After the NSW upper house voted to refer Gladys Berejiklian to corruption watchdog ICAC, a vote from the lower house kept the premier safe – for now.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has managed to avoid being referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) following a motion put forward by Labor.
It comes weeks after the premier’s relationship with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire was revealed in a separate ICAC commission, prompting concerns that Berejiklian was aware of – and perhaps even complicit in – her partner’s dodgy dealings.
In a motion put forward by Labor yesterday, the NSW upper house voted 22 to 15 to refer Gladys Berejiklian to ICAC. However, the premier was subsequently saved by the lower house, who blocked the vote 43 to 35 (not an unexpected outcome considering the NSW government currently has a majority at this level of parliament). ICAC is only obliged to consider a motion if it is passed by both houses.
Nevertheless, the outcome in the upper house shows an important shift within the parliament, with crossbenchers who previously supported the premier now voting against her.
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According to AAP, the Animal Justice and Shooters, Fishers and Famers parties – who last month both voted in favour of Berejiklian in a no-confidence motion brought by Opposition Leader Jodi McKay – now feel as though there is enough evidence to justify an investigation into potential corruption.
“(This) signifies very serious concern right across the political spectrum about these matters, and the desire from the majority, at least in the upper house, to have these matters independently and thoroughly investigated by the corruption watchdog,” Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House Adam Searle described of the vote.
A motion to refer Gladys Berejiklian to ICAC is being debated in Parliament now. No Ministers are speaking to defend her! Incredible. Aren’t Ministers supposed to be the Praetorian Guard of a Premier/Prime Minister?
— Michael Daley (@michaeldaleyMP) November 12, 2020
During the proceedings in the upper house, One Nation leader Mark Latham argued that the premier, who had claimed her relationship with Maguire was not of “sufficient status” to go public, had downplayed it to ICAC.
According to The Guardian, Latham revealed that Maguire had keys to her house and had returned there as recently as September to collect his belongings. Latham also alleged that the premier had acted as “a spy against her own staff”.
On top of her relationship with Maguire, Berejiklian’s potential involvement in the shredding of documents pertaining to a $252m grants scheme – 95 per cent of which was allocated to councils held by Coalition seats – is also in question.
My question to Gladys Berejiklian;
Given that your office shredded the documents that you wrote on and delete files relating to the Stronger Communities Fund, will you today direct the Department of Premier and Cabinet to recover these deleted files? #nswpol #questiontime
— Jodi McKay (@JodiMcKayMP) November 10, 2020
It comes as Gladys Berejiklian is calling for a change to the National Anthem in order to acknowledge Aboriginal Australians – a move which has largely been perceived as tokenistic and distractionary.
Gladys Berejiklian has been in office for 3 years. I can't recall her raising indigenous recognition before this. What with the ICAC scandal and the hidden relationship you have to wonder about the sincerity. This is a woman who whinges about homeless people in Martin Place.
— Former Senate candidate 2016, political commentary (@bugwannostra) November 11, 2020