Friday, October 1: Gladys Berejiklian who has stood at the helm of NSW since 2017 has today announced her resignation as the state’s premier.
The shocking news arrived after the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) confirmed it was investigating whether the NSW Premier “breached public trust” or “encouraged corrupt conduct” amid her secretive relationship with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire. In what was her last press conference, the Liberal leader said it “pains her” to make the announcement, particularly at this time, but was “given no other option”.
The politician became a cultural icon as Australian citizens tuned in to watch her at daily press conferences, during the worst outbreaks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve grieved and supported each other during these tragedies,” she said in a statement on Friday.
“I hope you know that you will remain foremost in my thoughts, the courage that you display in your lives every day has inspired me every step of the way, the courage and the support you’ve shown me has humbled me and made me a better leader and a better person.
“Serving you has been the greatest privilege of my life. Please know that every day I gave it my all and worked as hard as I could to create a better future for our state and its people. I truly believe that NSW is a place where every person, irrespective of their background and circumstances has the opportunity to be their best to make a difference.
“So as I address you for the final time as your premier, please stay the course and stay safe. We will be shortly out of this lockdown and be able to get on with our lives. New South Wales and its people will come out of this lockdown stronger, and together we will build a future full of optimism and hope. Finally, thank you again for giving me the honour of being your premier.”
From October 18, the investigation which is known as the ‘Operation Keppel’ inquiry will sit and focus on the conduct of Berejiklian and whether she could have reported evidence of corruption against Maguire earlier.
According to The Guardian, the former MP for Wagga Wagga is accused of using “his position as a parliamentarian to secure property deals for companies he was representing, failed to disclose income on his parliamentary disclosure and ran a business from his parliamentary office.”
“I have made it clear on numerous occasions that if any of my ministers were the subject of allegations being investigated by an integrity agency or law enforcement, then he or she should stand aside during the course of the investigation until their name was cleared,” the former Premier added.
Her resignation comes into effect when the New South Wales Liberal Party can elect a new parliamentary leader.
It is unknown if Berejiklian’s resignation will change the NSW “freedom day” as it is colloquially known.
Tile credit: Mediacolors / Construction Photography / Avalon / Getty Images