NSW Trade Minister Stuart Ayres has gone on radio in an attempt to defend his role in John Barilaro’s appointment to a lucrative $500,000 posting in New York.
Ayres has come under increased scrutiny in recent days after a cache of internal documents revealed he helped develop a candidate shortlist with department boss Amy Brown.
The trade minister told 2GB only one person within his own party had asked him to stand aside after the revelations and said he had the “full support” of NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet.
“He has been really supportive through this whole exercise,” he said.
As previously reported, documents have revealed that Ayres texted Barilaro an advertisement of the trade role he was subsequently appointed to. But the trade minister has insisted he told the former NSW deputy premier that he would need to apply as a private citizen.
This morning, Ayres said if he could go back in time he would tell Barilaro it would be too politically sensitive for him to apply for the role.
“I would love to be able to go back and say to him, you probably shouldn’t do this, but it still would have been his call and he still, regardless of what you have taken place, [he] should be afforded the right to apply for a role which is available to anyone in the community,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ayres said he is confident the ongoing parliamentary inquiry into the matter will show he acted in the “best interest of the public”.
I added that it wasn’t Barilaro’s decision to create the $500,000 trade posting in New York. Instead, he said the state government decided it wanted to form the role “a long time ago”.
“Having just been on a trade mission, I’ve seen the full benefits of this with having good quality people in these roles. But when John Barilaro decided that he was going to leave parliament, he was a private citizen.
“He was able to make an application for a job. It wasn’t going to be a decision that was going to be a political decision.”
When asked whether he believed he would survive the controversy, Ayres said he was adamant he had acted in good faith throughout the process.
“I’m confident that I’ve always acted in the best interest of the public.”