Gladys Berejiklian resigns as state premier in Australia following an investigation.
The anti-corruption commission in New South Wales is investigating a corruption claim against a disgraced state politician who was involved in a covert relationship with the state leader.
Gladys Berejiklian, the premier of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia, resigned abruptly after the state’s corruption watchdog announced it was investigating whether she was involved in activity that “constituted or entailed a breach of public trust.”
“I enjoy my position… but I have been given no choice,” Berejiklian said Friday during a news conference, adding that the concerns under investigation were “historical in nature.”
“I can certainly state that I have always acted with the utmost integrity,” she stated.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of New South Wales announced on its website that it will hold more public hearings on October 18 as part of its continuing investigation, Operation Keppel.
That inquiry has already established that Berejiklian was involved in a covert relationship with a state senator who is the subject of the probe into corruption.
According to the ICAC statement, the commission’s investigation has been expanded to include “whether, between 2012 and 2018, the Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP 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 interests as a person who was in a persona.”
The alleged infringement concerned grant cash offered to community organisations in Maguire’s Wagga Wagga electorate.
Maguire testified last year that he received packages containing thousands of dollars in cash at his parliament office as part of a plot to fraudulently obtain visas for Chinese people.
Berejiklian also admitted to the anti-corruption authority last year that she had been in a “close personal relationship” with Maguire “around the 2015 state election.”
She stated that she kept the connection a secret due to her “very reclusive nature.”
“My resignation as premier could not have come at a worse moment, but the timing is entirely beyond of my control, as the ICAC chose to take this action amid the most trying periods in the state’s history,” she said on Friday.
Following her appointment, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison lauded Berejiklian, describing her as a personal friend who had “demonstrated heroic traits” in her position.
“I am aware of the extent to which she is trusted and appreciated by the people of New South Wales,” he continued.
Berejiklian was appointed Premier of New South Wales in January 2017 following Mike Baird’s departure.
She has represented northern Sydney in the state parliament since 2003 and previously served as treasurer and transport minister.