It’s the stuff of chick lit and romantic comedies. Well-brought-up girl falls for very unsuitable boy who ends up destroying her life. From Anna Karenina and Count Vronsky, Madame Bovary and Rodolphe, to Gladys Berejiklian and Daryl Maguire, the Good Girl Gone Bad is a timeless theme.
The best example of this is, of course, Lady Diana. While married to Prince Charles she hooked up with James Hewitt, an absolute bounder who revealed all about their five-year affair and tried to sell her personal letters after she died. After Hewitt, she threw herself into the arms of Dodi Al-Fayed, a notorious cocaine-snorting playboy who also happened to be the nephew of Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.
So what is Gladys — former school captain of North Ryde High and president of the Young Liberals — doing with Maguire, an ersatz Obeid from Wagga Wagga?
Because she thought she could change him.
There’s so much wrong with this. Firstly, while Gladys told him he was “numero uno”, she informed the world that it wasn’t a relationship of “sufficient status” to be worth mentioning. At university, we called this a BONPA: Bed Only No Public Appearances. No wonder she shut down the nightclubs.
Secondly, despite two decades of trying, he seems to be the world’s worst grifter. Through his company G8wayinternational (aka Open For Business) Maguire tried and failed to make money from wine, steel, cotton and milk powder, a pilot school, a trade showroom in China and a coal mine. Oh, and an automatic car wash. What is this, Breaking Bad: The Riverina Years? The man makes Arthur Daley look like Bill Gates.
Once, Maguire used his office to broker an $5.8 million property deal, on which he earned the princely sum of $5000. When he told Gladys, she replied “congrats!!! Great news!!! Woohoo”. In the entire history of dodgy NSW politics, no-one has ever earned as little as five large on a deal. $5000 is what the NSW right drops on yum cha. Dazza, m8, that’s the definition of “small beer”.
Thirdly, this relationship brings shame on the local Armenian community, which reveres the Berejiklians. Devout, clever and said to be good in business, the local descendants of Alexander the Great are not happy about their favourite daughter seeing a loser who doesn’t even appear to be Catholic. Calling Gladys “hawkiss”, the Armenian translation of “my beloved”, is bad karma. Persians, as the Turks have discovered to their great cost, have very long memories.
Fourthly, it’s very hard to behave so badly that you make NSW racing and gaming ministers look good. In NSW, these ministers spend so much time with casino owners, NRL players and colourful racing identities that they start to wear slip-on shoes. Post-retirement, many of them head off to well-paid jobs with the pokies lobby. Yet ICAC heard this week that after the racing and gaming ministers refused to meet two publicans with criminal histories, Maguire took them up to meet the premier. Unprecedented.
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The worst part of this whole debacle, however, is that it has given a free kick to Robert Borsak, the NSW head of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party. Borsak is a big-game hunter who is routinely photographed beside the large, dead pachyderms he bravely slaughters from a distance of 20 feet. On Wednesday, he and Mark Latham insisted that Gladys should step aside pending the outcome of the ICAC inquiry.
“We’re not prepared to support the government in their legislative agenda while she leads their party and in fact is the premier of NSW,” Borsak told ABC TV.
So it’s come to this. Daryl and Gladys’ dodgy relationship has enabled Robert Borsak, a man who boasts of shooting and eating an elephant — “it tastes like venison” — to take the moral high ground. There are no words.