The CEO of Investment NSW will take part in a public hearing on Wednesday into the recruitment process for former Deputy Prime Minister John Barilaro’s new job in the United States.
- Investment NSW CEO Amy Brown will face a two-hour hearing next week
- Ms Brown said in an email that working in New York would be an ‘internal matter’
- Dominic Perrottet has promised a public review of the nomination
Barilaro was named the New York-based senior state trade commissioner for the Americas last week with a salary exceeding $500,000.
A previous round of recruitment identified two highly rated candidates, and in August last year internal emails, obtained through Parliament, show Investment NSW was almost ready to announce the successful candidate publicly.
It is understood that it was a senior official within Investment NSW, Jenny West.
On August 23, Kylie Bell, executive director of trade at Investment NSW, asked a colleague “could we also start press releases for NY, Mumbai and Singapore this week.”
“I think we’re close to being able to announce NY and the rest will probably be ready to go in September. Then we’re all done.”
Emails from early September indicated that a contract for the American role was in the works.
But three weeks later, the agency’s general counsel, Chris Carr, was investigating other methods of employment, emailing ‘we were asked if there was an option for ministerial appointments’ .
As the ABC reported on Thursday, Amy Brown, CEO of Investment NSW, then wrote to the external recruiter on October 3.
“I appreciate you keeping this confidential, but we have now received confirmed instructions to begin preparation of legislation to convert the Chief Global Trade and Investment Commissioners into Statutory Officers (i.e. say ministerial appointments),” she said.
“This means that the recruitment process for STIC positions in Singapore, India/Middle East and China will have to be halted, and all candidates informed that we are not going any further in the process.
“We will treat the STIC position in New York as an internal matter.”
Mr. Barilaro announced his resignation from political life the following day.
Invoices included in the documents show that at this point $100,000 had been spent on recruiting for the New York and Singapore posts alone.
A parliamentary inquiry will examine the appointment and recruitment process.
He will hold a two-hour public hearing on Wednesday, with only one witness, Ms Brown.
Labor MLC Penny Sharpe said the inquiry would be the start to find out exactly what led to Mr Barilaro’s appointment.
“There are so many questions that need to be answered,” she said.
“Not going all the way is a blatant waste of taxpayers’ money, but again begs the question of who was making the decisions and why didn’t they go ahead and decide instead that John Barilaro was the best person to go to New York.”
NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns has detailed how Mr Barilaro, who actually announced the commissioner’s posts when he was trade minister, ended up with the post.
“I think it went from farce to farce, the original explanations given to the public in the early days turned out to be wrong…or completely off the mark,” he said.
“We need to understand exactly how Mr. Barilaro was appointed to this position.
‘It was not the NSW government’s gift, it was the taxpayers’ funds going to Mr Barilaro to take up a post in New York.’
The ABC posed detailed questions to Investment NSW to find out who had asked for the roles to be transferred to ministerial appointments and why.
In a statement, a spokesman said he could not comment due to another review by the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office.
Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet has repeatedly defended Mr Barilaro’s appointment to the post, saying it was a civil service appointment that did not require any minister’s input or endorsement.
But on Thursday, he announced that his department would conduct a review which he would make public.
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