BREAKING: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has resigned after the ICAC investigation revealed that she had engaged in conduct that constituted a breach of public trust.
Berejiklian has been the subject of an ICAC investigation which sought to determine if she breached public trust by failing to reveal a conflict of interest between herself and her then-partner Daryl Maguire – the NSW Member for Wagga Wagga.
The premier was advised last night about an ICAC statement which was released today concerning historic matters.
Berejiklian fronted the press at 1pm with the following statement:
In all the decisions I have ever made as a minister, or as premier of NSW my first consideration has always been the well-being and welfare of the people of this state. I state categorically, I have always acted with the highest level of integrity. History will demonstrate that I’ve always executed my duties with the highest level of integrity for the benefit of the people of NSW who I have had the privilege to serve.
As the leader of the NSW government, I have expected high 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 that person has held while an investigation was completed.
That same standard must always apply to me also as premier.
However, standing aside is not an option for me as the premier of NSW. The people of this state need certainty as to who their leader is during the challenging times of the pandemic.
I cannot predict how long it will take ICAC to complete this investigation, let alone deliver a report, in circumstances where I was first called to give evidence in a public hearing nearly four months ago.
Therefore, 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 NSW Liberal Party elect a new parliamentary leader.
In order to allow the new leader and government a fresh start, I’ll also resign from the NSW Parliament once I’ve consulted the electoral commission on the appropriate timing for a by-election given the Covid restrictions.
My resignation as premier could not occur at a worse time, but the timing is completely outside of my control as the ICAC has chosen to take this action during the most challenging weeks of the most challenging times in the state’s history. That is the ICAC’s prerogative.
Resigning at this time is against every instinct in my being and something which I do not want to do. I love my job and I love serving the community, but I have been given no option following the statement which has been issued today.
To continue as premier would disrupt the state during a time when our entire attention should be focused on the challenges confronting NSW. I do not want to be a distraction from what should be the focus of the pandemic – which is the well-being of our citizens – it always has been and always will be.
Notwithstanding the challenges of the last few years and few months in particular, I have never felt stronger nor more confident in my leadership. I have absolutely no regrets during my time in public life. At times we all stumble and pick ourselves up, we dust ourselves off and we start against stronger and wiser than before. I have done this many times, as we all have.
My only regret will be not being able to finish the job and make sure that the people of NSW transition into living freely with Covid. However, I’m extremely confident that whoever succeeds me will be more than capable to continue this job. Please give them your trust and confidence.
The premier went on to thank essential workers and the people of Australia during the time of Covid. Berejiklian thanked the Liberal Party, her electorate, and her political colleagues.
Berejiklian finished by thanking the people of NSW.
“I hope you know that you will remain foremost in my thoughts. The courage that you display every day has inspired me at every step of the way. […] Serving you has been the greatest privilege of my life.”