Sex, surprise, audiotape
The visa fraud lining Daryl Maguire 's pockets has a real effect on the world we live in. It's why your kids can't handle buying a home.
The week's first — or, dare we call it, number uno — shock was clearly that Gladys had sex.
Gladys, including the non-bonkish NSW Premier Berejiklian. The kid of immigrant parents who spoke no English before the age of five; who rose to become "female dux" of her public high school and then "head girl" of NSW; whose modesty is encapsulated by her occasional attendance at the Armenian Apostolic Church of Holy Resurrection; maybe even by the two Cheds biscuits she brings out for breakfast every day from her home.
It was about discovering your parents still have sex, but look, we're all grown-ups, aren't we? But then no, wait, who was your boyfriend?
Ex Wagga member — daggy, and now dodgy, Daryl Maguire.
That set off another round of −denial, like, Well, we can agree you're in a relationship, Mum, but there's no chance wing-wang would ever be our −stepdad.
And you can understand because Gladys is wet, bright and competent. She's modest and hardworking, and he's a Daryl, okay.
They met about 15 years ago, when Maguire was NSW parliament member. He left in 2018 under a graft cloud, and has recently been out of work, living under a debt mountain in Wagga, seeking to get divorced, all the while keeping out the expectation of one day getting a clip from someone else's property contract.
For comparison, she was — and still is — NSW Premier at the time of publication. A much-admired premier. Can you even imagine the stunned-mullet expressions on the ICAC operatives' face when they discovered a relationship between them through phone taps? Wait, that's ... Gladys? Here's a stellar touch tracing.
She claims she kept the friendship secret and it never failed too much. She had dreams, but legs never developed.
When this controversy erupted, particularly women seemed eager to slack the Premier. Many cracks were made about the lack of decent friends, with one wag saying that locating a single guy in Sydney who isn't under ICAC surveillance is really very difficult.
It just eventually dawned on Gladys' girl squad — it's around the same size as NSW's female population — that this might potentially affect her.
Because how easily did she quarantine a lover's dodgy deals?
It's the important question — and that in turn takes us to what we might call Gladys Has Sex Season Two for purposes of clarification.
Interest here isn't prurient anymore. It's politics.
Since it doesn't matter how much esteem the Premier has across the country and the spectrum, it's not up to voters whether or not she remains in her role. She's Premier since her peers made her Premier. It's a role gifted to her by her teammates, who want it for themselves.
First blood sign? They're circled.
You can imagine how it feels like: a lot of pink and sweating people messaging each other through the night, weighing promises of a different portfolio in a new ministry in return for voting in a leadership leak. That's mortifying.
There's a trip switch: if she's famous, the group obviously won't eject a chief, so what's the point in booting anyone out for opposition?
And what was really obvious this week is the amount of support for Premier Berejiklian 's position. That's partly because she's a terrific Premier, particularly in her handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
But how much stink can a person overlook before inspecting the nappy?
To put it another way, Gladys just didn't want to hear about her lover?
For some time, she suspected Daryl was at least dodgy. She fired him in 2018 when graft was under scrutiny. He left politics, and she saw him.
During this week's testimony, he agreed that he had tried for years to bring himself in "the right financial condition" to resign from parliament.
He was $1.5 m in debt when he was an MP. He wanted that paid off, and he wanted a board role, or some sort of consultant, before he left.
As for what he did to advance his own position — well, his testimony this week is a show of purulence seldom seen, except in NSW.
Maguire decided to continue to monetise his public office and benefit from his role as MP. He admitted becoming interested with a private company called G8way (pronounced Gateway, geddit?), seeking to pull together Chinese businessmen and Australian manufacturers.
He decided that he hoped to get a clip from Fijians-run tin, copper, milk powder, even an automatic car wash. It appears he's been hopeless.
In the utmost paradox, he couldn't make money from a proposed goldmine.
Clearly, not all of this pitiable activity was unethical or immoral. When Maguire was an ordinary backbencher — and we use the descriptor deliberately — he was permitted to have "outside work."
That said, he tried to exploit his friendship with his high-flying girlfriend as he tried to make money.
Using "G8way Daryl" on some emails and his NSW Parliament House address on others, he encouraged developers to contact the Premier and see whether she could send "a tickle from top" and their offers.
Write up the idea, he said, and "I'll get it."
He 'd say to shower her with gratitude, and "rub the ego."
By sending out her private email address, he violated her anonymity and would threaten people "please blame me" if she complained about these intrusions.
He brought a developer down to Gladys' office at Parliament House in an especially unedifying experience, for what we can only guess was a mortifying meeting-and-greet.
