The appointment of former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro to a taxpayer-funded job in New York City will be scrutinised by a parliamentary inquiry, amid claims of “jobs for mates”.
Days after it was announced Mr Barilaro had landed the role as the state’s senior trade and investment commissioner to the Americas, Labor says there will be an upper house inquiry.
“We’re going to refer to the public accountability committee, and to basically do a dual inquiry into the circumstances and process of his appointment,” Labor’s leader in the upper house, Penny Sharpe, told AAP on Monday.
“One of our biggest concerns is that it didn’t go to cabinet.”
The government announced Mr Barilaro’s new job on Friday, saying he was appointed after a “highly competitive and rigorous global talent search” managed by specialised recruitment firm NGS Global.
Mr Barilaro resigned from parliament in October last year, days after the shock resignation of then premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Ms Sharpe says it “doesn’t pass the pub test” because by convention such appointments are referred to cabinet and it’s peculiar that this one wasn’t.
“We’re very concerned that it’s simply jobs for mates,” she said.
Six commissioner roles in cities around the world were created by Mr Barilaro when he was NSW’s trade minister.
Treasurer Matt Kean declined to comment when asked about the appointment.
“What I will say is John Barilaro was a trade minister and is qualified to be a trade commissioner,” he said on Monday.
“I’ve been informed that this has gone through the proper process, and that’s how decisions should be made.”
Premier Dominic Perrottet defended the appointment, saying it occurred through an independent process.
“I believe he’ll make a very strong trade commissioner,” Mr Perrottet said on Saturday.
“He was by far the most outstanding candidate and recommended by that panel to the government, and I’m sure he will do a brilliant job.”
Mr Barilaro said he aimed to support business in his new role, including companies in fields such as fintech, cyber security, space, health and food and beverages.