The definition of a family member, according to the code, includes “any … person with whom the minister is in an intimate personal relationship”.
The ICAC heard intercepted phone calls between the Premier and Mr Maguire in which he spoke about deals he was working on.
Mr Maguire agreed before the ICAC that he was concerned that the information he shared with Ms Berejiklian could cause issues for her in her role.
“I would have been concerned that it would cause an issue for her, yes,” he told the inquiry.
Ms Berejiklian has repeatedly maintained she’s done nothing wrong, and that she would have reported Mr Maguire’s dealings if she ever became aware of wrongdoing.
“If I was aware of any wrongdoing I would have reported it,” she has previously said.