Dominic Perrottet discussed former deputy premier’s job application in social setting

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet says John Barilaro told him he was intending to apply for the US trade commissioner role in a “social setting” after the former deputy premier left parliament.

Perrottet on Tuesday confirmed he learnt of Barilaro’s ambition for the $500,000-a-year role before the application process, however he could not recall when it was.

Dominic Perrottet and John Barilaro.Credit:Brook Mitchell, Jessica Hromas

He said he was later advised by Trade Minister Stuart Ayres that Barilaro had applied for the role, which was one of six trade commissioner roles Barilaro created as trade minister, but insisted it was an independent process in which government could play no role.

“I think in a social setting he may have said he was applying for a position, which was an independent process,” Perrottet said. “I speak to people socially all the time and there is always interested people saying I’m interested in this, I’m interested in that.”

“I was advised by Minister Ayres at some date … that he had applied for the role. But that was an independent process in which we were not to be intervening,” he said.

The trade commissioner roles that sit within Investment NSW have come under scrutiny since Barilaro’s controversial appointment to the US this month.

The decision to appoint Barilaro, who resigned from parliament on December 30, was not presented to cabinet, outraging Liberal ministers and backbenchers. Perrottet has said it would have been inappropriate for the role to be considered by cabinet because it was not a ministerial appointment.

Former Investment NSW deputy secretary Jenny West had been offered the role, but it was rescinded last year. The Herald has since revealed she contacted the head of the Department of Premier and Cabinet Michael Coutts-Trotter in January with concerns about how the process was handled.

Perrottet said he was unaware of the handling of West’s situation or a lengthy document in which she raised concerns with his department.

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