NSW enterprise, investment and trade minister Stuart Ayres has resigned over the ongoing saga of the appointment of former deputy premier John Barilaro to senior trade and investment commissioner (STIC) to the Americas.
In a press conference, NSW premier Dominic Perrottet said he had received a draft of a review he requested into the appointment, and as a result of what was contained in the draft, Ayres has resigned.
“[The draft] was brought to my attention yesterday that relates specifically to the conduct of Mr Ayres in respect to his engagement with the department secretary in relation to the recruiting,” the premier said.
Ayres put out his own short statement, stating that the investigation created a “question” as to whether or not he breached the ministerial code of conduct, although he stated he believed he had not.
“I have always applied the highest levels of integrity in my conduct as a minister.
“To maintain the integrity of the cabinet, I have decided to resign as a minister to allow the investigation to be completed. Accordingly, I will also be resigning as the deputy leader of the Liberal party,” Ayres said.
The department inquiry is one of two ongoing investigations into Barilaro’s appointment, with this review being led by former NSW public service commissioner Graeme Head.
An upper house inquiry into Barilaro’s appointment is ongoing, with Investment NSW CEO Amy Brown set to appear on this morning.
On Brown, Perrottet said he would make decisions once the full review is out. The premier added he would not be releasing the draft but would be releasing the completed report soon.
“I haven’t seen the entirety of the review and obviously information will come from that… information I received yesterday obviously has certain elements in relation to the department secretary but only so far in respect to the engagement [with Ayres],” Perrottet said.
Perrottet alluded to Ayres breaching the ministerial code of conduct by influencing Brown’s decision, which he said a review would be conducted to find whether there had been a breach or not.
The premier stressed Ayres denies any wrongdoing, and he was to remain as a member of parliament.
Ayers is the second minister to resign this week, following Eleni Petinos being let go as minister for small business and fair trading following allegations of workplace bullying.
Barilaro has since withdrawn from the role, citing media attention making his position in the role untenable.