6 September 2018
Two days out from the Wagga Wagga by-election Premier Gladys Berejiklian has tried to avoid talking about the reason why the city’s electors are going to the polls on Saturday.
During questions in the annual Budget Estimates in the NSW Parliament, the Premier repeatedly refused to address the key reason behind the election – the actions of the now disgraced former member Daryl Maguire caught on tape by the ICAC.
When pressed on what steps she has undertaken to examine her own minister’s dealings with him, the Premier sought to shut the lines of questioning down.
Ms Berejiklian hid behind an investigation by the corruption watchdog which she knows does not cover Mr Maguire’s other activities, and she also said Maguire-related questions were not the remit of Budget Estimates.
Electoral legislation, including elections, and the ICAC falls squarely in the Premier’s area of responsibility.
The Premier said she acted decisively and swiftly, but it took eight days for her to finally sack Mr Maguire and only after the NSW Labor Opposition threatened to move to expel him in the Parliament.
Throughout the hearing the Premier was aided in her evasion by the constant interference by Liberal members of the Legislative Council who were in the hearing.
Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader in the Legislative Council Adam Searle:
“Wagga voters know that the reason they are going to the polls six months before the next State Election is because their member Daryl Maguire left in disgrace, but it appears that Premier just wants to pretend that didn’t happen.
“The Premier had a perfect opportunity to address the issue and apologise to the electors of Wagga for putting them through an unnecessary election because their member was forced to resign.
“She a failed to address the fact her own Deputy Premier was urging Wagga Wagga to vote the Liberals out so a National could run there next year – a direct challenge to her authority and the unity of her government.
“Ms Berejiklian also failed to address Mr Barilaro has let local National party members campaign against the Berejiklian Government candidate in Wagga without consequences. This government is in total disarray.”