Gladys Berejiklian has resigned as premier of New South Wales, following an announcement earlier on Friday that she is being investigated by the state’s anti-corruption body.
Speaking on Friday afternoon, Berejiklian said it was a “difficult decision” but maintained that she has “always acted with the highest level of integrity”.
Berejiklian said standing aside was not an option, as NSW residents need certainty during the pandemic, saying “I do not want to be a distraction from what should be the focus of the state government during the pandemic”.
Her resignation will take effect once the NSW Liberal Party elects a new leader, and she will also resign from Parliament.
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Earlier on Friday, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said it will investigate if Berejiklian breached public trust and was liable to encourage the activities of her former partner, former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire.
The Premier is expected to appear before public hearings, which will commence on Monday, October 18, and form part of Operation Keppel, which was established to investigate if Maguire abused his office for personal gain.
The Commission said in a statement that its investigation of Berejiklian relates to conduct between 2012 and 2018.
In particular, the Commission will be examining circumstances around grant funding that was promised or awarded to a number of organisations, including the Australian Clay Target Association in Wagga Wagga in 2016/2017 and the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga in 2018, when Maguire was the local member of parliament.
The Commission said it is investigating if there was a conflict between Berejiklian’s public duties and private interests when she was in a personal relationship with Maguire between 2015 and 2020, and if she breached public trust by not reporting anything that she suspected could constitute corruption.
The ICAC will also be investigating whether Maguire used his parliamentary position to gain improper benefits for himself and people he is associated with.
Maguire served as the member for Wagga Wagga for nearly 20 years before he resigned in 2018, following an admission to a separate ICAC inquiry that he had sought payment in relation to a property deal.