Former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro told Dominic Perrottet, Stuart Ayres and Matt Kean he wanted US job, inquiry hears – Michmutters

Former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro told Dominic Perrottet, Stuart Ayres and Matt Kean he wanted US job, inquiry hears

Former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro has told an inquiry he wishes he did not apply for a lucrative New York role he was controversially awarded, describing the process as a “s**tshow”.

Mr Barilaro is giving evidence for the first time to an upper house inquiry into the recruitment process that saw him appointed the state’s Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner to the Americas.

He has since withdrawn from the $500,000-a-year role, which is based in New York.

Mr Barilaro told the inquiry he flagged his interest in the role to Premier Dominic Perrottet on a phone call in November after his resignation from cabinet, to which he claimed Mr Perrottet responded “great”.

Mr Barilaro said he spoke to then-trade minister Stuart Ayres and texted Treasurer Matt Kean about the role, too.

He told the inquiry he expected to clear his name and has refuted any suggestion he sought any special treatment.

LIVE UPDATES: Read our live blog as John Barilaro gives evidence

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Daniel Mookhey closely questioned Mr Barilaro.(AAP: James Gourley)

Mr Barilaro was asked about a briefing note sent to his office stating a candidate for the job, Jenny West, had been selected for the role in August 2021.

He said he didn’t recall seeing the note, but accepted it contained an electronic signature of his in accordance with a process in his office for when he was away.

Mr Barilaro said he had “no issue” with Ms West, who described him as a “strong professional”.

Ms West has previously given evidence to the inquiry that she was told on August 12 she was the successful candidate.

She claims that offer was later revoked and she was told the job would be a “present” for someone.

“I didn’t know that Jenny West was offered a contract … this inquiry has really opened that up,” Mr Barilaro said today.

He denied the government was seeking to create a bunch of “pork barrels” in changing the position to become a ministerial appointment.

“I will say this, if I knew what I know now, I wish I never had applied,” Mr Barilaro said.

“If I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have walked into what was as**tshow.

“I’m going to use those terms, I’m sorry to say, because the trauma I’ve gone through over the past six to seven weeks has been significant.”

‘An error’ to offer Barilaro the job

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Amy Brown appeared before the inquiry for a third time.(abcnews)

In her third time answering questions before the inquiry, Investment NSW chief executive Amy Brown said that, “in hindsight”, it was an “an error” to offer Mr Barilaro the US job before a panel report was signed.

“The way these roles were set up as public service appointments, but with a high degree of ministerial interest, made it difficult to run an optimal process,” she said.

Ms Brown recalled hearing from Mr Barilaro in August 2021, when he recommended his then-senior-media-adviser, Jennifer Lugsdin, for an upcoming opening at Investment NSW.

Mr Barilaro and Ms Lugsdin are in a relationship, which did not commence while he was deputy premier, and Ms Brown said the only comment from him in that call about a relationship was regarding a professional one.

Ms Brown was presented with a chain of emails from December 2021 showing communication about the recruitment process for the US role.

The position was re-advertised publicly, on December 17, however the emails were sent about a week prior. The email chain was forwarded to Ms Lugsdin.

Ms Brown agreed it was a fair inference that Ms Lugsdin would have known by at least December 10 about a decision to commence advertising the role that year, “assuming she read that email”.

Elliott bows out of race for deputy Liberal leader

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David Elliott avoided answering whether he discussed the role with Mr Perrottet. (AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Meanwhile, the upper house inquiry’s terms will be extended to include other trade roles, after allegations Mr Perrottet offered to create a job for Transport Minister David Elliott.

This afternoon, Mr Elliott announced he would not run for the deputy leadership of the NSW Liberal Party after the resignation of Stuart Ayres from cabinet last week over “concerns” about his conduct in the appointment of Mr Barilaro.

Mr Elliot told Nine radio he would not contest the role, due to be determined on Tuesday, after a discussion with Mr Perrottet.

“I don’t think that’s going to be in the best interests of the party and I think it’s in Dominic’s best interests for us to have some unity for the parliament over the course of the next eight months as we go to an election,” he said.

Earlier today the Premier hosed down the job claims, telling Nine radio he had spoken to Mr Elliott about several roles — including NSW’s agent-general position in London — but that he was “never promised a job outside of politics”.

“That is deeply offensive and wrong,” the Premier said.

“But people always say, from time to time, discussions will be had in relation to when someone withdraws what they would like to do. That is normal.

“What I don’t do, as Premier, is say that I will ever make those appointments or offer anyone a job.”

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‘Offensive’ allegations: NSW Premier denies offering trade job as sweetener

Mr Perrottet said the conversations he had with ministers were private.

“I am not going to go into details in relation to parliamentary secretary roles or a role in the ministry,” he said.

He did not deny an allegation that Mr Elliott had requested to be made NSW governor if he retired.

“From time to time, members of parliament will always say to their colleagues what they would like to do after politics,” the Premier said.

“People come to me, or come to my colleagues and say, ‘When I leave parliament I’d like to do A, B, and C’.”

Dominic Perrotte
A spokesperson for Mr Perrottet says any appointments are a matter for the Premier.(AAP: Bianca De Marchi)

NSW Shadow Treasurer Daniel Mookhey said Mr Perrottet had many questions to answer.

“The allegations about the Premier allegedly offering David Elliott an appointment to the agent-general position in London are deeply serious,” Mr Mookhey said.

“Labor as a result will seek to expand the inquiry’s term of reference so we can examine the agent-general’s position as well as other roles across the world.”

The Premier said he would adopt the recommendations of a review into the hiring process for trade roles, which is due to be finished within days.

Treasurer Matt Kean confirmed he would run for the position of Deputy NSW Liberal Leader.

The Premier’s office has been contacted for comment.


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