Investigation into John Barilaro’s Plum $500 Ka-Year Trading Post Begins
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Investigation into John Barilaro’s Plum $500 Ka-Year Trading Post Begins

The successful female candidate for a $500,000-a-year job posting had withdrawn her “oral offer” before the plum job eventually went to John Barilaro, an investigation has heard.

The inquiry was told businesswoman and former NSW Deputy Secretary of Investments Jenny West was “extremely upset” that her offer was being withdrawn, according to instructions from Mr. Barilaro’s office.

Inquiry into John Barilaro's plum $500K-a-year trade posting begins | The West Australian

The revelations came Wednesday during the first day of hearings examining the nomination of the former NSW Deputy Prime Minister as the lucrative New York-based NSW Trade Commissioner for the U.S. Postal Service.

Camera icon John Barilaro’s appointment to the plum position has been the subject of much controversy. NCA Newswire/Gaye Gerard Credit: News Corp Australia

The upper house inquiry is the first of two investigations into Baril aro’s appointment to one of five global trade commissioner positions he created when he was secretary of commerce.

His appointment has sparked controversy since the announcement last week, months after Barilaro retired from politics.

Investment NSW chief executive Amy Brown, the recruiting bureaucrat for the position, was the first person to be called to testify during the upper house inquiry on Wednesday.

Ms. Brown said she had been instructed by Mr. Barilaro’s office to “develop” the recruitment process by the end of September.

Ms. Brown said the government wanted to change how to trade commissioners were elected – to make them ministerial rather than public service appointments.

“I was ordered by the government to halt recruitment due to a change in government policy to convert the roles to statutory officers appointed by a minister,” she said.

She said Jenny West, who she described as a “great candidate,” withdrew her offer on October 1.

Barilaro announced his plans to resign from parliament three days later.

It was decided not to proceed with the ministerial appointment plan after Mr. Barilaro was replaced in the trading portfolio by Stuart Ayres, Ms. Brown told the inquiry.

Investment NSW has retranslated its position in New York. Mr. Barilaro applied and was considered the preferred candidate out of 12 applicants.

NSW Labor frontbencher Daniel Mookhey asked Ms. Brown why she didn’t just relist the position to Ms. West rather than start a second recruitment process.

Ms. Brown said that was a “very good question”. She said that she thought the relationship between Ms. West and the government had deteriorated beyond repair.

“The news came on October 1; she was very upset about that, understandably,” said Ms. Brown.

“To me, the fact that we couldn’t appoint anyone for some time and that she was very unhappy with the arrangements and the government made the situation quite incompatible.

“The relationship deteriorated quite quickly when she was told she might not be going to New York, so by the end of the first trial, I had formed the impression that there was no suitable candidate.”

Ms. Brown told the inquiry that negotiations for the three-year trade secondment began on May 23, immediately after Mr. Barilaro was offered the job orally.

Ms. Brown began Wednesday’s hearing with a statement about her commitment to public service, saying she believed Mr. Barilaro’s appointment was beyond expectations.

Mr. Barilaro will start in the role on July 12.

The higher house investigation into his appointment continues.