NSW Labor leader Chris Minns has announced an inquiry through the NSW upper house into the appointment of former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro as senior trade and investment commissioner to the Americas, which was announced last Friday afternoon.
“This represents everything that’s wrong with the NSW Liberals and Nationals after 11 [years] in government. This is Dominic Perrottet’s captain’s pick and he will be held accountable,” Minns said in a tweet.
Barilaro was among the state politicians responsible for Investment NSW when it was first set up in early 2021. The other ministers who were responsible for the office were then-premier Gladys Berejiklian and then-jobs minister Stuart Ayres.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has defended the appointment, saying Barilaro was the best candidate for the role.
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“It doesn’t come as any surprise to me that the independent process that occurred, that he was by far the most outstanding candidate and recommended by that panel to the government and I’m sure he will do a brilliant job,” the Premier said.
The process of the appointment was conducted by recruitment firm NGS Global, which the government described as a ‘highly competitive and rigorous global talent search’ in a media release.
Within the same statement, Ayres said Barilaro was well-suited to the role.
“John Barilaro’s specialised experience, first as a NSW business owner and then as trade & industry minister overseeing the NSW Trade Statement and the blueprint for expanding international trade and investment opportunities, make him well qualified for this posting,” Ayres said.
Barilaro himself commented: “I’m looking forward to supporting NSW companies to export and expand to the United States, including the many fintech, cyber security, space, health and food and beverage companies we are already helping to succeed in the US through the Going Global Export Program.”
Recently the former deputy premier resolved a lawsuit with Google over videos hosted by Jordan Shanks (aka ‘friendlyjordies’) on YouTube. The tech giant was ordered to pay Barilaro $715,000 for defamation.
As part of the same announcement, former national CEO of the Australia China Business Council Helen Sawczak was named senior trade and investment commissioner to greater China.
“Through Investment NSW, we already have an established presence in Shanghai and Guangzhou and one of my top priorities will be helping NSW companies connect to the world’s largest consumer market and supporting the return of international students,” Sawczak said.
This article was first published by The Mandarin.