Gladys Berejiklian has demanded respect after being challenged about her alleged involvement in a grant sought by her former boyfriend.
An ABC investigation has alleged the NSW premier intervened in the 2017 reassessment of a $5.5 million grant application after being approached by Daryl Macguire.
The money was being sought for the Australian Clay Target Association’s clubhouse and convention centre in Mr Maguire’s former electorate of Wagga Wagga.
Documents suggest the reassessment came after Mr Maguire, who is currently being investigated by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) for his business dealings, wrote to Ms Berejiklian asking for help in funding the project.
One document references a request from Ms Berejiklian to reassess the project, which had initially failed a cost-benefit analysis.
During a press conference on Monday, ABC reporter Paul Farrell asked the premier, “You requested a reassessment of the $5.5 million that Dary Maguire stood to gain from.”
“Why did you do that and isn’t that a serious conflict of interest given you were in a secret relationship with him at the time?”
Ms Berejiklian responded: “Can you please stand back a bit? Thank you”, and then denied the allegation furiously.
“Firstly the proposition you’re putting is absolutely ridiculous. And second, all proper procedures were followed and that’s all I will say on the matter,” she said.
The reporter then followed up: “But you exchanged letters with Dary Maguire about this project.”
“You wrote to him and thanked him for bringing it to the government’s attention. Wasn’t this a serious conflict of interest, getting involved in any way in that grant process, given you were in a relationship at the time?”
Berejiklian snapped in response: “I refer to my previous answer, and please respect this press conference.”
The ABC’s story was based on a trove of documents released to parliament after a request by Greens MP David Shoebridge.
The pages number in the hundreds and include correspondence from the Office of Sport, Treasury, Department of Regional NSW, and the premier’s office.