Australia For the sake of NSW, Stuart Ayres must resign

15:21  01 august  2022
15:21  01 august  2022 Source:   smh.com.au

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The fiasco over the appointment of former deputy premier John Barilaro to a $500,000-a-year New York trade job has preoccupied NSW politics for long enough.

Stuart Ayres, the minister most involved in this mess, should do the right thing and resign from cabinet and his position as deputy NSW Liberal Party leader.

Ayres insists he has done nothing wrong but his defences are becoming increasingly inconsistent and untenable. The almost daily stream of damaging revelations about the ill-fated appointment suggests Ayres has not been straight with the public.

Ayres claims to have been at "arm's length" from the process of recruiting for the US role but on Monday it was revealed he sent Barilaro a copy of an advertisement for the job when it was published in The Australian Financial Review last December. The minister had previously only said Barilaro contacted him via text message to ask about the role.

Email shows Stuart Ayres added name to shortlist for New York trade role given to John Barilaro

  Email shows Stuart Ayres added name to shortlist for New York trade role given to John Barilaro New South Wales opposition says an email suggests the Trade Minister "walked" former deputy premier John Barilaro into the high-paid role.The email — released on Thursday afternoon — raises further questions about Mr Ayres's involvement in the recruitment process.

Ayres says he informed Barilaro that he could apply for the job like "any other private citizen". But why are we only hearing these details now? What else don't we know?

If Ayres had shown better judgment he would have told Barilaro it was inappropriate for a former deputy premier to seek the lucrative trade commissioner posting he had actually created before resigning from parliament. Instead, he encouraged Barilaro's application by passing on the advertisement.

Emails released under parliamentary order last week revealed Ayres also recommended a shortlist of candidates to his department secretary and asked for a name - not Barilaro - to be added to the list. This is hardly acting at "arm's length".

Video: Stuart Ayres rejects calls to quit over Barilaro saga (9News.com.au)

Footy, horses and the whiff of an affair: the Barilaro scandal is a NSW saga par excellence

  Footy, horses and the whiff of an affair: the Barilaro scandal is a NSW saga par excellence More and more inconsistencies are emerging in Stuart Ayres' version of events, and it looks increasingly likely to end in the resignation of the deputy Liberal leader.Perversely, Ayres is pinning his salvation on all of us accepting that words such as “successful applicant” for a job don’t really mean what they say, as he has argued in the case of senior NSW bureaucrat Jenny West, who was awarded the post of New York trade commissioner.

Ayres is under increasing pressure and frustrated senior NSW Liberals believe he should stand aside.

In a social media post over the weekend Ayres argued "politics" was somehow to blame for his predicament, including Labor's ambition to win his seat of Penrith. This is delusional. In the same post, he again claimed the first recruitment round did not find a "suitable candidate". This is clearly false: senior public servant Jenny West was offered the job and Ayres even signed off on a ministerial briefing noting West as the successful applicant. Does Ayres really think the public is stupid?

In the meantime, the scandal deepens. Documents released on Monday showed Barilaro was not even the preferred candidate for the New York trade role and that a panel selection report was edited by a senior bureaucrat to enhance his assessment and list him as the first choice once he had already accepted the job.

NSW deputy Liberal Stuart Ayres denies helping John Barilaro get US trade job in Facebook post

  NSW deputy Liberal Stuart Ayres denies helping John Barilaro get US trade job in Facebook post Stuart Ayres dismissed speculation he played a helping hand as his involvement in the recruitment process comes under scrutiny.Mr Ayres dismissed allegations he had a hand in appointing Mr Barilaro as the Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner to the Americas.

The Herald believes Dominic Perrottet has been a good premier but he has dithered in the face of this political crisis. He says he wants to wait for the findings of an independent inquiry into the appointment by former NSW public service commissioner Graeme Head before taking any action (a separate parliamentary inquiry on Barilaro's appointment is also being conducted). Perrottet said on Monday the result of Head's inquiry will be available "very shortly".

Perrottet's ponderous approach to the Barilaro saga contrasts with the swift action he took late on Sunday to sack his small businesses and fair trading minister Eleni Petinos over bullying allegations.

There is already ample cause for Ayres to step down, regardless of the findings of any inquiry.

The government cannot afford to be sidetracked any longer by the Barilaro affair. NSW faces a raft of challenges that demand the cabinet's full attention. Families across the state are feeling the effects of a sharp increase in inflation. Interest rates are on the rise and house prices in Sydney are falling at the fastest rate in decades. The state's health system remains under pressure due to the winter COVID-19 wave and there are persistent problems with the government's ambitious transport infrastructure program.

Perrottet showed admirable decisiveness in dealing with Petinos. He must show the same toughness with Stuart Ayres.

The time has come to put the state - not political careers - first.

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John Barilaro New York trade job: How three top businesswomen were drawn into scandal .
The senior public servant who hired John Barilaro for the New York trade job has detailed how two other women were knocked out of the running while she kept an eye on keeping her minister 'comfortable'.The public servant in charge of hiring for the job, Investment NSW executive Amy Brown, told a parliamentary inquiry looking into the recruitment process on Wednesday that the experience had been a 'confusing' and 'disheartening' one.

usr: 1
This is interesting!