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ANTHONY KLAN

The appointment of former NSW Deputy Premier to a $500,000-a-year New York job represented a “jobs for the boys position” in a “whole sorry saga” that has “shaken the public’s confidence”, an inquiry has found.

A NSW upper house inquiry has also found NSW MP Stuart Ayres – who was demoted from minister last year amid the scandal – had acted inappropriately, shown poor judgement and mislead the public over the scandal.

“It is clear that the whole process was flawed and that the executive was not at arm’s length from the process,” the report states.

“This whole sorry saga has shaken the public’s confidence in the integrity of the Public Service recruitment.”

Barilaro resigned as NSW Deputy Premier in October 2021, citing vague “personal reasons”, just three days after the resignation of then NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Berejiklian announced her resignation on October 1, after being named as under investigation by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

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In early 2022 Barliaro was appointed a plum, $500,000-a-year, job as a New York-based trade commissioner – which was one of five global trade commissioner roles he had created as NSW Trade Minister.

“Barliaro was appointed to a $500,000-a-year job as a New York-based trade commissioner, one of five roles he had created as Trade Minister”

His appointment was despite the job – Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner to the Americas – having already been given to someone else.

The 108-page interim report released today. Source: NSW Parliament

News of Barilaro’s appointment emerged in June and the NSW ALP blocked it by launching a NSW upper house inquiry, which has today delivered its interim findings.

The upper house inquiry’s interim report says Barilaro’s appointment had “all the trademarks of a jobs for the boys position”.

“Barilaro’s appointment had all the trademarks of a ‘jobs for the boys’ position” – NSW upper house inquiry

Last week a report revealed Barilaro has ordered changes to the criteria of a $100 million fund for victims of the 2019 Black Summer bushfires, in a move that meant victims in almost all ALP electorates received no funding.

The ICAC’s Operation Keppel is investigating whether Berejiklian acted improperly over grants in the electorate of disgraced former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire, who, it later emerged, was her secret lover at the time.

At the heart of the probe is a $5.5m grant to the Australian Clay Targets Association, and grant proposals involving the Riverina Conservatorium of Music, both in Wagga Wagga.

As previously revealed, it was NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet – then NSW Treasurer – who signed off on the $5.5m gun club grant, and that his doing so was illegal.

As also revealed, it was Barilaro, as NSW Regional Minister, who created the fund that Perrottet made the illegal grant through, the $300m “Regional Growth – Tourism and Environment Fund”.

Perrottet, Barilaro and Ayes – also at the heart of ICAC gun club scandal. Source: The Klaxon

Ayres is also central to the $5.5m gun club grant scandal because he was the person who officially sought the approval for the grant, as NSW Sports Minister, in December 2016.

He took it to the NSW “Expenditure Review Committee” (overseen by then NSW Treasurer Berejiklian) where it was given conditional approval, before it was approved, eight months later, in August 2017, by Perrottet, then NSW Treasurer.

As previously revealed, aside from Berejiklian, the three MPs closest to the Wagga Wagga gun club grant were Perrottet, Barilaro and Ayres.

In August last year, after six weeks after the Barilaro New York jobs scandal broke,  Ayres “resigned” NSW Liberal leader and trade and investment minister, but remained in parliament.

Perrottet has said he will reappoint Ayres as minister if his government wins the upcoming NSW election.

“Perrottet has said he will reappoint Ayres as minister if his government wins the upcoming election”

Ayres’ “resignation” as NSW minister came after a draft report by another probe into the Barilaro New York job scandal, conducted by former public service commissioner Graheme Head.

Head, who was appointed to conduct his inquiry by Perrottet, found the appointment was not at “arm’s length” and raised questions over whether Ayres had breached the ministerial code of conduct.

NSW Premier Perrottet responded to that draft report, in August last year, saying “Mr Ayres denies any wrongdoing at all”.

He said a further investigation into Ayre’s conduct would be conducted by the Department of Premier and Cabinet – Perrottet’s own department.

It has not reported any findings.

The NSW Premier has previously said he would pay no regard to the upper house inquiry into the Barilaro New York jobs saga.

“Labor’s focused on politics, I’m focused on fixing problems, and this is a political committee,” Perrottet said last year.

NSW goes to the polls on March 25.

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