Former NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro’s appointment to an overseas posting he created, that would make him more money than the premier, will be probed in a parliamentary inquiry next week.
The upper house Public Accountability Committee will examine the circumstances leading to Mr Barilaro’s appointment as senior trade and investment commissioner to the Americas, beginning with its first hearing on Wednesday.
It will look into the process, probity and integrity measures undertaken, and any other matter related to his appointment.
Mr Barilaro, the former NSW deputy premier and trade minister, has been blocked from beginning the role until the inquiry concludes.
The inquiry will run separate to a review headed by Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter, with a report provided to Premier Dominic Perrottet.
The premier and senior government ministers have defended the appointment of Mr Barilaro as the result of an independent process, with Mr Perrottet telling parliament on Wednesday it would have been unlawful for him to intervene.
Mr Perrottet said he had been informed an initial recruitment process had not identified a suitable candidate and a second was undertaken, led by a third-party recruiter.
The opposition has told parliament the role was offered to former Investment NSW trade and international deputy secretary Jenny West, but the offer was rescinded and she was paid a settlement.
Mr Perrottet said that decision was made by Investment NSW Chief Executive Officer Amy Brown, who used to report to Mr Barilaro.
Labor leader Chris Minns described the bungle as “going from farce to farce”, lambasting the premier for suggesting a review process into the appointment was an adequate measure.
“A review is something that you give a movie. We need an inquiry,” he said.
“We need to understand exactly how Mr Barilaro was appointed to this position. This is not the gift of the NSW government, these are taxpayer funds.”
Mr Minns pointed to the sizeable $500,000 package plus $100,000 moving expenses as warranting a transparent explanation to taxpayers from the government.
“It doesn’t pass the sniff test. This is public money. We need to get to the bottom of how he was appointed,” he said.
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann will chair the inquiry with Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MP Robert Borsak as deputy.
Three government members and two from the Labor opposition will also be on the committee.