Gladys Berejiklian has gone from 'the woman who saved Australia' to the premier who couldn't save her job in less than six months.
The popular New South Wales Liberal leader who was widely hailed for the way she handled the Covid-19 pandemic has ultimately been brought down by a poor choice in men.
Berejiklian had become a truly national figure through her reluctance to completely shut down her state amid coronavirus and will now go down in history as having to suddenly leave that job unfinished.
For much of the past 18 months she had been credited as the premier who had done more than any other to help hold the nation together and keep business running during the pandemic.
Gladys Berejiklian has gone from 'the woman who saved Australia' to the premier who couldn't save her job in barely six months. She is pictured on the cover of The Australian Financial Review Magazine in May
The popular New South Wales Liberal leader who was widely hailed for the way she handled the Covid-19 pandemic was ultimately brought down by a poor choice in men. She is pictured at her resignation press conference on Friday
She was stopped for selfies, received spontaneous applause in public and was hailed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as having come up with the 'gold standard' of Covid measures.
Her decision to resign came after Berejiklian became the subject of an Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation related to her onetime secret boyfriend Daryl Maguire, the former Wagga Wagga MP.
ICAC is investigating whether Berejiklian encouraged or allowed corrupt conduct by Maguire, or breached public trust by not reporting any suspicion of corruption.
Even as the 51-year-old announced her retirement from Parliament on Friday she maintained her usual dignity, saying she was putting the citizens of NSW before a job she loved.
Berejiklian is famous for her work ethic, micromanaging issues and a goody two-shoes image. Kind colleagues described her as methodical, others as a control freak.
She has never married and is now in a relationship with Sydney silk Arthur Moses, who is currently appearing in a defamation trial for war hero Ben Roberts-Smith.
Moses represented Berejiklian at an earlier ICAC inquiry into Maguire's conduct.
A defiant Berejiklian described her relationship with Daryl Maguire as a mistake in October last year, saying she had kept it secret from all her friends and family. Its exposure was a 'personal nightmare', she said. 'I can't tell you what it's done to me personally'
Ms Berejiklian said she had a 'personal attachment' to Mr Maguire and their relationship - which began in 2015 - had been kept under wraps as she was a 'very private person'. Mr Maguire is pictured outside ICAC on July 13, 2018
Unlike some NSW leaders including her predecessor Mike Baird there was no razzle-dazzle about Berejiklian but she was nonetheless supremely confident in her considerable abilities.
'I have a steely, quiet reserve, and I'm always very confident on the path I'm on,' she told the Australian Financial Review in April. 'I don't really worry about what others say.'
Mr Morrison described Berejiklian as a 'dear friend' and said: 'She has displayed heroic qualities, heroic qualities as the premier of NSW.'
Deputy Premier John Barilaro was among colleagues to praise the retiring premier for her service as she led the state through Covid and the devastating bushfires of 2019-2020.
'I have served as the Deputy Premier to Gladys Berejiklian for almost five years and in that time she has led this State through some of its darkest days,' Barilaro said.
'Everyone has the right to defend their name and I wish Gladys all the best for her future.'
ICAC will investigate whether Berejiklian encouraged or allowed corrupt conduct by her former boyfriend Daryl Maguire. She is pictured with Maguire (right) and former premier Barry O'Farrell
The Member for Willoughby entered Parliament in 2003 and had been premier since January 2017 after a term as treasurer in Baird's government.
Berejiklian is the eldest of three daughters born to Armenian immigrant parents in Manly. She spoke only Armenian until she was five years old.
A career politician, she went to North Ryde Public High School, was a member of the Girl Guides, and was elected president of the NSW Young Liberals while still at university.
Berejiklian became premier upon Baird's resignation and was just the third woman in Australia to lead a party to a state election victory.
In October last year Berejiklian was called to give evidence before ICAC where she admitted having been in a 'close personal relationship' with Maguire from 2015 until August 2020.
It seemed an unlikely coupling.
She was one of the most powerful women in Australia, leading the most populous state in the country through the worst pandemic the world had faced in a century.
He was a big-talking divorced former shopkeeper and father-of-two forced to resign from parliament in 2018 after seeking payment from a property deal.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has admitted she shared a private relationship with disgraced former colleague Daryl Maguire while he was in office. Secretly recorded phone conversations the pair had have been played at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (pictured)
A defiant Berejiklian described the relationship as a mistake at the time, saying she had kept it secret from all her friends and family.
Its exposure was a 'personal nightmare', she said. 'I can't tell you what it's done to me personally.'
'It's been devastating, and I've had to bear this on top of everything else,' Berejiklian added, referring to her leadership during the pandemic.
Ms Berejiklian had not spoken about her personal relationship with Maguire before it was revealed at ICAC because she was a 'very private person.'
Following her disclosure of that relationship Berejiklian survived a vote of no-confidence in parliament 47-38 in the lower house and in the upper house by 21-20.
Berejiklian has been widely praised for the way NSW has handled the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly the early outbreaks last year.
She resisted the border closures and hard lockdowns adopted by some other states, including Victoria and Queensland.
