The former New South Wales premier Mike Baird and the newly sworn-in deputy Liberal leader, Stuart Ayres, have been called to give evidence at next week’s hearings into the conduct of Gladys Berejiklian.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption has just released the witness list for the first week of hearings, which will investigate whether Berejiklian broke the law by failing to report the conduct of her ex-lover, the former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire.
Berejiklian’s bombshell resignation a fortnight ago followed Icac’s announcement that it had broadened its investigation to include an investigation into whether she had been involved in “a breach of public trust” between 2012 and 2018 because of her relationship with Maguire.
In its statement a fortnight ago, Icac also announced it was investigating whether Berejiklian’s conduct “involved the dishonest or partial exercise of any of her official functions”.
The former premier has consistently denied she acted improperly during her relationship with Maguire. During her resignation speech she said: “I state categorically that I have always acted with the highest level of integrity.”
Among the witness names released ahead of next week’s hearings are Berejiklian’s predecessor, Mike Baird, who led the state from 2014 to 2017, and Ayres, the minister for western Sydney and tourism who was sworn in as the deputy leader of the Liberal party last week. Ayres was formerly the sport minister.
The witness list also includes Nigel Blunden, a veteran political strategist who worked for Baird when he was premier, Chris Hanger, a deputy secretary in the Department of Regional NSW, Michael Toohey, a director in the NSW Office of Sport, and Paul Doorn, a former Office of Sport director who now heads up Rugby NSW.
At the centre of the Icac investigation are grants to two organisations: the Australian Clay Target Association in 2016-17, which Maguire had championed, and the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga in 2018.