7 March 2023

Corruption watchdog clears John Barilaro of wrongdoing over top trade role

| Claire Fenwicke
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John Barilaro

ICAC stated it had found no evidence of corrupt conduct by former Monaro MP and NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro regarding the STIC Americas position. Photo: File.

An investigation into whether former NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro engaged in corrupt conduct over his appointment to a top trade job in New York has been dropped.

In July 2022, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) began an investigation into whether the former Monaro MP – along with former NSW Trade Minister Stuart Ayres, former public servant Amy Brown (who oversaw the recruitment process) or any other public official – breached public trust, exercised their official functions “dishonestly or partially”, or if their actions negatively impacted the “honest or impartial exercise of official functions” by any public servant.

This was all in relation to the recruitment of the Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner (STIC) to the Americas, which was awarded to Mr Barilaro and subject to a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry.

Evidence from this inquiry was sent to the corruption watchdog after hearing claims from the former top candidate for the New York trade job that she was told the position would be a “present for someone”.

Mr Ayres also came under scrutiny during the inquiry when an email showed he had been involved in deciding a shortlist of candidates.

At the time, Mr Ayres defended the process, posting on social media that it was an “independent, transparent and meritorious selection process”.

He then resigned from his Trade Minister position when Premier Dominic Perrottet launched an independent review into the process.

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An ICAC statement outlined that the Commission had collected information and documents and interviewed several witnesses in a number of “compulsory examinations” since launching the investigation in July.

As a result, it decided to end its investigation.

“The investigation did not identify any evidence of corrupt conduct,” it said.

“The Commission does not propose taking any further action with respect to the matter.”

The Parliamentary Inquiry into the position recently wrapped up, releasing two reports.

Its interim report found the trade role had “all the hallmarks of a ‘jobs for the boys’ appointment” and that some of Mr Ayres’ discussions with Mr Barilaro over the role were “inappropriate”, while its final report also found Mr Barilaro had inappropriately interfered with the appointment of the senior UK trade position.

However, dissenting reports from some panel members were also issued, stating they were “politically motivated hit job[s]” by the Labor and Greens parties, and their findings should be “rejected”.

Two other independent reviews launched by the NSW Government found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Original Article published by Claire Fenwicke on Riotact.

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