A former NSW public commissioner will lead the prime minister’s inquiry into John Barilaro’s appointment as US trade commissioner.
Most important points:
- Graeme Head was the Commissioner of the NSW Public Service Commission for six years
- The government says Mr Head’s appointment will give public confidence in the process
- Opposition leader says too many questions remain unanswered
Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet announced that he would have his own review conducted on Thursday, entrusting the task to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter.
It comes as controversy mounts over how the former deputy prime minister and leader of the Nationals got the plum job with a salary package of more than $500,000.
In a statement on Saturday, it was announced that Graeme Head, who served as a commissioner of the NSW Public Service Commission for six years, would begin the review “immediately”.
“In order to ensure the utmost independence and public confidence in the process, Mr. Coutts-Trotter has decided to appoint an independent expert to assist the department with this investigation,” the statement said.
“Mr Graeme Head will conduct the investigation on behalf of Mr Coutts-Trotter and report to the department.”
Mr. Head, who is currently a partner at EY Port Jackson Partners, also has extensive experience in public administration and policy including leading the NDIS Quality And Safeguards Commission.
He will examine the recruitment process, including existing mechanisms for dealing with “actual and perceived conflicts of interest”.
A separate two-hour parliamentary public hearing on the matter will begin on Wednesday with just one witness: Chief Executive of Investment NSW Amy Brown.
Mr Barilaro’s appointment as Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner for America was announced a week ago in what the government said was a “rigorous global talent search” by a recruiting firm.
Since then, it has emerged that during a recruitment round, two highly regarded candidates were identified with Investment NSW who were almost ready to announce the successful individual publicly.
Those leaked emails went so far as to name investment NSW senior bureaucrat, Jenny West, as the successful candidate.
The review looks at the workforce, which cost more than $100,000 in recruiting before it was discontinued.
Mr Barilaro resigned from his political office a day after the decision was made to open the position to ministerial officials.
Opposition leader Chris Minns called the state government “reckless moneylenders” and said the prime minister needed to show the people of New South Wales that he was genuinely concerned.
He also said the Prime Minister’s reassurances were not enough in the face of so many unanswered questions.
“We were initially told there was an independent trial, we now know it was a ministerial appointment,” said Mr Minns.
“We were told that the cabinet could not look into these positions, we now know that several appointments have in fact gone to the cabinet.
“We were told that this was an international search, we now know that it has in fact been called off.
“And we also know that Mr. Barilaro resigned on October 4. And someone else was appointed in August and fired in September, Mr. Barilaro is stepping down in October.”
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