News State NSW News Govt’s review of Barilaro job ‘a farce’

Govt’s review of Barilaro job ‘a farce’

Barilaro Perrottet
Premier Dominic Perrottet insists John Barilaro's appointment went through an "independent process". Photo: AAP
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A NSW government probe into former deputy premier John Barilaro’s appointment to a plum posting in New York City is farcical, the state opposition says.

Labor leader Chris Minns said Premier Dominic Perrottet’s commitment to an internal review was not good enough.

“This is just, I think, a farce at this point,” Mr Minns said on Thursday.

The government announced last week Mr Barilaro had been appointed the state’s senior trade and investment commissioner to the Americas, a role the former NSW Nationals leader created.

“We’re expected to believe in global search took place, not just the eight million people that live in this state, but everyone around the entire world, to represent the economic and trade interests of people in NSW,” Mr Minns said.

“And the bloke they picked was the guy they sat next to for the past 12 years?

“It just happened to be the leader of the National Party?

“This is a farce.”

Earlier, Mr Perrottet said Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter would conduct a review of the process that led to Mr Barilaro’s appointment.

“He will provide that report to me,” Mr Perrottet said.

“I will review it and I will make it public.”

A parliamentary inquiry will also scrutinise the process. It is due to begin within weeks.

On Wednesday, Mr Perrottet and Investment Minister Stuart Ayres insisted the appointment had occurred through an “independent process”.

Both singled out Amy Brown, the former secretary of the premier’s department and now the CEO of Investment NSW, as the ultimate decision maker.

Ms Brown reported to Mr Barilaro when he was the minister responsible for the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade.

Mr Perrottet said the initial recruitment phase, which began in March last year, was derailed when Ms Brown said no candidate had been found.

A second process then began, leading to Ms Brown choosing Mr Barilaro for the role, Mr Perrottet said.

Mr Ayres said during Question Time on Wednesday that the role was publicly advertised and Mr Barilaro applied as a private citizen.

“His application was not solicited by me as the minister or by Investment NSW,” Mr Ayres said.

He told Mr Perrottet and Deputy Premier Paul Toole of the secretary’s recommendation to hire Mr Barilaro on April 30.

Mr Ayres said he did not intervene in Mr Barilaro’s appointment because it occurred after an “independent, open, merit-based recruitment process” that recommended a “qualified, suitable candidate”.

“I reject in the strongest possible terms that the appointment of Mr Barilaro, as quoted in some media outlets, was a ‘captain’s pick’ or a unilateral decision by me or any other minister.”

He said the decision was not required to go to cabinet.

Labor upper house leader Penny Sharpe said Mr Perrottet and Mr Ayres recommended the approval and bypassed the cabinet to avoid feedback from their cabinet colleagues.

A motion passed the upper house on Wednesday temporarily blocking Mr Barilaro from taking the role until a parliamentary inquiry scrutinises the process.

Documents reveal four people were considered for the role during the recruitment process, and two were shortlisted.

One applicant, Jenny West, was told in August by then-premier Gladys Berejiklian she had the job, The Guardian reported.

She was later told the offer had been rescinded and was paid a substantial settlement, it said.

Mr Barilaro resigned from parliament the following month.

Mr Perrottet disputed claims Ms West was offered the role, but said he would “get that clarified”.

He also denied Mr Barilaro’s appointment was “a captain’s pick”.

“These were public service decisions through an independent process.”