New South Wales premier, Dominic Perrottet, has initiated his own review of the process that led to former deputy premier John Barilaro being appointed to a coveted taxpayer-funded posting in New York City.
Perrottet said the results of his own review, which will be conducted alongside an upper house inquiry, would be made public.
“I’ve directed the secretary the Department of Premier and Cabinet [Michael Coutts-Trotter] to conduct a review,” he said on Thursday.
“He will provide that report to me … I will review it and I will make it public.”
Barilaro resigned from politics on 4 October.
The government announced on Friday that Barilaro had been appointed the state’s senior trade and investment commissioner to the Americas, a role the ex-Nationals leader created while trade minister.
The premier and the investment minister, Stuart Ayres, on Wednesday insisted the appointment had occurred through an “independent process”.
Both identified Amy Brown, the former secretary of the premier’s department and now the CEO of Investment NSW, as the ultimate decision maker.
Brown reported to Barilaro when he was the minister responsible for the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade.
Investment NSW told the Guardian that Brown had no conflict of interest in appointing the former deputy premier to the role. “No conflict of interest precluded the Investment CEO from making this appointment,” an agency spokesperson said in a statement.
Perrottet had said the initial recruitment phase was derailed when Brown said no candidate had been found.
A second appointment process then began, which led to Brown choosing Barilaro for the role, Perrottet said.
During question time on Wednesday, Ayres said the role was publicly advertised and Barilaro had applied as a private citizen.
“His application was not solicited by me, as the minister, or by Investment NSW,” Ayres said.
He told Perrottet and the deputy premier, Paul Toole, of the secretary’s recommendation to hire Barilaro on 30 April.
Ayres said he did not intervene in Barilaro’s appointment because it occurred after an “independent, open, merit-based recruitment process” that recommended a “qualified, suitable candidate”.
“I reject in the strongest possible terms that the appointment of Mr Barilaro, as quoted in some media outlets, was a ‘captain’s pick’ or a unilateral decision by me or any other minister.”
He said the decision was not required to go to cabinet.
Labor’s upper house leader, Penny Sharpe, said Perrottet and Ayres recommended the approval and bypassed the cabinet to avoid feedback from their cabinet colleagues.
A motion passed the upper house on Wednesday temporarily blocking Barilaro from taking the role until a parliamentary inquiry scrutinises the process.
NSW Labor leader, Chris Minns, says Perrottet’s commitment to an internal review is not good enough.
“This is just, I think, a farce at this point,” Minns told reporters on Thursday.
“We’re expected to believe a global search took place, not just the eight million people that live in this state, but everyone around the entire world, to represent the economic and trade interests of people in NSW,” Minns said.
“And the bloke they picked was the guy they sat next to for the past 12 years?
“It just happened to be the leader of the National party?
“This is a farce.”
Documents have revealed four people were considered for the New York-based role during the recruitment process, and two were shortlisted.
One applicant, Jenny West, was told in August by then-premier Gladys Berejiklian she had the job. She was later told the offer had been rescinded and was paid a substantial settlement.
Perrottet disputed claims West was offered the role, but said he would “get that clarified”.
He denied Barilaro’s appointment was “a captain’s pick”.
“These were public service decisions through an independent process.”
The premier told ABC radio on Wednesday he would take action if there “were not good reasons” behind the decision to appoint Barilaro.