Leader of Australia’s most populous state resigns as corruption watchdog launches investigation

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New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks during a press conference on October 1, 2021 in Sydney, Australia.

Bianca De Marchi | Getty Images

The leader of New South Wales — Australia’s most populous state — announced her resignation Friday after the state’s corruption watchdog said it was investigating her.

“It pains me to announce that I have no option but to resign from the office of premier,” Gladys Berejiklian said a briefing where she did not take questions from reporters.

She said her resignation will take effect as soon as the state’s Liberal party can elect a new leader.

“In order to allow the new leader and government a fresh start, I will also resign from the New South Wales parliament once I have consulted the electoral commission on appropriate timing for a by-election,” Berejiklian added.

The investigation heightens scrutiny on Berejiklian, who had faced mounting criticism over her government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis in New South Wales.

What happened?

A life sized cardboard cutout of the Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian sits on the floor beside some friends having a celebratory picnic in the suburb of Kirribilli on September 13, 2021 in Sydney, Australia.

James D. Morgan | Getty Images

The ICAC is also looking into whether Maguire, who resigned from parliament in 2018, breached public trust by using his public office to improperly gain a benefit for himself and his associates.

Berejiklian described the issues under investigation as “historic matters,” and said the ICAC announcement left her with no choice but to resign since the state needs certainty in challenging times like the pandemic.

“I state categorically, I have always acted with the highest level of integrity,” she said.

“My resignation as premier could not occur at a worse time but the timing is completely outside of my control as the ICAC has chosen to take this action during the most challenging weeks of the most challenging time in the state’s history,” she said.

“Resigning at this time is against every instinct in my being and something which I do not want to do,” she added.

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