Berejiklian's relationship with high-profile barrister Arthur Moses was confirmed in June through an Instagram post shared by her sister
This year she has been under scrutiny for not enacting an early lockdown in Sydney before the Delta variant of Covid spread to other parts of the country.
She faced some criticism when she stopped attending daily press conferences about the time Covid cases, hospitalisations and deaths were expected to peak.
An ICAC public inquiry into Berejiklian and Maguire will run for about 10 days from October 18, overseen by Assistant Commissioner Ruth McColl SC.
Berejiklian has denied any wrongdoing and slammed the watchdog for announcing its investigation into her as the state emerges from a four-month Covid lockdown.
'Given the Covid restrictions, my resignation as premier could not occur at a worse time,' she said.
'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 times in the state's history.'
Arthur Moses, who is currently appearing in a defamation trial for war hero Ben Roberts-Smith, represented Berejiklian at an earlier ICAC inquiry into Daryl Maguire's conduct
Berejiklian used her last press conference as premier to thank the state's citizens.
'I hope you know that you will remain foremost in my thoughts, the courage that you display in your lives every day has inspired me every step of the way, the courage and the support you've shown me has humbled me and made me a better leader and a better person,' she said.
'Serving you has been the greatest privilege of my life. Please know that every day I gave it my all and worked as hard as I could to create a better future for our state and its people.
'I truly believe that New South Wales is a place where every person, irrespective of their background and circumstances has the opportunity to be their best to make a difference.'The frontrunners to replace Gladys: Devout Catholic father of SIX has long been seen as NSW Premier's heir apparent - but he's no shoo-in for the job
By STEPHEN JOHNSON, ECONOMICS REPORTER FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA
Father-of-six Dominic Perrottet was once the hot favourite to replace Gladys Berejiklian as the Premier of New South Wales.
But the Catholic conservative Treasurer faces a tough fight for the Liberal Party leadership from leading moderates with Planning Minister Rob Stokes and Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres, the partner of Foreign Minister Marise Payne, shaping up as contenders with better odds.
At 39, Mr Perrottet would be the youngest leader in the history of Australia's most populated state, making him a year younger than Nick Greiner, Nathan Rees and Kristina Keneally when they rose to power.
He would also be Australia's youngest state premier since Labor's Wayne Goss first led Queensland aged 38 in December 1989.
Mr Perrottet, who became Treasurer in January 2017 when Ms Berejiklian replaced Mike Baird as Premier, is also a devout Catholic and hails from the Liberal Party's Right faction.
At 1pm, Ms Berejiklian announced she would become the third Liberal premier in NSW to be brought down by the anti-corruption body her side of politics created more than three decades ago.
Less than two hours later Mr Perrottet, the NSW Liberal Party's deputy leader, issued a statement paying tribute to his outgoing boss and confirmed he was considering a tilt at the top job.
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Father-of-six Dominic Perrottet is shaping as the favourite to replace Gladys Berejiklian as the Premier of New South Wales (he is pictured with his wife Helen and four of their children)
Mr Perrottet was first elected to Parliament in March 2011, when Barry O'Farrell's Coalition swept to power in a landslide ending Labor's 16 years in office. During that decade, he has held three different electorates, Castle Hill, Hawkesbury and now Epping in Sydney's north-west, switching seats at each election in 2015 and 2019 to the dismay of his Liberal colleagues
Today is an incredibly sad day for NSW.
I would like to offer my gratitude and thanks to Gladys Berejiklian for the leadership and strength she has shown throughout her career and especially during one of the most challenging periods any leader could ever encounter.
Gladys has worked tirelessly before and through the pandemic to protect the people of NSW from COVID-19 and to ensure our great State remains strong and resilient.
The Premier has always placed the wellbeing and welfare of NSW first, showing an unstinting dedication to public service and a great love for her community.
The interests of the people of NSW must always come first, and the priority for the Government is to ensure we continue to keep people safe, and that we re-open the economy and get people back to work, kids back to school, and life back to normal as fast as possible.
Over the coming days I will be talking to my family and colleagues about how I can best serve the people of NSW to continue to achieve these aims.
Finally, I want to again pay tribute to one of the most outstanding leaders our state has ever had. Gladys is both a colleague and a friend and her decision is a loss to public life in NSW.
'Today is an incredibly sad day for NSW,' he said.
'I would like to offer my gratitude and thanks to Gladys Berejiklian for the leadership and strength she has shown throughout her career and especially during one of the most challenging periods any leader could ever encounter.'
He said reopening the economy was a priority as he considered running for the Liberal leadership, which in NSW has traditionally been held by moderates instead of social conservatives.
'Over the coming days I will be talking to my family and colleagues about how I can best serve the people of NSW to continue to achieve these aims,' he said.
Being from the Liberal Party's Right Mr Perrottet, a former lawyer, would most likely have a moderate as his deputy, with Environment Minister Matt Kean and Attorney-General Mark Speakman among the possibilities.
But he faces a leadership contest with Sydney Northern Beaches-based Planning Minister Rob Stokes declaring he will run.
Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres, another moderate holding the marginal seat of