The NSW premier says he didn’t know about a note signed by his predecessor Gladys Berejiklian confirming a public servant had been hired for a plum New York City trade role 10 months before John Barilaro landed the position.
Dominic Perrottet says he was not aware former deputy secretary at Investment NSW Jenny West had been appointed the state’s senior trade and investment commissioner to the Americas in August last year.
The offer to Ms West was rescinded the following month, and after a second job search former deputy premier John Barilaro was appointed in June this year.
Mr Barilaro withdrew from $500,000-a-year position two weeks after his appointment amid public scrutiny. He insists proper processes were followed.
The premier says he was told no successful applicant had been found for the role, and he was not aware of the document signed by Ms Berejiklian.
“I’m not aware of receiving that brief,” Mr Perrottet told reporters on Friday.
The document, signed by then premier on August 12 and attached to a text message sent to Ms West, says “a successful candidate for Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner (STIC) Americas has been appointed”.
“The advice I’ve received from the department is that no suitable candidate was found in the first selection process,” the premier said.
Mr Perrottet said he was awaiting findings of an independent review of the employment process, which was launched last month.
“That review I expect to get back in the next three weeks and I’ll make that public,” he said.
“Any recommendations we receive from that we will implement, as I’ve said.”
An upper house inquiry is also examining Mr Barilaro’s appointment, and is due to hear from two of the former National Party leader’s staffers on Monday.
Also due to give evidence is Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment general counsel Chris Carr.
Ms West told the inquiry on Monday that Investment NSW chief executive Amy Brown told her the role was to become a “present for someone” after her offer was rescinded.
Ms West was later made redundant from her role as the deputy secretary of Investment NSW.
Ms West’s testimony conflicted with statements by Ms Brown, who told the inquiry she withdrew the offer after the relationship between Ms West and the government became “irreconcilable”.
Labor leader Chris Minns said revelations about Mr Barilaro’s appointment had become a “huge scandal” for the government.
“Obviously, this is a huge scandal, and it’ll be interesting to see what the NSW government’s response is,” Mr Minns said Thursday.
“I still haven’t heard any convincing reason why the eminently qualified Jenny West was sacked from her position and John Barilaro was placed into it.”