Waleed Aly DEFENDS ousted Gladys Berejiklian and blasts corruption watchdog ICAC on The Project


Waleed Aly has defended Gladys Berejiklian and questioned whether New South Wales’ anti-corruption watchdog has gone too far.

The Project host said the mission of the Independent Commission Against Corruption may have ‘backfired’ with the all-powerful body running the risk of ‘eroding confidence’ in the state leaders without cause.

Ms Berejiklian was forced to stand down from her role as premier last week after it was revealed she is at the centre of a corruption probe linked to her disgraced ex-lover Daryl Maguire who was found to have abused his public office.

She was not the first Liber Party premier in NSW to be ousted under a cloud of corruption with Barry O’Farrell shunted in 2014 for accepting a $3,000 bottle of wine without declaring it. 

Ms Berejiklian was forced to stand down from her role as premier last week after it was revealed she is at the centre of a corruption probe linked to her disgraced ex-lover Daryl Maguire (pictured together) who was found to have abused his public office. 

NSW Liberal premiers ICAC has brought down

NICK GREINER: The Independent Commission Against Corruption was established by the Greiner Government in 1988 only for the Terry Metherell affair to force his resignation in June 1992.

Mr Metherell, a former Liberal education minister, was now an independent in a hung parliament and he was offered a job running the new Environment Protection Agency, within the department, so the government could win back his Sydney North Shore seat of Davidson. 

BARRY O’FARRELL: A month after winning a landslide election victory, Mr O’Farrell in April 2011 was gifted a $3,000 bottle of Grange Hermitage which he didn’t declare

He resigned after this was revealed at an ICAC hearing in April 2014.

GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN: In August, 2021 it emerged that Ms Berejiklian showed ‘interest’ in a proposed $5.5million grant for a shooting association clubhouse and conference facility in her secret lover’s electorate, documents show.

Mr Maguire who quit in 2018, had been accused of abusing his public office by ICAC before admitting to being involved in a cash-for-visa scheme and seeking secret commissions to help broker property deals.

Ms Berejiklian stood down in October but insists she did nothing wrong. 

Before that Nick Greiner in 1992 stood down for offering a public service job to former education minister Terry Metherell.

‘One of the interesting elements of this is that ICAC is there to give the public confidence in politicians and in the political system,’ Aly said.

‘But is there a danger it could be doing the opposite and that ICAC may have done that by getting rid of premiers that are widely respected, seen as competent, and who have been of integrity?

‘Seeing a Premier in NSW disappear over a bottle of wine, actually what it does is erode confidence in the political system unnecessarily.’

Federal shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus furiously disagreed and said politicians and commentators should think twice before criticising the anti-corruption commission just because ‘they don’t like what they’ve discovered’.

‘I think there’s been some ridiculous criticisms made in recent days of the NSW ICAC which is simply doing its job,’ he told the program.

‘Bear in mind the former Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, resigned of her own volition. Nothing about the ICAC scheme required her to resign.’

‘So it’s wrong those people are blaming ICAC… she could have simply stood aside. Or she could have decided not to stand aside at all and undergo the investigation that’s now under way.’

Ms Berejiklain sensationally revealed at an ICAC hearing in March that she had a secret five year relationship with the member for Wagga Wagga.

Mr Maguire who quit in 2018, had been accused of abusing his public office by ICAC before admitting to being involved in a cash-for-visa scheme and seeking secret commissions to help broker property deals.

In August it emerged that Ms Berejiklian showed ‘interest’ in a proposed $5.5million grant for a shooting association clubhouse and conference facility in her secret lover’s electorate, documents show. 

Federal shadow attorney Mark Dreyfus (pictured on The Project) said there's been some ridiculous criticisms made in recent days of the NSW ICAC which is simply doing its job

Federal shadow attorney Mark Dreyfus (pictured on The Project) said there’s been some ridiculous criticisms made in recent days of the NSW ICAC which is simply doing its job

Little more than two decades later, in 2014, Barry O'Farrell resigned over an undeclared $3,000 bottle of Grange Hermitage, bottled in the year of his birth - 1959

Nick Greiner became its first victim in 1992 - just four years after he established the Independent Commission Against Corruption in a bid to uncover Labor scandals during Neville Wran's decade in power. He is pictured in 2018

Little more than two decades later, in 2014, Barry O’Farrell (left) resigned over an undeclared $3,000 bottle of Grange Hermitage, bottled in the year of his birth – 1959. While in 1992 Nick Greiner (right) was also forced to leave office due to ICAC inquiry

But the ex-premier continues to insist she’s done nothing wrong.

The ugly political episode has renewed calls for a federal anti-corruption watchdog.

The Coalition government had committed to establishing such a body six years ago but have so far failed to follow through.

But this week with the NSW leadership fiasco emerging Scott Morrison announced the proposed the Commonwealth integrity commission to keep an eye on federal parliamentarians.

In August it emerged that Ms Berejiklian (pictured) showed 'interest' in a proposed $5.5million grant for a shooting association clubhouse and conference facility in her secret lover's electorate, documents show

In August it emerged that Ms Berejiklian (pictured) showed ‘interest’ in a proposed $5.5million grant for a shooting association clubhouse and conference facility in her secret lover’s electorate, documents show

Ms Berejiklain sensationally revealed at an ICAC hearing (pictured) in March that she had a secret five year relationship with the member for Wagga Wagga

Ms Berejiklain sensationally revealed at an ICAC hearing (pictured) in March that she had a secret five year relationship with the member for Wagga Wagga

However legal experts from the Centre for Public Integrity have slammed the body as a ‘sham’ and even said it might actually aid corruption.

‘It’s not good enough. It would be the weakest watchdog in the country the Centre for Public Integrity called it,’ Mr Dreyfus said.

‘More of a lap dog than a watchdog.’

While the Labor politician acknowledged there are examples in every state and territory where anti-corruption commissions have overstepped the mark, that’s ‘not a reason for not having one’ at national level.

The public inquiry on Ms Berejiklian will be held for about 10 days from October 18, overseen by Assistant Commissioner Ruth McColl SC.

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