John Barilaro to face inquiry into $500k-a-year New York trade job appointment

Date set for John Barilaro’s appearance before an inquiry to be grilled about his controversial appointment to plum $500k-a-year New York trade job

  • John Barilaro to give evidence at an inquiry into his $500k trade job in New York
  • He will elaborate on his appointment to the job at the inquiry set for August 8
  • The former NSW deputy premier was appointed to the position last month 

Former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro will give evidence before a parliamentary inquiry investigating how he landed a taxpayer-funded trade job in New York.

Labor says the public accountability committee has scheduled a series of hearings after brokering a deal with the government to release three large tranches of documents relating to the appointment of the former NSW Nationals leader.

‘This is a victory for the public’s right to know and it’s a defeat of the government’s attempt to cover up these documents and the information they contain,’ Labor’s Shadow Treasurer Daniel Mookhey said on Thursday.

Mr Barilaro, who was last month announced as the state’s Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner to the Americas, will finally give his side of the story to the upper house inquiry on August 8.

John Barilaro (pictured) will give evidence before a parliamentary inquiry on August 8 on how he landed a taxpayer-funded trade job in New York

John Barilaro (pictured) will give evidence before a parliamentary inquiry on August 8 on how he landed a taxpayer-funded trade job in New York

The committee held off calling Mr Barilaro until the government made public all the documents it requested about the controversial appointment.

Mr Barilaro relinquished the role less than two weeks after his appointment was announced, as the political fallout heaped increasing pressure on the Perrottet government.

The inquiry’s hearings will resume on Wednesday when Investment NSW CEO Amy Brown will make a second appearance.

Another hearing will take place on Friday with multiple witnesses called including Mr Barilaro’s former chief-of-staff Siobhan Hamlin, Department of Regional NSW secretary Gary Barnes as well as staff from Investment NSW.

Ms Brown previously told the inquiry she withdrew the $500,000-a-year job offer from her colleague Jenny West after the relationship between Ms West and the government became ‘irreconcilable’.

Mr Mookhey says there are new lines of inquiry to quiz Ms Brown over, and questions remain about whether Investment and Trade Minister Stuart Ayres misled the parliament.

‘Mr Ayres has some very serious questions to be answering,’ Mr Mookhey said.

‘How (was it) possible that he could say in parliament that no suitable candidate was found, when he was told that Jenny West was the successful candidate – after a full recruitment process?

‘He’s either misled the parliament or he’s misled the public.’

The former NSW deputy premier relinquished his role as the state's Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner to the Americas less than two weeks after his appointment was announced

The former NSW deputy premier relinquished his role as the state’s Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner to the Americas less than two weeks after his appointment was announced

NSW premier Dominic Perrottet (pictured) has strongly defended Mr Barilaro's appointment, claiming the former NSW Nationals leader was the strongest candidate for the role

NSW premier Dominic Perrottet (pictured) has strongly defended Mr Barilaro’s appointment, claiming the former NSW Nationals leader was the strongest candidate for the role

Mr Ayres, who is in Mumbai with Premier Dominic Perrottet, told reporters on Thursday he had ‘absolutely not’ misled the parliament about the recruitment process.

He said he had simply relayed information given to him by Ms Brown, adding he maintained complete confidence in her.

The escalating scandal has dogged the pair’s trade mission and led to a daily barrage of heated questions.

Mr Ayres said suggestions Ms West was pushed aside from the appointment to make way for Mr Barilaro were not accurate.

‘I want to reject categorically that any decisions made at the end of the recruitment process were designed or orchestrated to create an opportunity for John Barilaro, alright,’ Mr Ayres said on Thursday.

‘That is a preposterous suggestion.’

He insisted Mr Barilaro applied as a private citizen, he did not take phone calls from his former colleague, and his role as a former deputy premier did not give him a leg up into the position.

Stuart Ayres (pictured) told reporters he had 'absolutely not' misled the parliament about the recruitment process after Mr Barilaro was hired for the trade job

Stuart Ayres (pictured) told reporters he had ‘absolutely not’ misled the parliament about the recruitment process after Mr Barilaro was hired for the trade job

Mr Perrottet continued to defend the appointment, saying he believed the former deputy premier was the strongest candidate.

‘I think John Barilaro was somebody who had that experience in NSW, and ultimately, from my advice was selected on merit in an independent process.’

Deputy Opposition Leader in the upper house John Graham said Labor was now focused on Mr Ayres’ role in the appointment.

‘There are real questions about whether or not this appointment was indeed at arm’s length,’ Mr Graham said.

Plans to recall the NSW Legislative Council on Friday – more than three weeks ahead of schedule – were scrapped after the government agreed to release the additional documents by Monday.

It comes as footage was released of Mr Barilaro getting into a scuffle with a cameraman outside a bar in Manly on Saturday night.

Police are investigating footage that appears to show former deputy premier John Barilaro locked in a scuffle with a cameraman

Police are investigating footage that appears to show former deputy premier John Barilaro locked in a scuffle with a cameraman

The video captured the incident unfolded outside of a bar in Manly, on Sydney's northern beaches, on Saturday

The video captured the incident unfolded outside of a bar in Manly, on Sydney’s northern beaches, on Saturday

The former NSW Nationals leader was pictured earlier in the evening having pizza and drinks at a bar, flanked by a security guard.

A Channel Seven reporter approached him later in the night to ask him questions about Labor blocking his attempts to appear in front of the inquiry into his job appointment.

The former NSW Nationals leader ignored the questions and walked away before he lunged at two cameramen as his security guard threw a microphone into the bush.

His new girlfriend, who was also his former media advisor, also attempted to grab the expensive equipment at one point.

Mr Barilaro then got into a scuffle with cameraman Matt Costello as he appeared to try and grab the camera out of the Mr Costello’s hands.

Mr Costello attempted to continue filming while blocking Mr Barilaro with his other hand, as the former deputy premier continued to swipe at him.

The group then walked away from the fracas.

The former NSW deputy premier told 2GB on Monday morning that the camera and microphone was shoved in his face.

‘The reality is people are now piling on, harassing, intruding, not allowing me to get on with my life, I’m a private citizen,’ he said.

‘They’ve turned up with a cameraman, I don’t know who it was, all I know is you could see a bright light shining in my bl***y face.’ 

‘All I did was push a camera out of my way, did not manhandle an individual.’

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