Gladys Berejiklian resigned as NSW Premier. She girlbossed too close to the sun, or rather, she has significant questions to answer over what she knew about her former secret lover Daryl Maguire‘s corruption. So, what happens now?
“My resignation as Premier could not have come at a worse time,” Berejiklian said today during her resignation announcement.
“I have been given no option.”
The “no option” she’s talking about here is the statement from NSW’s corruption watchdog: the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). It announced it would be formally investigating (among other things) whether Berejiklian was in a “position of conflict” due to her five-year relationship with Maguire, who himself resigned in disgrace in 2018.
The secret, “on-again, off-again” relationship came out during cross-examination late last year, which was looking into whether Maguire used his position as Wagga Wagga MP for financial gain.
It’s by-election time, baby
Gladys Berejiklian didn’t just resign as Premier; she’s also resigning from parliament. It means a by-election will be triggered in Berejiklian’s seat of Willoughby, which she’s held since 2003.
“In order to allow the new leader and government a fresh start, I will also resign from the New South Wales Parliament once I have consulted the electoral commission on appropriate timing for a by-election given the COVID restrictions,” she said.
Who’s going to be the next NSW Premier?
There’s three names currently being circulated, according to Nine News: Deputy Leader (and Treasurer) Dominic Perrottet, Minister for Planning Rob Stokes, and Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres.
It looks like Stokes has confirmed his tilt:
Rob Stokes has confirmed he will run for leader of the NSW Liberal Party, and Premier. @9NewsAUS
— Chris O’Keefe (@cokeefe9) October 1, 2021
Fun fact: Stokes was one of the names being thrown around in early 2017, when former NSW Premier Mike Baird resigned to spend time with his family. (No, genuinely: it was to support his family.)
Sky News is reporting that Perrottet could run with Environment Minister Matt Kean as his deputy.
“Over the coming days I will be talking to my family and colleagues about how I can best serve the people of NSW to continue to achieve these aims,” Perrottet said in a statement on Friday afternoon.
The NSW Liberal party room will vote in the next party room meeting, scheduled for next Tuesday. However, there’s a chance that will be brought forward, especially given the precarious time NSW is in. It’s also not clear if the meeting will be in person or over Zoom.
So… is Gladys corrupt?
We don’t know – that’s what ICAC is investigating. However, Berejiklian said she’s holding herself to the same standard she expects of other other ministers, and the ICAC investigation could take years.
She insists she isn’t, saying that her “only regret” is not being able to finish the job of getting NSW through Covid.
“Notwithstanding the challenges of the last few years and few months in particular, I have never felt stronger, nor more confident in my leadership,” she said.
“I have absolutely no regrets during my time in public life. At times we all stumble, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start again stronger and wiser than before. I have done this many times, as we all have.”
However, resigning under a cloud of corruption is a NSW Premier tradition. Remember Barry O’Farrell‘s bottle of Grange? Really feels like we’re getting back to normal here.
What’s everyone saying about it?
Dan Andrews, Victorian Premier
“I find her to be a person of integrity, a person that works hard for her state and has been a very important partner with us.” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has just responded to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s resignation. #9News Statement: https://t.co/ih4XC7P6A1 pic.twitter.com/oMldKTjQaD
— 9News Australia (@9NewsAUS) October 1, 2021
Deputy NSW Premier John Barilaro:
“I have served as the Deputy Premier to Gladys Berejiklian for almost five years and in that time she has led this State through some of its darkest days.
“Everyone has the right to defend their name and I wish Gladys all the best for her future.
“Any speculation regarding Liberal Party leadership remains an issue for the Liberal Party.
“The NSW Nationals remain committed to a strong and stable NSW Coalition Government.”
NSW Digital Minister Victor Dominello
“I may have lost a Premier – but I have regained a friend.
“Thanks Gladys for your leadership – service – humility and hardwork – over what has been an extraordinary 5 years.”
NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns
“From day one I have acknowledged the premier’s efforts steering our state through the Covid crisis last year.
“For all our disagreements, I never doubted Gladys’ dedication to New South Wales, or her work in the service of it. I thank her for her service.
“There will be other occasions to carefully examine the detail of these revelations and consider their impact on the future of our state. It is right and important that we do so.
“Ensuring New South Wales gets through the Covid-19 emergency must be the priority of the NSW Liberal-National government right now.
“For the people of New South Wales the Covid crisis is still very real, much of the state is locked down, businesses are shut, schools are closed, families are separated, hospitals are under pressure.
“The focus must be to work on behalf of the people of New South Wales first and foremost, even in the midst of a leadership contest.”
It’s also worth noting here that both the Federal Labor and Greens parties are using this as an opportunity to push for a federal ICAC.
I repeat an Albanese Labor Government will establish a National Anti-Corruption Commission.
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) October 1, 2021
The Greens Bill for a Federal ICAC has passed the Senate. It could become law by the end of the month.
The Prime Minister is blocking it. After today, is there any wonder why?
— Adam Bandt (@AdamBandt) October 1, 2021
Would be very, very interesting to see what a federal corruption watchdog would find, as an FYI.