In the days before John Barilaro announced his plans to leave politics, emails showed bureaucrats discussing changing the rules for recruiting new trade commissioners, and then deciding that the U.S. plum role would be handled “as an internal matter.”
- John Barilaro was last week as trade commissioner in the United States
- Investment NSW was asked to convert senior trade and investment commissioner roles into ministerial appointments
- Dominic Perrottet has promised to review Mr Barilaro’s appointment
The former NSW Deputy Prime Minister was last week named the state’s new senior trade and investment commissioner (STIC) for America, based in New York, a job that comes with a salary package of $ 500,000.
Documents obtained through parliament show that there was an earlier round of recruitment where two candidates were rated very highly but the role was re-announced in December.
Emails in these documents reveal that Investment NSW had identified a preferred candidate in early September and a draft contract was being drafted with a goal that they should start in October.
But on September 21, Investment NSW’s Advocate General wrote to the Director of People and Culture, saying that a question had been raised about the employment of more STIC roles under the Public Sector Employment Act.
“We are now being asked to consider whether there are alternative methods by which STICs could be used,” he wrote.
“Specifically, we have been asked if there is a possibility of ministerial appointments.”
Ten days later, on October 1 – the same day that Gladys Berejiklian announced she would step down as Prime Minister – Investment Chiefs of Investment NSW’s CEO Amy Brown sent another email to several colleagues.
“FYl – Amy wants to talk to Marianne [Broadbent from the recruitment firm]but needless to say, there are no more STICs whose appointment Investment will be involved in now – so shortlisting / panels, etc. are no longer necessary. “
Two days later, Mrs. Brown sent an e-mail to Dr. Broadbent.
“I appreciate that you will keep this confidential, but we have now received confirmed instructions to begin the preparation of legislation to transform the global senior trade and investment commissioners into statutory officials (ie ministerial appointments),” she said. .
“The General Agent for London and STIC for Tokyo will be transferred to the new events. This means that the recruitment process for the STIC positions in Singapore, India / Middle East and China must be suspended and all candidates are informed that we will not proceed with the process.
“We will handle the STIC New York position as an internal matter.”
Barilaro announced that he intended to leave politics the next day.
ABC sent detailed questions to both Investment NSW and Commerce Secretary Stuart Ayres’ office, asking why the department had been asked to convert the roles to ministerial appointments, and by whom.
“Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner roles are not statutory roles, they are public service roles established under the Government Sector Employment Act and regulations, and they are employed by Investment NSW,” a spokesman for Investment NSW said in a statement.
A spokesman for the NSW government said in a statement that the Department of Premier and Cabinet would review the recruitment process.
“It is not appropriate to comment further on the matter at this time,” the statement read.
“The notification will be published as soon as it is received.”
Sir. Barilaro referred ABC back to Investment NSW. ABC has also sent questions to the office of Treasurer Matt Kean, as well as former Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian.
On Wednesday, a proposal was passed in the upper house calling on the government to postpone the appointment until a parliamentary inquiry into the appointment returns in a few weeks.
The Green MLC Cate Faehrmann, who chairs the committee examining Mr Barilaro’s appointment, said there were serious questions to be answered.
“It looks like there was an intervention from the top to deal with a political issue. And that was John Barilaro,” she said.
“What we need to know now is, who in the current government knew what – what did the premiere know, and what did the treasurer know?”
That committee will meet tonight to decide on the terms of reference and hearings, but may call witnesses as early as next week.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet announced that he had asked the Secretary of State for Prime Minister and Cabinet to conduct a review.
“He will deliver the report to me, I will review it and publish it,” he said.
During Question Time, Mr Perrottet said that it was not necessary for the six STIC roles to be approved by the Cabinet, but two had gone to the Cabinet by mistake.
“It is not necessary or appropriate for such appointments to be approved by the Cabinet, as the positions are senior positions appointed by the CEO following a merit recruitment process,” he said.
“Government approval would have increased risks in the form of the actual or perceived non-compliance with the merit principle of the GSE Act 2013.
“With regard to these factors, the advice we have received, Mr President, is that the Cabinet could not intervene in that process.”
Posted , up to date