NSW Labor says the Premier has used a last-minute visit to Menindee in far Western NSW to escape questions about Operation Keppel – the inquiry into the disgraced former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire.
Gladys Berejiklian was missing in action at the height of the water crisis and fish kills in 2018 and 2019. Yet she found the time to travel to Menindee, in Far Western NSW, on the same day submissions by Counsel Assisting at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) were to be made public.
Ms Berejiklian failed to disclose her relationship with Daryl Maguire, as required under the Ministerial Code of Conduct. The submissions, which could indicate the prospect of possible adverse findings against the Premier, have been delayed.
The Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs and Western NSW, Mick Veitch, condemned the Premier’s trip as a shallow stunt: “The Premier refused to visit Menindee when it really mattered. Now she’s using the fish kill catastrophe to distract from the ICAC investigation. This is nothing but an insult to the people of Far Western NSW.”
The Shadow Minister for Water, Clayton Barr, added: “The Premier was nowhere to be seen at the height of the water crisis that her Government made worse by prioritising water allocations for upstream users. Today’s visit shows Gladys Berejiklian could have been there when she was needed most, but chose not to be.”
In the interest of transparency, Labor has requested Ms Berejiklian ask the ICAC to lift the suppression order on submissions relating to her involvement in Operation Keppel. This move is possible under Section 112 of the ICAC Act.