Public servant first offered Barilaro’s job to appear in public hearing

By Anna Macdonald

July 5, 2022

Barilaro inquiry
The inquiry into the appointment of John Barilaro as senior trade and investment commissioner to the Americas at NSW parliament house. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

Experienced public servant Jenny West is set to appear before the upper house inquiry into the appointment of John Barilaro as senior trade and investment commissioner (STIC) to the Americas, next Monday. 

West was verbally offered the position before Investment NSW CEO and Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade secretary Amy Brown rescinded the offer, telling West the position was to be by ministerial appointment during her own appearance at the inquiry

This change in how the appointment process worked was never put into effect, with the process remaining a public service appointment. 

During her hearing last week, Brown said issues had arisen in September over West’s appointment, adding she would discuss those issues in-camera with the committee. 

West is an experienced public servant, having held several positions such as deputy secretary, trade & international Global NSW as well as head of trade & investment and general manager, digital innovation & client services at Austrade. She has also held roles in the private sector at Telstra as the NSW-ACT director of Telstra Country Wide and at Westpac as head of migrant & expatriate banking. 

Chair of the inquiry Cate Faehrmann, a Greens MP, said it was important to understand West’s side of the story. 

“It’s important that Ms West, as the original preferred candidate, is provided the opportunity to ensure her side of events are also on the public record. That’s what we’ll be endeavouring to do at the next hearing,” Faehrmann said, as quoted in The Age

The centre figure of this situation, Barilaro, has withdrawn from the role, calling the media attention having made the position untenable. 

Barilaro’s office inquired whether the STICs positions could be changed to ministerial positions, which Labor MP Daniel Mookhey described as a ‘highly suspicious chain of events’.

There is a second ongoing investigation into the appointment, set up by NSW premier Dominic Perrottet, headed by former NSW public commissioner Graeme Head. 

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