Staffer at centre of Barilaro-gate sacked

·3-min read

NSW taxpayers will pay nearly $500,000 to a senior bureaucrat who has been sacked after appointing former deputy premier John Barilaro to a lucrative overseas trade job.

Departmental secretary and former Investment NSW boss Amy Brown was found to have been indirectly influenced to preference Mr Barilaro for the job despite a range of other well-credentialed candidates.

The scandal has already cost former-trade minister Stuart Ayres his job after questions were raised about his involvement in the appointment.

With Ms Brown out of the way, Labor leader Chris Minns warned the premier against allowing Mr Ayres to return.

He said Mr Ayres had obviously been involved in Mr Barilaro's appointment and reinstating him would send the wrong message.

"It's just beyond credible that Amy Brown should take the rap for the NSW government's decision," Mr Minns said on Monday.

Labor's Penny Sharpe said Ms Brown seemed to be taking the fall for the whole scandal which had already cost taxpayers thousands.

"This has been jobs for the boys the whole way through," Ms Sharpe said.

Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter said after careful review of Ms Brown's conduct he had decided she would not remain as head of the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade.

"It's a privilege to hold a role as a senior leader in the NSW public service," he said in a statement on Monday.

"With this, rightly, comes a high degree of accountability."

Premier Dominic Perrottet has been contacted for comment.

In a Sunday LinkedIn post, Ms Brown did not mention she had been fired but instead said she was proud of her time in government and was pursuing jobs in the private sector.

"After close to a decade working for the NSW Government, my tenure has come to an end," she said.

"Courageous leadership is not always comfortable."

Ms Brown is on a roughly $614,000 per year salary and is now entitled to 38 weeks of her salary plus entitlements - at least $450,000.

An independent review was held earlier this year into the appointment of Mr Barilaro to the $500,000-a-year, taxpayer-funded US trade job.

It found Ms Brown had been indirectly influenced by Mr Ayres's preference for who should get the New York-based role.

Mr Ayres resigned as minister last month after a draft excerpt from the review raised questions about whether he breached the ministerial code of conduct with his involvement in the appointment process.

The review found Mr Barilaro's appointment was not kept at arm's length from government.

Mr Perrottet has previously said the appointment process was "flawed from the outset" and ordered an independent legal review to establish if Mr Ayres had breached the ministerial code.

The review, carried out by former ICAC inspector Bruce McClintock SC and released last week, found Mr Ayres had not breached the code, but he remains on the backbench.

Ms Brown stood aside from her role as head of Investment NSW in August, saying at the time she wanted to focus on her position as departmental secretary.

Mr Barilaro relinquished the trade job in June, just weeks after his appointment was announced, saying the role was untenable and had become a distraction.

NSW taxpayers paid nearly $1 million to refurnish Mr Barilaro's New York office-to-be plus an estimated one week's wage after he withdrew.

The appointment plunged the Perrottet government into months of turmoil as the merits of the process were scrutinised.

Elizabeth Mildwater will step in for Ms Brown from Tuesday. She is the current chief executive of the Greater Cities Commission and former deputy secretary of Transport for NSW.