NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has urged voters to keep faith in his government ahead of next year’s state election arguing political scandals do not detract from his leadership.
“Look at our track record and where we are going to go. Is NSW a better place today than 11 years ago?” the premier said in an interview with AAP in Seoul during a 10-day Asia trade trip.
“Arguably 100 per cent it is.”
The premier’s trade trip comes as a months-long scandal about the appointment of former Nationals leader John Barilaro to a plum New York-based trade job intensified at home.
In a pitch to voters in the March 2023 election, Mr Perrottet said he deserved another term because he led NSW during a politically rocky transition.
“There’s a lot of noise but take me on my track record on what I’ve stood for and what I believe in, what I want to achieve and what I have achieved,” Mr Perrottet said.
Mr Perrottet became premier after his predecessor Gladys Berejiklian stepped down over corruption allegations in October 2021 during an economically turbulent time.
“We’ve turned around the economy, we have invested more in schools, in hospitals, public transport and road projects that have transformed our state and lay solid foundations for NSW going into the pandemic,” he said.
The opposition claims he “deliberately misled” parliament over a US trade job controversially handed to Mr Barilaro, with documents provided to an upper house inquiry on Tuesday revealing as treasurer he had been briefed on the chosen candidate.
The premier defended Trade Minister Stuart Ayres on Tuesday as documents emerged he had signed off on senior public servant Jenny West’s appointment despite telling parliament a suitable candidate was not identified.
Mr Perrottet said he had no recollection of receiving the brief and did not sign it, in contrast with Mr Ayres.
The premier told AAP Mr Barilaro was qualified for the job.
“John Barilaro was a former deputy premier and former trade minister and people shouldn’t be pilloried on their politics.”
His government was committed to greater transparency, Mr Perrottet said, pointing to legislation passed last week tightening lobbying practices in the state.
“We’ve invested significant amounts in relation to integrity measures in NSW and that’s really important … to restore public confidence in … our parliament and political institutions.”
The premier said voters should not lose faith in his government that was still dealing with recovery efforts from four major floods in the past 18 months and the devastating bushfires in 2020.
“People should trust government because there are good people in politics.”
Asked about his government’s approach to dealing with several unions, Mr Perrottet said he understood their concerns about wages but quickly noted “my job is not to do what’s popular but do what’s right”.
Many unions, including those representing nurses, paramedics, teachers and rail workers, have gone on strike and pursued industrial action over wage claims and working conditions, amid rising inflation.
“Our wages policy was a fair and reasonable policy that at 3.5 per cent manages the difficulties of the time,” Mr Perrottet said.
“You don’t want to end up chasing your tail. If you increase wages to such a level, you increase inflation.”
The premier will be joined by Mr Ayres as he heads to India on the last leg of the trip.
“I want to run a government that understands the priorities for which they’re working for,” he said vowing to cut red tape in disbursing funds to victims of natural disasters.