Secret lovers: NSW Gladys Berejiklian and little-known ex-Wagga MP Daryl Maguire
He called her ‘babe’. She described him as her ‘numero uno’ and nicknamed him ‘hokis’, an Armenian term of affection meaning ‘my soul’.
But for Gladys Berejiklian there was always one thing she loved more than Wagga MP Daryl Maguire: being NSW Premier.
And that is now in jeopardy – with Maguire due to make a dramatic appearance in the witness box at the ICAC on Wednesday.
It comes amid a series of troubling revelations for the Premier, with a photograph of emerging and Maguire meeting Chinese leader Xi Jinping together, and claims in Nine newspapers that she met two publicans with a criminal record at her former lover’s behest.
Jaws fell to the floor in the ministerial suites of Sydney’s CBD on Monday when the Premier, 50, admitted to a ‘close’ personal relationship with Maguire, 61, spanning five years.
Berejiklian has never done anything to discourage the myth she is ‘married to the job’ and keeps minimal personal life outside of government work.
Her colleagues apparently bought into it.
Her deputy Dominic Perrottet has pointed out she hadn’t taken a day’s leave all year, as she was too busy managing the government’s response to the bushfires, COVID-19 and a recession.
Berejiklian herself has hardly put the workaholic myth to bed. In the lead-up to last year’s state election she told an interviewer: ‘My job is like 24/7 so I don’t really do much else, but I don’t mind.’
She neglected to mention one of the things she did do in her spare time was maintain a secret romance with Maguire – while he was entangled in a corruption probe – since about the time of the March 2015 state election.
Daryl Maguire, wife Maureen, real estate agent son James and daughter Kara at his 2011-election win party. Mr Maguire split with Maureen prior to his relationship with the Premier
Berejiklian (right) would only say on Tuesday that her relationship with Maguire (left) had morphed into a ‘close personal’ one about the time of the 2015 state election
Texts were shown to the ICAC inquiry where Maguire in 2014 described Berejiklian as ‘hokis’ – an Armenian term of affection
‘He was someone that I trusted,’ the Premier explained to the ICAC, describing the regional, financially-driven MP as a close colleague for fifteen years.
But their friendship clearly morphed into something more after Maguire’s marriage to his wife Maureen – mother of his two children, James and Kara – collapsed.
The notoriously private Premier claims she even didn’t tell her family, her closest friends or her colleagues of the relationship’s existence.
She didn’t believe it merited ‘sufficient status’.
Berejiklian and Maguire had apparently hoped to bring their love affair into the open after his resignation from Parliament, but it never happened.
The Premier deciding to cut off all contact in September due to the ICAC inquiries.
Now, more than a month after the relationship ended, all has been exposed in the most public of ways.
The couple’s calls and texts detailed in public, and Berejiklian has forced into the humiliating position of having address each of them.
It may have devastating consequences for the Premier’s political career. The scandal has sparked entirely valid questions about her judgment.
Troubling photo: Berejiklian and Maguire are seen meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in November 2014
Meanwhile, her goody-goody image – she was compared to a nun this week – is in tatters.
Bad boy radio host Kyle Sandilands even said he had more respect for Berejiklian, because she’s ‘got game’ (he also said he’d thought she was a lesbian.)
Meanwhile, a common reaction from commentators has been that Berejiklian was surely ‘batting below average’.
Particularly given she’s already one of the country’s most politically successful women and has grown in stature handling the crises which have struck New South Wales this year.
Finding comfort in one another
Berejiklian and Maguire had apparently sought solace in one another for quite some time.
One message from 2014, before Ms Berejiklian was premier, appears to reveal Maguire telling Mr Berejiklian about how a motel had sold for $5.8 million, and how he was entitled to $5,000
Texts tendered in front of the ICAC revealed Maguire called her ‘hawkiss’ -a misspelling of the Armenian term – as early as September 2014.
‘Hawkiss good news,’ Maguire said. ‘One of my contacts sold a motel for 5.8 million I had put her in contact so I should make 5k.’
A supportive Berejiklian – then the Transport Minister – replied: ‘Congrats!!! Great News!! Woo hoo’.
The texts allegedly go on to discuss how he made a commission on a property while an MP .
Berejiklian told reporters on Tuesday their relationship had began ‘thereabouts’ the March 2015 election.
But she said ‘it’s a very subjective and personal thing as to when you think somethings changed from a relationship to a close personal relationship.’
Some phone calls played in a private ICAC session after counsel assisting Scott Robertson said it raised ‘questions as to the privacy of the two people involved in the conversation…’ Ms Berijiklian is pictured with Mr Maguire (right) and former premier Barry O’Farrell
A grim Premier Gladys Berejiklian (left and right) faces the media on Tuesday after her boyfriend bombshell was revealed
Phone taps aired at the ICAC dwelt upon conversations where Maguire spoke to her about his personal financial circumstances – including the size of his tax return one year – and a development near the site of Sydney’s forthcoming second airport at Badgerys Creek.
Berejiklian is likely to bleed politically over her comments in one September 2017 call she ‘didn’t need to know’ what Maguire was talking about.
But investigators no doubt heard calls of a more personal nature.
The inquiry broke into private sessions on Monday to listen to recordings deemed potentially too embarrassing for the couple and may hear more explosive evidence when Maguire himself gives evidence on Wednesday.
A turning point in the relationship
Back in 2018, the Premier issued a withering statement announcing she had sacked Maguire following an ICAC hearing.
What is the Maguire ICAC inquiry about?
The Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating whether the former MP for Wagga Wagga, Daryl Maguire, engaged in conduct that breached public trust by using his public office to improperly gain a benefit for himself or entities close to him including the company G8wayInternational.
He was forced to quit the Berejiklian government in 2018 after a separate ICAC inquiry heard evidence he sought payments to help broker deals for property developers.
‘I was shocked by the events of Friday and I spoke to Mr Maguire late that afternoon to express in the strongest possible terms my deep disappointment,’ she said then.
‘He has let down his constituents, the people of NSW and the NSW Liberal Party.’But their ‘close personal relationship’ continued for two years.
It didn’t take long for Berejiklian’s own words about Maguire to be thrown back in her face this week.
Reporters demanded an explanation as to why she kept up the relationship for a further two years.
Berejiklian claimed on Monday that she had been ‘furious’ with Maguire and Maguire with her.
But the Premier said that she was also worried about his welfare.
‘He lost his career, his friends, he lost everything, and he was in a very dark place, and I didn’t feel that I could stop being his friend during that time.’
Berejiklian added that Maguire’s son-in-law had died the day she sacked him ‘and I carried a bit of guilt about those circumstances.’
Not even her family or closest friends knew about their liaison because it was ‘not a relationship I regarded as of sufficient status’, she insisted.
The Premier said she was ‘only human’ and had always assumed her secret lover was complying with parliamentary standards.
Berejiklian said on Tuesday she wasn’t concerned at all by Maguire giving evidence on Wednesday
She claimed she always put the public first and said: ‘Had I known then what I know now, of course I would have had nothing to do with him.
‘But I did not know the extent of what he was alleged to have done.’
She insisted on Tuesday ‘I have done nothing wrong’ and her closest allies in the ministry are still standing by her, despite speculation she’s ‘toast’.
Berejiklian said this week that having her relationship blasted out into the open as part of a corruption investigation was a ‘personal nightmare’.
But with colleagues scheming, Labor leader Jodi McKay crying out in Parliament that she is ‘delusional’ and Maguire set to take to the witness box at the ICAC today, the nightmare may be a long way from over.