Gladys Should Go
The essential political principle of accountability should apply to leaders no matter what their other qualities.
There is no doubt this has been a very tough week for NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
There's also no doubt that she has been a competent and popular premier. Part of that appeal is that she appears to break so many moulds of what people expect from a political leader.
She's not flashy or filled with hubris; rather she has applied herself diligently and persistently in her role. That approach has endeared her to voters, the Liberal Party and media alike.
But what was revealed yesterday should change all of that.
Let's ignore her 'close personal relationship' with disgraced MP Daryl Maguire for a moment and just consider what the ICAC hearing revealed.
As Premier, Ms Berejiklian was clearly aware that her then Parliamentary Secretary, was moonlighting as a facilitator for property developers. In years past, he had boasted directly to her of the commissions he received or expected to receive for providing that service.
Here is one such exchange:
When Berejiklian became Premier she appointed Mr Maguire as a Parliamentary Secretary even though she knew his history of property deals on the side.
In 2018 she was forced to sack her boyfriend over public corruption allegations with claims he was trying to broker property deals between large investors, some of which were Chinese.
At the time, the Premier expressed her shock and disappointment in her official statement of July 15, 2018.
I was shocked by the events of Friday and I spoke to Mr Maguire late that afternoon to express in the strongest possible terms my deep disappointment.
That single statement rings hollow in light of what ICAC revealed.
However, even if it were true, surely it was incumbent on a State Premier to reveal what she knew to any investigator of her partner's historical side deals.
It would also have been the appropriate time to reveal the continuing 'close personal relationship', if only from an abundance of self-preservation.
The evidence tendered thus far does not suggest that Berejiklian did either of those things.
Instead, the secrets were maintained, one can assume in the hope they would never be revealed, until the ICAC hearing.
The texts and phone recordings are a very heavy blow on the Premier. Thus far she is standing firm and garnishing powerful support from political allies and foes alike.
I am confidant that support is forthcoming because Ms Berejiklian is likeable, capable and a media darling. She may be all of those things but it's what she didn't do that is the real issue.
When a previous Liberal Premier was forced to resign for not declaring a bottle of wine he received, how can a Premier stay when she 'forgot' her Parliamentary Secretary and boyfriend, was using his position to do questionable deals for personal gain.