Big problem with Gladys’ victim defence
Gladys Berejiklian is a tough, smart operator.
She is a woman to be admired for her guts, her worth ethic and her strength.
This week, we also found out she is not the Joan of Arc-style nun we all believed, which for some reason has prompted one of the most humiliating public defences since Shane Warne blamed his mum for those diet pills.
A chorus of middle-aged blokes who serve under her command in the NSW Cabinet have emerged to declare a woman who eats two Arnott's Cheds biscuits for breakfast has "a heart of gold" and has been let down by a cad.
Even former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull burst into song to insist that she should "certainly not" resign because she "fell in love with the wrong guy."
But her 'bad boyfriend' survival strategy, which rests on casting a 50-year-old woman as a lovesick teenager in an episode of DeGrassi Junior High, is sickening.
It's so demeaning and stupid, it just might work. But at what price for women in workplaces across Australia?
Sure, the love drugs dopamine and oxytocin are nice but women who date men are not brain damaged.
First of all, the idea that the NSW Premier didn't know at least some of what this bloke was up to is infantilising.
She says she didn't know about an alleged visa scam he was involved in. OK, but let's restrict ourselves to the deals she did know about.
Spoiler alert - he tells her on the phone taps. There's no suggestion of wrongdoing on her part but my goodness it doesn't sound good on the calls.
For example, in a 2014 text message exchange, when Ms Berejiklian was Transport Minister, Mr Maguire tells her one of his "contacts sold a motel" for $5.8 million "so I should make 5k". "Congrats!!! Great News!! Woo hoo," Ms Berejiklian replied, before asking what his commission was.
"Sharing with Chinese business partner so commission is 20k usually it's 50% of that but I will only ask for 25% cause uts (sic) such a small sale," Mr Maguire replies.
According to the NSW Premier, that's all completely legal in NSW … a sitting MP taking a commission for a property deal? Totally fine, as long as he declares it to Parliament.
Well, it shouldn't be. What sort of madness is NSW politics that the Premier, her entire frontbench and MPs don't know this is wrong?
Three years later, during another conversation, when she's Premier, her BF brags about his relationship with China: "Anyway I've met Xi Jinping, she hasn't,'' Mr Maguire says.
He's complaining that a NSW trade mission to China needs to raise his concerns over the dairy industry and jobs.
"They're shaking hands, they're sucking people's d**ks,'' he tells her. "They can get f**ked. They've got to get off their fat arses and make something happen."
Very nice. But in a separate call, Mr Maguire told Ms Berejiklian that the $330 million sale of a development site owned by the Waterhouse family next to the Western Sydney Airport site was close to being completed and he was looking forward to a big payday.
They're also chatting about his taxes.
"Given the size of it it will take you a week to count it all,'' she remarks on his tax refund.
"That's true and the good news is William tells me we've done our deal so hopefully that's about half of all that gone now,'' he replies.
"That's good. I don't need to know about that bit,'' she says.
"No you don't,'' he replies.
Ms Berejiklian insists she was not telling him to keep her in the dark but was "bored" or "wasn't interested".
"I always assumed, rightly or wrongly, that he was making full disclosures when he needed to," she told ICAC on Monday.
Reader, he didn't.
But the idea that she didn't need to declare this relationship to the NSW Cabinet when it discussed Badgerys Creek Airport is unbelievable.
According to the NSW Premier, that's because she was not in an "intimate" relationship, which believe it or not according to the ICAC act does not involve bonking but having your finances enmeshed.
Watching the NSW Premier in the witness box on Monday two things emerge.
First, she has a genuine, deep belief that she is a person of deep integrity. She believes that even if people tried to influence her that she didn't bend.
Therefore, she's pure as the driven snow. Still fit to wear the uniform of female political leaders across Australia: the White Lady funeral jacket.
But the tapes tell a story that don't entirely fit with that lilywhite image.
As human beings, we can all mourn the fact that brave, beautiful Gladys was dating a muppet.
God knows, most single women aged over 40 usually are.
But can we not reduce her mental age to 12?
She did not have a lobotomy simply because she fell into the loving arms of a bald man who loves antiques and Honda minitrucks.
The idea that she didn't really hear what is caught on the ICAC phone tapes because she was truly, madly, deeply, in love with a father of two from Wagga Wagga is beguiling.
It's also complete BS. So, we should treat her like an adult and not a lovesick child.
We owe that, at the very least, to all the women and girls who believed in Gladys Berejiklian.
Originally published as Big problem with Gladys' victim defence