In her own words, Gladys Berejiklian said her resignation “could not have come at a worse time”.
Why do you do that?
It comes down to a few things, one of which is the powerful NSW Corruption Watch.
The Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (ICAC) announced Friday that it is investigating whether Ms Berejiklian breached public trust when she made grants to several community organizations in the New South Wales Riverina region between 2012 and 2018.
This extraordinary revelation came as the country prepares for its most challenging months in terms of COVID-19 hospitalizations and begins the process of emerging from lockdown.
This is what ICAC is and why it is investigating Ms. Berejiklian.
What is the ICAC investigating?
The Independent Anti-Corruption Commission is the body tasked with investigating alleged corrupt conduct in the New South Wales public sector, including Members of Parliament.
In this case, the oversight body will examine whether there was a conflict between Ms Berejiklian’s public duties and private interests when she was in a relationship with former Liberal MP, Daryl Maguire.
Specifically, ICAC will examine grant funding awarded or promised to the Australian Mud Target Association and the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga, when Mr. Maguire was a local member.
It will also investigate whether Ms Berejiklian has engaged in conduct “involving the dishonest or partial exercise of any of her official functions” or if she refuses to “exercise her duty to report any matter suspected of corrupt conduct” in connection with the activities of the master. Maguire.
These questions will be the subject of a public investigation that will begin later this month.
What we know about grants
Last year, ABC 7.30 revealed that Ms Berejiklian oversaw a fund that set aside $5.5 million for the Australian Clay Target Association club and convention center in Wagga Wagga when she was the state treasurer.
The program also revealed that Maguire had written to Ms. Berejiklian asking for her help to fund the project.
The grant was approved by the Regional Growth Fund for Environment and Tourism in August 2017.
A New South Wales parliamentary inquiry into government grants also heard earlier this year that Ms Berejiklian announced $20 million for the Riverina Conservatory of Music during the 2018 Wagga Wagga by-election, sparked by Maguire’s resignation.
The money was to continue working on $10 million to redevelop the facility.
This raised questions about Ms. Berejiklian’s role in facilitating grants in Maguire constituents and whether she had declared a personal conflict of interest during the process.
Ms Berejiklian confirmed her relationship with Mr. Maguire during last year’s ICAC hearing.
Maguire resigned after admitting in a separate investigation that he sought payment for a real estate deal.
The ICAC is also investigating whether Mr. Maguire has used his position to “improperly gain gain for himself” and his associates.
Berejiklian has denied involvement in any corrupt dealings.
what is happening now?
Ms Berejiklian announced today that she will resign as Prime Minister and Member of Parliament.
She said she would step down once by-elections were held.
While speculation has already begun about who will fill this role, all eyes will be on the ICAC investigation, which has been dubbed “Operation Cable”.
The public investigation is expected to continue for 10 days, starting Monday, October 18, with the purpose of gathering more evidence.
The list of witnesses will be published in the next few weeks.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, procedures will be performed remotely via video link and live broadcast.
When the investigation is conducted, the ICAC will publish a report to Parliament detailing its findings and any recommendations.
Former Politicians Who Confronted ICAC
Ms Berejiklian is not the first NSW Prime Minister to be summoned to appear before the ICAC, nor is she the only one to resign as a result.
Ironically, Liberal Prime Minister Nick Greiner, who was responsible for creating the ICAC, was found guilty by the body in 1992 of appointing a Liberal Fellow of Parliament to a senior position in the public service to regain a safe seat.
In 2014, Liberal Prime Minister Barry O’Farrell resigned after falsely denying to the ICAC that he had obtained a bottle of wine from an aide to labor power broker Eddie Obeid – whose shady exploits have been well documented by the Corruption Watch along with former Labor Minister Ian MacDonald. .