John Barilaro’s former chief of staff, Siobhan Hamlin, has appeared as the first of three witnesses before the upper house inquiry into Barilaro’s appointment to senior trade and investment commissioner (STIC) to the Americas.
During her opening statement, Hamblin said as chief of staff from February 2020 to October 2021, a lot of her focus during that time was on the state’s COVID-19 response.
“This is the important context which explains why my response in many of the questions I expect to get today about the process to appoint trade commissioners was involved in the peripheral,” the former chief of staff said.
Hamlin added that Barilaro never expressed an interest in the roles for himself personally to her.
“Had I had reason to believe at any time that any steps or actions taken relating to the state and investment trade commissioners would benefit Mr Barilaro, I would have no issues escalating the matter and if necessary, make representations to the appropriate independent bodies,” Hamlin said.
Also scheduled to appear today is the managing director of Investment NSW, Kylie Bell, and the NSW public sector commissioner, Kathrina Lo.
Earlier this week, Investment NSW CEO Amy Brown appeared before the inquiry for the second time.
From Brown’s evidence, it became clear now former minister Stuart Ayres was not at arm’s length from Barilaro’s appointment. NSW premier Dominic Perrottet made the announcement that Ayres has resigned over his engagement and potential breach of the ministerial code of conduct, Perrottet’s second minister to resign in days.
Ayres has denied he breached the ministerial code of conduct, saying he was resigning to maintain the integrity of the Liberal Party.
NSW Labor leader Chris Minns has said that if he wins the state election, he will abolish all STIC roles.
“The John Barilaro NYC Job scandal can never happen again — and we’ll make sure it doesn’t. Putting an end to this waste and rorting,” Minns tweeted.