Australia has an unlikely new heartthrob in the form of the formidable lawyer who relentlessly interrogates Gladys Berejiklian.
Scott Robertson’s deadpan expression and robotic way of asking questions sent hearts racing across the country as he mercilessly shook the embattled former NSW Prime Minister at Friday’s hearing of the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Speaking monotonously, Mr. Robertson remained calm and precise as he relentlessly probed Ms Berejiklian about her relationship with disgraced Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire.
But viewers seemed unconcerned about the ex-Prime Minister’s alleged indiscretions when they took to Twitter to swoon over Roberston’s unwavering attitude instead.
Australia’s latest heartthrob: Scott Robertson (pictured) set heartbeats across the country with his relentless whims of Gladys Berejiklian at Friday’s ICAC hearing
“I think I’m in love with Scott Robertson,” one woman wrote.
“I’ve developed a HUGE crush on Mr. Robertson,” said a second, while a third added, “I’m impressed…so wonderful, so well prepared, so professional, so about everything!”
Others plunged into the intellect of the University of Adelaide graduate, with one woman declaring, “I think I have a brain teaser.”
Even television host Michael Rowland was stunned by his sharp questions.
He tweeted: “I’m making a mental note of never putting myself in a situation where I have to be interrogated by Scott Robertson. He’s… pretty good at his job.’
The ICAC hearings captivated viewers, but many seemed unconcerned about the ex-Prime Minister’s alleged indiscretions when they took to Twitter to swoon over Robertson instead
Dozens said they have a ‘huge crush’ on the University of Adelaide graduate
Tireless in his questions, at one point Mr. Robertson asked Ms. Berejiklian the same question ten times in a row when she was unable to answer clearly whether she considered Mr. Maguire part of her family.
“You regarded Mr. Maguire as part of your family, correct?”
When Ms. Berejiklian said she didn’t feel like she should “make the relationship public,” he curtly replied, “We’ll let the lawyers argue about the law,” and asked the same question over and over.
‘Then what is the answer to my question? Did you or did you not consider Mr. Maguire part of your family?’ he said.
Mr Robertson indulged in a rare burst of verbal abuse when Ms Berejiklian denied he had treated Mr Maguire differently from other colleagues.
Former NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian arrives at the corruption hearing on Friday
‘Are you seriously say that Mr Maguire has approached you about projects in exactly the same way as all your other colleagues,’ he said.
But he continued to quickly question the Prime Minister in his signature tone.
It’s a technique the attorney has honed for more than 12 years since he was admitted to the NSW Bar in 2009.
According to his online profile, he holds degrees in economics, international studies and law from the University of Adelaide and also holds a master’s degree in law from Oxford University which he completed in 2007.
He specializes in commercial, construction and public law, but likes to challenge him by “appearing in jurisdictions where he is not a regular and in cases raising difficult or new questions of law or fairness.”
ICAC is investigating whether Ms. Berejiklian
1. Between 2012 and 2018, she was involved in conduct that could “allow or encourage corrupt behavior” by former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire, with whom she had a close personal relationship between 2015 and 2018
2. Has exercised her official functions unfairly or partially by refusing to perform her duty to report reasonable suspicions about Mr. Maguire to ICAC
3. Has held one of her official positions, in part in connection with two multimillion dollar grants in Mr Maguire’s electorate, to the Australian Clay Target Association Inc and the Riverina Conservatorium of Music
Mr Robertson is counsel assisting the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption as it: is investigating whether Ms Berejiklian encouraged or allowed corrupt behavior by her secretive ex-boyfriend and former Wagga Wagga MP, Mr Maguire, between 2012 and 2018.
It also examines its role in multi-million dollar government grants to a gun club and conservatory of music in its electorate.
Ms Berejiklian insists she has done nothing wrong and has “always acted with integrity.”
On Friday, Ms Berejiklian’s successor, Dominic Perrottet, was involved in the corruption investigation.
During an overheard telephone conversation with a defiant Ms Berejiklian on Friday, Ms Berejiklian spoke about funding projects at Mr Maguire’s headquarters of Wagga Wagga and said of Mr Perrottet, “He does exactly what I ask him to do.”
During the phone call, Mr Maguire said he “smated” then-treasurer Perrottet and said he would have a “f**king riot on your hands” if his electorate failed to get funding for projects including Wagga Wagga Base Hospital and Tumut hospital.
In the telephone conversation, Mr. Maguire recalled that Mr. Perrottet had told him that there was no money in the budget for those projects, but there was money for a planned fight against graffiti.
Mrs. Berejiklian replied, ‘I will fix it’.
She called back later and said, “I’ve already got Wagga Hospital for you. I just spoke to Dom (Perrottet)… He just does what I ask.’
A stressed-out-looking Gladys Berejiklian arrived at ICAC Friday morning and broke her silence outside the court
She added: “We are giving Wagga more money than ever before,” she said. “I’ve just got the one hundred and seventy mill for you … you can’t tell me you’re hard on it.”
Ms Berejiklian said she got Mr Maguire that money “in five minutes” but that he had to talk to Health Minister Brad Hazzard about Tumut Hospital because she wouldn’t arrange everything for him.
Maguire pushed for between $500,000 and $1 million for that hospital.
Mr Robertson asked Ms Berejiklian about a September 2017 deal “that would give (Mr Maguire) enough money to pay off his $1.5 million debt”.
“Did you suspect that Mr. Maguire was or may have been guilty of corrupt conduct?” he asked.
“I didn’t,” Mrs. Berejiklian replied.
Daryl Maguire (pictured, left) testified during a corruption investigation into former NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian (right)
“How did you think a MP was able to earn a commission of about $1.5 million on a land deal?” he asked.
“I didn’t pay too much attention to that, because he always talked big and I didn’t pay too much attention to that, but I trusted him as a colleague and as a good personal friend and I never thought he would do anything inappropriate, she replied.
“Why did you think Mr. Maguire could make $1.5 million,” Mr. Robertson asked.
“I can’t remember the context of that phone call, but my general answer is that I never suspected he was doing anything inappropriate,” she replied, adding that she always assumed that Mr Maguire was “very aware.” of its disclosure requirements’.
The tone of Friday’s hearing was set at the very beginning when Mr Robertson began with a killer question.
“If you had time again, would you disclose your close personal relationship with Mr. Maguire?” asked Mr. Robertson.
Ms. Berejiklian replied that she didn’t feel it was a bond she could share with her parents, Arsha and Krikor, or her sisters.
“I didn’t feel there was enough meaning to do that in terms of meaning.”
Then Mr Robertson was gone – slowly languishing over Mrs Berejiklian’s answers, and with it the Prime Minister’s reputation.
Mr Robertson’s whims are expected to continue Monday.