Barilaro’s office inquired if STIC apppointment could be ministerial

By Anna Macdonald

June 30, 2022

Amy Brown
CEO of Investment NSW and secretary of the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade secretary Amy Brown.

CEO of Investment NSW and secretary of the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade Amy Brown fronted the NSW upper house inquiry committee yesterday, which is examining the appointment of former deputy premier John Barilaro as senior trade and investment commissioner (STIC) to the Americas.

There was some back-and-forth between the senior public servant and those on the committee, as there appeared to be confusion about which process the STIC appointments were meant to follow.

Brown gave evidence that Barilaro’s office made inquiries to her office about whether the appointment process for STICs could be changed to an appointment made by a minister, as opposed to a public service appointment. 

“We conducted a recruitment process, including panel interviews, there was a first-ranked candidate — who, I believe has been talked about quite a bit in the public domain — she was verbally offered the role, and then I was given a direction by the government to cease the recruitment due to a change in government policy to convert the roles into statutory officers appointed by a minister,” Brown said. 

The secretary continued to say the decision to change the position would have come from the responsible minister, which was Barilaro at the time. 

The person who was verbally offered the job was reportedly Jenny West, an experienced public servant who then saw the offer rescinded

Going into more detail about the offer to the candidate, Brown said interviews were conducted in July, with notes sent to premier Gladys Berejiklian, Barilaro, the then-treasurer Dominic Perrottet and minister Stuart Ayres saying West was preferred.

In September, Brown said issues had arisen over West’s appointment and her relationship with Investment NSW which she would discuss in camera, with Brown telling West the reason she would not be getting the STICs role was that the role was being converted to a ministerial appointment. 

The position was readvertised on December 17, and Barilaro officially resigned on December 31. According to the secretary, Barilaro then applied on January 19. Brown decided to give him the job in April. 

When asked by Daniel Mookhey about what he described as ‘highly suspicious chain of events’, where it appeared the recruitment process was disrupted resulting in Barilaro receiving the job, Brown said it was not Barilaro’s decision but the government’s. 

“It was a decision of government. As for the remainder of the events and how they unfolded, it’s not for me to express an opinion,” Brown said. 

Perrottet has previously said in Question Time the process was a public service appointment process, and it would have been ‘unlawful’ for him to interfere.


READ MORE:

Investment NSW CEO appears before Barilaro inquiry

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