No plans to return Ayres to NSW ministry

·2-min read

The NSW premier has no plans to return Stuart Ayres to cabinet, despite a review clearing the former trade minister of breaching ethical standards.

Mr Ayres resigned from investment, trade, sport and other portfolios last month over his potential breach of the ministerial code of conduct during the controversial appointment of former NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro to a coveted job in New York City.

An independent review ordered by Premier Dominic Perrottet and released on Monday cleared Mr Ayres of breaching the code.

The premier said on Wednesday he had "no plans at this stage" to recall Mr Ayres to the frontbench.

"The cabinet in place is serving the people of NSW," he told reporters.

No decisions had been made about a possible reshuffle before the March election, he said.

"That's not my focus," Mr Perrottet said.

Mr Ayres' behaviour was scrutinised after a broader inquiry into the appointment of the former deputy premier to the New York job found the trade minister may have breached the ministerial code of conduct.

That review by former NSW public service commissioner Graeme Head, released last month, found Mr Barilaro's appointment was not conducted at arm's length.

Mr Ayres maintained he had not engaged in wrongdoing but resigned from cabinet and relinquished his deputy Liberal leadership position.

The second review, conducted by respected legal mind Bruce McClintock SC, found Mr Ayres "complied with his obligation under the Ministerial Code of Conduct".

Mr Ayres and Mr Barilaro didn't appear to have a connection besides being cabinet colleagues and "were certainly not friends", Mr McClintock said.

Labor says Mr Ayres should stay out of cabinet, alleging he misled parliament in June by saying the Barilaro appointment was conducted at arm's length.

Mr Barilaro's appointment to the $500,000-a-year US trade envoy position has plagued the government in scandal for months.

Mr Barilaro relinquished the position in June amid allegations of "jobs for the boys", conceding his appointment was untenable and a distraction, but denying any wrongdoing.