It’s a measure of quite a few things — the state of New South Wales’ politics, 2020’s relentlessly crowded news schedule and, perhaps most of all, what we will now put up with — that Crikey‘s Clown of the Week Gladys Berejiklian seems to be at no greater risk of resigning now than she was two months ago.
A quick recap. Back in mid-October Berejiklian — for so long the only NSW premier untainted by scandal — revealed at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) that she had for years been in a “close personal relationship” with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire. She risked it all for a bloke called Daryl, whose alleged corruption appeared to be redeemed only by his apparent incompetence.
Her default stance in the scrutiny that followed has been long stretches of insouciance punctuated with bouts of public self-pity. The relationship had “insufficient status” to tell anyone about, she told ICAC, and a week later she was telling The Daily Telegraph‘s gossip columnist of her bitter tears and lost hope from the break up with the man called Daryl she had planned to marry.
Then, she punched a hole in what we thought was the bottom of the barrel — and waiting beneath was, as ever, Kyle Sandilands.
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You would think, in this atmosphere, Berejiklian might tread lightly in other areas. Yet she has since unapologetically failed to isolate after a COVID-19 test and, after it was revealed that hundreds of millions had been siphoned from an abandoned council merger program into Coalition seats, had gone all Nixon about whether or not pork-barrelling is illegal.
And then there was the $5.5 million grant awarded in 2017 to the Australian Clay Target Association’s clubhouse and convention centre. This is a business which happens to be in Wagga Wagga, Maguire’s then-electorate, and one he would later try to profit from.
It’s not all bad: the Tele has been continuously helpful. First, it gave a platform to Berejiklian’s Mills and Boon-ification of her time with Maguire, helpfully skimming over the bit where their texts were less romantic and more Berejiklian congratulating Maguire for all the money he was getting from property developers.
And now, their regular hyperventilation on potential reform on laws around illicit drugs both allows Berejiklian to fall into line and restate her lack of support for decriminalisation, and relegates her latest pity party over Maguire to page 20: