former deputy premier’s fiery testimony to trade inquiry – Michmutters

former deputy premier’s fiery testimony to trade inquiry

“Someone you are in relationship with… clearly was aware about the various processes associated with the advertising and the nature of this position,” she said.

The inquiry heard Lugsdin was copied into an email thread on December 9 about advertising the trade job, which was eight days before the public advertisement.

Barilaro insisted he was successful in securing the role through merit but granted parts of the process have since proven to be problematic.

“It hasn’t been as clean as it should have been and I’m the victim out of that, not the perpetrator,” he said.

He also said he wished he never applied for the trade commissioner role after the “personal hell” he has endured in the seven weeks since his appointment and subsequent withdrawal from the role.

“If I knew what I know now, I wish I never had applied,” he said on Monday. “If I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have walked into this shitshow … because the trauma I’ve gone through over the last six, seven weeks has been significant.”

Barilaro confirmed he had contacted Premier Dominic Perrottet, then-trade minister Stuart Ayres and Treasurer Matt Kean before he applied for the lucrative New York role, but that no concerns were ever raised.

“[Kean] would have told me bluntly if he thought it was going to be an issue, for sure. And he never did,” Barilaro said, adding that Kean was “supportive”.

Barilaro also maintained his push to have trade appointments made by ministers, not the public service, was unrelated to his post-politics plans.

A key point of contention in the drawn-out job saga that has plagued the NSW government has been an urgent submission which Barilaro took to cabinet in September last year to change the commissioner roles from public service decisions to ministerial appointments.

While the transition ultimately never occurred, it had the support of his cabinet colleagues.

Barilaro on Monday rejected any suggestion the cabinet submission was designed to benefit him.

The inquiry heard Barilaro lodged the cabinet submission on September 16, less than a week after giving private evidence to the anti-corruption commission about then-premier Gladys Berejiklian.

On September 24, Barilaro told the Federal Court in a defamation trial that he had decided to resign from politics, before then formally taking the submission to cabinet on September 27.

Berejiklian resigned on October 1 and Barilaro quit three days later.

Labor’s Daniel Mookhey said: “It does look like that cabinet submission was being put forward urgently because you knew that at some point [Berejiklian] was likely to have to resign.”

Barilaro rejected Labor’s suggestion that he knew about Berejiklian’s resignation in advance.

Department secretary Amy Brown gives evidence for the third time.

Department secretary Amy Brown gives evidence for the third time.Credit:Kate Geraghty

“I will absolutely refute that disgusting slur and accusation. You’re making me out to be corrupt,” Barilaro said.

Mookhey said: “If we’re to believe your version of events, Mr Barilaro, we have to basically conclude that you’re one of the luckiest men in NSW politics.” Barilaro disagreed, suggesting he was “the unluckiest man in NSW politics … because of those series of events.”

Barilaro also revealed he contacted Brown, the Investment NSW boss, to recommend former state Labor leader Jodi McKay and former Liberal minister Pru ​​Goward be permitted to belatedly apply for trade commissioner roles.

The pair were interviewed for roles but were not successful.

Barilaro launched a fierce defense of his right as a private citizen to apply for the US trade role, despite being the minister responsible for the positions when he was still in cabinet.

He maintained he was appointed by “apolitical public service personnel”, and denied he had an advantage over others, with former NSW Liberal premier Barry O’Farrell and former federal Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos among his referees. Ayres was also an informal referee for his application of him.


The trade job scandal has engulfed the Perrottet government and resulted in the forced resignation of Ayres from cabinet over concerns about his role in the saga. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Barilaro said interactions between Ayres and Brown, revealed through the inquiry, had surprised him “as much as it surprised anybody else”.

However, he said he “genuinely believed” Ayres had done nothing to help him secure the role.

Kean is expected to be endorsed as deputy Liberal leader at a party room meeting on Tuesday after Transport Minister David Elliott said he would not contest the position.

An Investment NSW spokesperson said Lugsdin was hired by an external recruitment agency last year and worked in a contract role as part of a contingent workforce. She was reviewed as the most qualified and skilled candidate put forward by four pre-qualified suppliers.

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