Barilaro successfully applied for a public sector position paying up to $500,000 a year based in New York. Barilaro helped to create the position while in office. Public servant Jenny West has claimed she was offered the position then had the offer revoked. Barilaro withdrew from the role following scrutiny. He has said he regrets applying and called himself “a victim” of a political attack. Former Liberal Minister Stuart Ayres stepped down over the appointment after it emerged he had texted the job application to Barilaro.
What does this mean?
The NSW Legislative Council (upper house) held an inquiry into the appointment led by the Greens’ Cate Faehrmann and with members from across the political spectrum. The committee handed down a report today arguing the selection process was “flawed” and lacked “transparency and integrity.” It also found Ayres had not been “at arm’s length from the process” and had “misled the public.”
The three coalition members of the inquiry panel did not support these findings and published a dissenting review. They called the report a “politically motivated hit job in the lead-up to the election,” which will be held in March. “While the process was imperfect, Mr. Barilaro was appointed by a competitive… selection process,” the coalition members said.
Both major parties have been criticised for appointing political ‘mates’ to publicly-funded appointments at all levels of government. A recent report by the Grattan Institute found “a significant and growing percentage” of appointees had political connections, which they say undermines “the health of our democracy.” Yesterday, the federal government announced a review into how to end “the jobs for mates culture” in federal appointments. The review will consider new appointment processes to improve transparency, diversity, and merit.