Berejiklian isn't just a good-two-shoes. She's hardly intoxicated. During a sitting week, the developer involved emerged with a blueprint of his proposed creation under his belt.
Maguire invited him to red wine and began boozing and then, "after a few glasses of red," the developer said: "Should we go and see Gladys? Will we see Gladys? Why? Why?
Apparently because "he loves her and decided to say hi ... at the point he just kept on (seeing her)."
So Maguire said to his developer mate, "Well, we should go and see"—meaning, go and see if she's there.
But then, the creator set down his wine bottle.
Why? Why? "I wouldn't let a bottle of red walk through parliament," he said.
"I'd frown on that." He maintains that Gladys made no promises to anybody at that meeting.
"Speaking niceties," he said.
"The conversation was really short, I 'm sure it's been less than two minutes ... I don't think a shot was taken ... and that's it, we're off." Well, he 's gone for gold.
Yet the degree of anoesis was amazing.
He appeared not to understand how such deals or proposed deals would effect her. Again, maybe he didn't notice. So until August 2020, when the Premier — now in the middle of the pandemic — was called to testify before an ICAC confidential hearing, where she heard that several of her intimate communications with her boyfriend had been registered.
Yeah, and all their nice nicknames for each other — she named him Hawkiss, which an Armenian speaker tells us about our acquaintance is what your great aunt calls you when she pinches your cheeks; he named her Glads — would soon become famous.
She let him loose instantly.
In Monday 's testimony, Berejiklian said the relationship ended August.
When asked if they were still together, Maguire replied: "I wouldn't think after this events."
But, of course, proving he's her lover is one thing.
What is of public concern is if he was just a kelson, the bit between the businessman and the Premier, seeking to push his government in a way that would favor him financially.
In his testimony, Maguire said he'd only talk to the Premier about "common issues I've had with life," including his $1.5 m debt.
He maintained that he "drew a line" and would either have a "general debate" or offer a "general summary" without dealing with something that could cause her trouble.
This doesn't place her in the open. Whatever the result of the ICAC hearing, others claim the Premier infringed the Ministry Code of Ethics (yes, that was quite the "October surprise," wasn't it, the fact that NSW has one?).
Under the code, ministers must disclose their family members' financial interests and "any person with whom the minister has intimate personal connection." Does that mean, whoever has sex with someone? No, it means close personal relationships, where there's shared dealing with stuff like housing, income, savings, etc.
NSW Premier's own home. She's got her job. She holds savings accounts.
They talked about maybe one day going public with their romance, but he's already married (separated), and she's funny about that sort of stuff.
She was also Premier, sacked for graft.
Awks, as children say.
At Parliament House, NSW opposition leader Jodi McKay — representing the far-from-virginal-when-it-comes-to-scandal NSW Labor Party — screamed unseemly through the room, describing Berejiklian as a "sounding board" for graft.
In a girls school hair-pulling scene, Gladys invited her to "say outside."
She proceeds to insist that she was not tainted by Glads-handling efforts by her boyfriend. She wants to keep leading the administration, and because ICAC has been unable to lay a glove on her, well, why not?
She's done a terrific job.
Her association with this Daryl was terrible for her, so it's worth looking at how Maguire 's political style influences us all.
Only one example: this week's ICAC inquiry uncovered a visa scam involving Maguire.
It seems a Chinese-Australian went to him, intending to set up a plan to charge Chinese people over $40,000 for Australian visas.
They'd then set up sham jobs, so it'd seem for the entire world like the Chinese come out of work in Wagga. But these Chinese visa holders didn't come to Australia to work in regions. Nobody ever even showed up for work. In his Wagga electorate, there's no apparent gain to anybody, and that's because there were no jobs that were badly needed.
The individuals involved in this scam did not diversify the community, populate zones outside capital cities, or do something they were meant to do in the national interest. It was cash-for-visa.
The scam put thousands of dollars into Maguire 's account, but it has had a real effect on the world we're living in.
For eg, you can draw a line from the volume-extruded visas to Sydney's sky-high property prices.
It's why your kids can't afford to buy a house in a capital. That's why so many young Australians' university-experience was so dismal. It's why you like you can't get ahead.
At one point, Australians could sniff at third-world countries with some scorn, where business is all about paying bribery and kickbacks — but it doesn't seem that different.
It can make the majority of us sound like chumps, go to work and collect salaries and pay our taxes, while some consider a criminal career, which these days means going into politics.
On a human basis, one can feel Gladys compassion. A sad hunter's spirit. So where's her head on earth?