TRUE OPINION: As the inquiry begins into the former NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s controversial self-appointment to a plushy taxpayer-funded job in the Big Apple, Maisy Rae explores the trials of the saga so far.
It’s a story that should have been splashed across the front pages of our mastheads and on our nightly bulletins the moment it broke, and yet, the initial quietness over John Barilaro’s controversial appointment to a plum $500,000-a-year trade job in New York City, was a little … concerning.
The NSW Government revealed the appointment in a Friday news dump on June 17, with the former Deputy Premier recognised as the state’s senior trade and investment commissioner to the Americas following a “highly competitive and rigorous global talent search”.
It wasn’t long before alarm bells started to ring with the news that Barilaro had created the position just months before his resignation in October 2020.
But then the news came thick and fast.
It was first discovered the NSW Government had already offered the job to a senior public servant with a stellar résumé, only to rescind the offer and later appoint Barilaro after readvertising the role.
Investment NSW had interviewed four people in July last year with former bureaucrat, Jenny West, informed in August that she had gotten the job.
However, just weeks before Barilaro resigned, she was told the trade commissioner position had been rescinded.
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The Guardian reported last week that a senior public servant who reported directly to Barilaro before his resignation was one of four bureaucrats who interviewed him for the job.
The Sydney Morning Herald also revealed that an incoming secretary of the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet feared ministers would intervene with the recruitment of trade ministers, urging bureaucrats to finalise the process before they could get involved.
The recruitment firm was even told to halt the search for the role a day before Barilaro’s resignation.
Oh, and Barilaro’s appointment wasn’t signed off by Cabinet, even though it had overseen a series of identical appointments to other cities.
The whole thing stinks.
NSW Labor have accused the government of giving out “jobs for mates” over the appointment, commencing an upper house inquiry today (June 29) to investigate the recruitment process and if a dodgy deal was done.
Investment NSW boss, Amy Brown, was the first to front the inquiry today, revealing Barilaro’s office asked her about “the various mechanisms” by which the commissioners’ roles could be appointed, just WEEKS before he resigned.
Now Brown has said there was no foul play, maintaining Barilaro emerged as the “first-ranked candidate against the relevant criteria” and that her closeness to him during his time as trade minister did not raise red flags for the remaining panel members.
“I am confident that … I have fulfilled my duties … with respect to this appointment,” Brown told the inquiry.
She also said Jenny West, who received a verbal offer for the role in August, was “extremely upset”, and the situation felt irreconcilable.
“The relationship declined quite quickly once she was informed she may not be going to New York,” Brown said.
So, there was a far more qualified female candidate who got rolled by The Boys Club? Can they get any more cliche?
It comes as Premier Dominic Perrotet confirmed (after weeks of speculation about his prior knowledge) that he had heard from Barilaro about his NYC wet dream, but only in a “social setting” …. ooo-er.
It’s a classic own goal from this government who are now lauding themselves over their new and improved sense of ‘integrity’ after Dom recently ordered a review into how grants programs are administered.
Either someone’s telling porky pies or we are all being taken for absolute fools.
What is most staggering is not the act itself, but the sheer arrogance of this government. They don’t even try to hide it anymore.
I guess Friendlyjordies was wrong. It won’t be spaghetti fuelling this pork-loving Italian anymore, Johnny’s decided to go for a good ole’ fashioned NY pizza instead.
So, will Johnny Boy ever make it to the city of dreams?
Let’s see what the inquiry digs up.