Premier defends 11 trips to ex Daryl Maguire’s electorate
Daryl Maguire had five times the number of officially organised meetings in the Premier's diary than most backbenchers in the four years before he left parliament.
It can also be revealed Ms Berejiklian took at least 11 primarily taxpayer-funded trips to the electorate of Wagga Wagga since 2015, outstripping regional electorates such as Barwon and Orange by between three and 10 fold.
Ms Berejiklian said all her trips and meetings were for official business and she did not breach any rules, and the number of official stakeholder visits secured by Mr Maguire was not unusual.
She said "any backbencher" can have a meeting with her, but "unless you have a stakeholder it's not recorded".
"So lots of backbenchers come to me, 10 or 20 times a year, especially when Parliament's sitting that normal," she said.
When it was put to her that Mr Maguire had five meetings but most backbenchers secured only one, Ms Berejiklian said: "Some MPs would have had up to 10 (meetings), depending on what they wanted to come and see me about".
No other backbencher was at more than two stakeholder meetings with Ms Berejiklian between April 2015 and August 2018.
Under the rules, only meetings with stakeholders present need to be recorded; meetings only between MPs and Ministers are not.
An analysis of Ms Berejiklian's official meeting diaries spanning her time as Treasurer and Premier until Mr Maguire was sacked reveal the disgraced MP had at least five stakeholder meetings with Ms Berejiklian.
Ministerial diary rules require that meetings with MPs and another stakeholder must be recorded, however meetings only between MPs are not.
The same analysis reveals there is not a single other backbench MP who was afforded more than two official stakeholder meetings in the Premier's diary in the same period.
In that time, 20 backbenchers secured one single meeting (including two CDP MPs), and five secured two meetings.
Mr Maguire met with Ms Berejiklian in an official capacity three times when she was Treasurer and twice as Premier for a total of five meetings with stakeholders.
Labor shadow minister Penny Sharpe said the Premier had questions to answer.
"Yet again the Premier has twisted the truth in relation to the favours and access given to Daryl Maguire," she said.
"No other MP has had the level of access and influence to Gladys Berejiklian as a minister and Premier."
The Daily Telegraph was told the meetings with Mr Maguire were with local councils, Wagga Wagga constituents, or related to his electorate.
A spokeswoman said the Premier "meets backbenchers regularly, especially during sitting weeks, when she often meets with several each day".
MPs have also noted a disparity in the Premier's official travel, with at least 11 trips to Wagga Wagga recorded since 2015. Of those, at least four related to the Wagga Wagga by-election.
A spokeswoman said the Premier is not responsible for electorate visit arrangements or itinerary, which are "prepared by the Premier's Operations Team".
Other regional seats which were winnable for the government did not receive the same attention from the Premier.
Orange, which sat on a margin of less than one per cent until the 2019 election and was held by the Shooters Fishers and Farmers, received at least one visit.
Barwon, which was lost by the government to the SFF at the 2019 election received at least three visits.
There is no publicly available data that spans all of the years dating back to 2015, however The Daily Telegraph has researched social media posts and available press releases relating to the trips.
The Daily Telegraph was told that the Premier visited Bathurst five times between May 2017 and February 2019, and Goulburn seven times between April 2017 and March 2019.
Albury, which sat on a similar margin to Wagga Wagga, received seven visits.
The Daily Telegraph was told that outside the by-election, the amount of travel to Wagga Wagga and Albury was comparable.
Member for Orange Phil Donato said Ms Berejiklian had only visited once in recent memory, when she was "accused of blackmailing locals by saying they would only get sports funding if they elected a Coalition member".
Originally published as Premier defends 11 trips to ex Daryl Maguire's electorate