Sunday 25th of September 2022

a $500,000-a-year role…….

Former deputy premier John Barilaro has been told to prepare for a grilling about his girlfriend's job at Investment NSW later this week, as the saga into his appointment to a lucrative trade position continues.

Key points:
  • The inquiry heard Mr Barilaro recommended his former media advisor and girlfriend for a role at Investment NSW 
  • The inquiry resumes hearings on Friday
  • NSW Liberal MPs are set to determine the party's new deputy leader today

Yesterday, Mr Barilaro faced a parliamentary inquiry into his appointment as the state's Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner to the Americas — a prestigious job based in New York which he has since withdrawn from.

During his evidence yesterday, Mr Barilaro said he had spoken to Premier Dominic Perrottet, then-trade minister Stuart Ayres and Treasurer Matt Kean about how he wanted the $500,000-a-year role.

He also told the inquiry he recommended his former media advisor, who later became his girlfriend, Jennifer Lugsdin, for a role at Investment NSW last year.

Mr Barilaro told the inquiry he was not in a relationship with her while he was deputy premier, or in cabinet. 

He stepped down from politics in October, 2021. 






we are going to crash…….

The saying goes that disunity is death in politics, but for Dominic Perrottet it is just about all he’s got.

The Premier has become hostage to a public inquiry that now eclipses his government.

Instead of accounting for his own role in the saga over a $500,000-a-year job that was a tipping point for the public, he has been fighting by the inch over his role in the appointment while it sapped his authority.

“I can’t see what else you could expect to happen,” said one MP on Monday when asked if he thought a challenge would ever eventuate. “We are in a plane and the trajectory is clear – we are going to crash.”

But after reports smattered across papers for weeks that senior MPs have been giving serious thought to booting the Premier no contenders are declared.

Factional gremlins

Factions have long been the gremlins in the Liberal Party machine and are most visible when political times are tough.

When asked if they thought that that the Treasurer, Matt Kean, might have been plotting against the Premier, one of Mr Perrottet’s supporters said: “Yes.” But they said the same could have been said at more than one point in the recent past.


Mr Kean, who is leader of the party’s moderate faction, denied any such plans this week.

Some Liberals from this grouping of the party seem to be working in opposition to Mr Kean who they deride as the choice of Greens voters and inner-city residents.

Many of these MPs are close to Natalie Ward, a former commercial solicitor and rugby union enthusiast married to the Liberal-aligned lobbyist David Begg. Some ministers are making a show of calling on Mr Kean to make way for a woman; Ms Ward is looking for a safe seat.

The party’s centre-right, the crumbling political home of PM Scott Morrison, is losing its base and trying to cut a deal. Factional boss David Elliott is searching hurriedly for new opportunities after facing the axe from cabinet but also his seat after a redistribution.

And the party’s hard right, Mr Perrottet’s loyalists, is in a fight with its core supporters who say the Premier sold out to Mr Morrison in a preselection deal that cut out votes by party members.

These groupings are complicated by enmity and distrust between their members which runs deep and stands between Mr Perrottet and a tap on the shoulder.

The five groups openly worked against each other on Saturday during an election for party leadership positions.

The rivalry has made for a febrile atmosphere where leaks including an anonymous complaint about bullying have suddenly proliferated suggesting some tough months ahead in government whatever else.

Death by exposure

Mr Barilaro has already quit politics and can only be moved so much by this inquiry. But political exposure could soon hit Mr Perrottet if it continues to occupy the centre of attention.

On Monday questioners noted how quickly John Barilaro went from testifying at a secret ICAC inquiry to getting a submission to cabinet about his future job and resigning. He denied ever benefiting from inside information or other privileges relating to his time in politics.

A former premier of Victoria, John Cain, said inquiries are less about details than the authority of a government.

“What will be seen as the severity of a minister’s sins are a matter of how the government is travelling and how the minister is travelling,” he said.


Mr Perrottet’s has been damaged badly by his refusal to account for what he knew about the job for his old deputy.

On Monday Mr Barilaro filled in some details when he said he had played an open hand with senior ministers about his intentions to apply for the post.

Always checking in

He said he had told Premier Perrottet that he intended to apply for the job and was given words of encouragement.

“He was always checking in on me,” Mr Barilaro said.

Most damaging of all for a government that seems like it has something to hide was the seemingly remorselessness of one of its formerly senior members.

“I had my credentials and application publicly derided in what is nothing less than an abuse of my privacy,” Mr Barilaro said.

He added that a poorly managed recruitment process could not be held against him when he had already left government: “I’m the victim out of that … I’m not the perpetrator.”

Other issues like Mr Barilaro’s denial that he had previously seen a document that bore his digital signature might have done as a scandal in a time when ministerial accountability was not so debased.

But as a growing number of Liberal MPs are now concluding, that is all very much beside the point.






GusNote: it looks like Barilaro is "singing like a canary"... 


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when the truth hurts?…...


John Barilaro has pulled out of a second appearance at an inquiry investigating his appointment to a plum trade role in New York City due to illness.

The former NSW deputy premier was due to front the inquiry on Friday to face further questions over his controversial appointment to the overseas trade job.

Mental Health Minister Bronnie Taylor said the constant attention had taken a toll on Mr Barilaro, who she described as her friend.

“He is not up to attending the inquiry today,” she said.

“He has been very open about his struggles with mental health.”

A parliamentary committee has been examining how Mr Barilaro got the overseas role, which was created while he was the state’s trade minister.

He was appointed to the position despite a senior bureaucrat at the state’s investment agency earlier being identified as a preferred candidate.

Mr Barilaro stepped down from the role less than two weeks after his appointment was announced in June.

He told the inquiry during his first appearance on Monday that he did not believe he had done anything wrong, but he regretted applying for the job.

“If I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have walked into what was a s–tshow,” he said.

“Because the trauma I have gone through the last six, seven weeks has been significant.”

Ms Taylor criticised the three weeks Mr Barilaro had to wait before being able to give his side of the story at the inquiry.

“How would that make you feel and how would you manage that?” she said.

“He has been been very honest and very open.”

Committee chair Cate Faehrmann said on Thursday that Mr Barilaro had been asked to give further evidence as there were still questions about the transparency of the appointment process for his and other trade commissioner roles.

The committee has expanded the terms of reference for its inquiry and is now investigating the appointment of all the state’s trade commissioners.

Labor has pledged to abolish the roles if it wins the March state election.

On Tuesday, text messages between Ms Brown and other government department secretaries were revealed, showing their reaction to news reports of Mr Barilaro’s appointment in June.

“This isn’t great,” Ms Brown wrote on June 20, sharing a news article flagging the inquiry that she has now appeared in front of on three separate occasions.

Mr Barilaro’s appointment is also subject to a Department of Premier and Cabinet review led by former NSW public commissioner Graeme Head.

A draft excerpt of his report prompted Stuart Ayres to resign from cabinet and as deputy Liberal leader.

Another review, led by prominent lawyer and former ICAC inspector Bruce McClintock, will examine whether Mr Ayres breached the ministerial code of conduct.









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