Politics Opinion

Gladys Berejiklian and Daryl Maguire — a latter-day Bonnie and Clyde

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(Image by Dan Jensen)

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption determined that former Premier Gladys Berejiklian had engaged in serious corruption along with her lover, Daryl Maguire. Michael Galvin explores the partnership of NSW's infamous corrupt couple.

THERE SHOULD BE a special place in Australian history for Daryl Maguire, Gladys Berejiklian’s “Hokis”. The nation owes a debt of thanks to the NSW ICAC for preserving so many recordings of “Dodgy Dazza” speaking on the phone to his lover, former Premier Berejiklian.

But first, a couple of thoughts about the disgraced former NSW Premier herself.

Whether or not Berejiklian was as corrupt as Maguire is an open question. But when it comes to his many illegal schemes to make money on the back of his position as a NSW MP, it is the view of this writer that Berejiklian cannot claim total innocence.

Why not? Because she had motive. It was in the former Premier's interests for Maguire to make as much money as he could. It is clear from her own words on the phone to him that she wanted and was looking forward to enjoying overseas holidays and other expensive lifestyle choices with him. Yet Maguire kept telling her how poor he was, how much he was in debt, how much his children were costing him and on and on.

Yes, Berejiklian told Maguire that she was quite capable of covering her own travel and other expenses. From the text messages, it appears Maguire’s ego was fragile and insecure and, therefore, Gladys knew he had to make money in order to have the life together to which they aspired.

So, Berijiklian had motive and she was not stupid. This leads us to believe her when she said she never took his grand schemes too seriously. Why not? Perhaps because she did not consider him capable of being competently corrupt.

Take his first crazy scheme, for example. Cash for visas. For this to work, he had to convince bona fide employers (like the Wagga Wagga RSL and his other business friends, for instance) to sponsor such visas. Then, he had to manage their reactions when they started getting money from Maguire’s associates even when no Chinese employees turned up in Wagga Wagga to work. A sensible way to make money? And using his parliamentary office to wrap up these illegal deals? The mind boggles.

Daryl Maguire illustrates brilliantly that the kind of enfeebled masculinity described 50 years ago by the furtive Ronald Conway in The Great Australian Stupor lives on.

There is zero evidence that he values the assistance of anyone, including the former Premier, who does not even get so much as a thank you when she tells him she has found him $170 million for the Wagga Hospital (up from nothing). Not only does he seem incapable of gratitude, he talks right over the top of her as she tries to get him to absorb this good news. For this bloke, of course, enough is never enough and any bloke has the right to talk over women, period.

Maguire is a lousy listener, his preferred mode being to ignore what has just been said and continue on his own self-pitying script as if the ex-Premier is not even on the line. In Daryl’s provincial mind, Wagga is the centre of the universe and he deserves to be the god (or should that be godfather?) of Wagga world. He really does seem to believe that Wagga is on track to surpass Sydney one day, if only he gets his way.

Maguire has a favourite term for people who outrage him — they spend all their time “sucking dicks”, a metaphor he uses at least three times in the ICAC tapes now available. He does appear gender-neutral on this point. Mainly men, but could be women. Doesn’t seem to matter in Dazza-land. If you don’t give him what he wants, you are a wanker.

It is entirely possible that Daryl will be spending some of his golden years as a guest in the NSW prison system. Let us not forget that Gladys stayed in the relationship with him for two more years, after he imploded in 2018 on the ICAC witness stand. It is possible that when she found out she was likely to be an ICAC target herself that Gladys dropped him like a hot potato.

And not only that, she went into PR overdrive, spinning the fairy tale that she was a poor damsel in love who falls for the wrong guy. (And who doesn’t at least once in their life? Can you hear the violins?) A narrative echoed by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton.

Berejiklian is not stupid. She knows her political career is likely to end in the most compromising way possible. And she takes all the steps needed to save herself, including, it seems, destroying whatever reputation the bewildered Maguire has left.

Gladys could have stayed with her former lover. And it would have made no difference since had already chosen to resign. But she went out of her way to spin the “poor woman taken in by a creep” fairy tale and dumped him to secure the best possible plea deal for herself.

And Berejeklian appears to have succeeded magnificently. Compare her fate now with his: she is now a senior executive with a major corporation and most on her side of politics refuse to accept that she was corrupt at all. Even the NSW Labor Premier won't put the “C” word in the same sentence as the saintly Berijiklian.

As a case study of how to ruthlessly save yourself at the expense of your lover, it is a tour de force. Yes, Dodgy Dazza will likely have plenty of time to think about the perils of dating a politician smarter than himself in the not-too-distant future. And Berijiklian still has plenty of admirers, and it's reasonable to assume the money for the luxuries that Maguire was so desperate to amass.

They richly deserve each other. Few people could be so mutually and egregiously lacking in self-knowledge as this latter-day Bonnie and Clyde.

Michael Galvin is an adjunct fellow at Victoria University and a former media and communications academic at the University of South Australia.

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