Premier walks fine line over Maguire relationship: Ex-DPP
A former director of public prosecutions says Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her ex-lover could be considered legally as "very close" to being intimately involved, which could have triggered conflict of interest disclosure obligations.
Ms Berejiklian told the Independent Commission Against Corruption last week that she "didn't feel the relationship had sufficient substance to be made public".
When asked by The Sunday Telegraph if she fell in love with Daryl Maguire, she answered "I did", and when asked if she hoped the relationship could lead to marriage, she said: "I thought it could, yes."
Former DPP Nicholas Cowdery said those comments suggested a level of intimacy beyond what had been publicly disclosed.
"If she says she was in love with him and admits they were in a close personal relationship, and they were spending a lot of time together then it's getting very close to being intimate," Mr Cowdery said.
"The Ministerial Code of Conduct defines a family member as including someone in a 'intimate personal relationship'."
"The issue is whether or not the 'close personal relationship' described by the Premier satisfies that definition."
"Much depends on the precise nature of the relationship over five years. The definition of 'family member' as including an 'intimate personal relationship' is well capable of capturing a relationship of this kind."
"If the relationship was considered as an 'intimate personal relationship' there are obligations of disclosure on the Premier that may not have been satisfied."
Ms Berejiklian said she was in a "close personal relationship" with Maguire, who was trying to cash in on property developments, including at Badgerys Creek, but explicitly stated she was not in an "intimate personal relationship" with him. She said she had done nothing wrong.
The distinction between "close personal relationship" and "intimate personal relationship" is important when considering the code of conduct governing all ministers.
Under the ministerial code, a conflict of interest can arise if a matter involves a family member, defined as the minister's spouse, child, parent, sibling or "any other person with whom the minister is in an intimate personal relationship". A conflict is triggered if a decision could "reasonably be expected" to bring a private benefit to the minister or family member and the minister had the potential to be influenced in their decision.
When asked last week if she was in an "intimate personal relationship" with Maguire, Ms Berejiklian replied: "No."
The Ethics Centre executive director Simon Longstaff said: "It is clear that the term is meant to capture any relationship where a minister will have a special regard for the private interests of another person."
One minister, angered by the comments about the relationship, said they had "lost a lot of respect" for the Premier.
"You can't be arguing opposite positions all at once."
Originally published as Premier walks fine line over Maguire relationship: Ex-DPP