Gladys Berejiklian has resigned from her role as the Premier of New South Wales, fronting a press conference on Friday afternoon to make the sudden announcement.
The resignation of the Premier follows the release of a statement by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) that further investigations into allegations of corruption will take place.
Ms Berejiklian said, “I have had to make an extremely difficult decision overnight, but one which I feel obliged to do because of the love and respect that I have for the people of New South Wales and the high regard which I have for the office of Premier.
“I was advised late yesterday afternoon the Independent Commission Against Corruption would today release a public statement in which it will state it is investigating allegations made about me concerning matters relating to the former member for Wagga Wagga.
“As the leader of the New South Wales Government, I have expected the highest of standards of myself and my colleagues. 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 reason for my stance was not to have made any presumptions as to their conduct, but rather to maintain the integrity of the public office which was held whilst an investigation was completed. That same standard must apply to me as Premier.”
Ms Berejiklian stated that as she could not predict how long the ICAC investigation would take, and how long it would be for the ICAC to release a report, it was in the State’s best interest for Ms Berejiklian to resign, rather than step aside.
“It pains me to announce that I have no option but to resign from the office of Premier. My resignation will take effect as soon as the New South Wales liberal party can elect a new Parliamentary leader.
“In order to allow the new leader and government a fresh start, I will also resign from the New South Wales Parliament once I have consulted the electoral commission on appropriate timing for a by-election given the COVID restrictions.”
ICAC states it will hold a further public inquiry to investigate whether, between 2012 and 2018, Ms Berejiklian engaged in conduct that:
- Constituted or involved a breach of public trust by exercising public functions in circumstances where she was in a position of conflict between her public duties and her private interest as a person who was in a personal relationship with the then NSW Member of Parliament, Mr Daryl Maguire, in connection with: grant funding promised and/or awarded to the Australian Clay Target Association Inc in 2016/2017; and grant funding promised and/or awarded to the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga in 2018; and/or
- constituted or involved the partial exercise of any of her official functions, in connection with: grant funding promised and/or awarded to the Australian Clay Target Association Inc in 2016/2017; grant funding promised and/or awarded to the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga in 2018; and/or
- constituted or involved the dishonest or partial exercise of any of her official functions and/or a breach of public trust by refusing to exercise her duty pursuant to section 11 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 to report any matter that she suspected on reasonable grounds concerned or may concern corrupt conduct in relation to the conduct of Mr Daryl Maguire; and/or
- was liable to allow or encourage the occurrence of corrupt conduct by Mr Maguire.
“The people of New South Wales need certainty as to who their leader is during these challenging times of the pandemic,” Ms Berejiklian said.