A senior NSW minister is calling on former deputy premier John Barilaro to relinquish his controversial new trade job in New York.
Police Minister David Elliott said the appointment, the subject of two inquiries, was “an unnecessary distraction” for the Perrottet government as it tries to spruik its big-spending pre-election budget.
“My very, very strong view is that he shouldn’t be going to New York and I’m pretty sure that that’s the view of the majority of people in this state,” Mr Elliott said on Sky News on Thursday.
“I expect him to withdraw and do the honourable thing, because quite clearly when you become the story over an appointment, well, then the appointment might be not in the best interest of the people of NSW.”
The government announced two weeks ago Mr Barilaro had been appointed as the senior trade and investment commissioner, a job he created when he was trade minister.
The job comes with a $487,000 salary plus a $16,000 allowance. Mr Barilaro is due to start work in the Manhattan office on July 12.
The appointment, and its convoluted recruitment process, has been a source of controversy for the Perrottet government.
A parliamentary inquiry on Wednesday heard senior Investment NSW bureaucrat Jenny West was told last year she had the job.
Investment NSW boss Amy Brown told the inquiry she had to withdraw the verbal offer to Ms West in October after a request from Mr Barilaro’s office in late September to move the trade commissioner positions from an in-house decision for Investment NSW to one requiring cabinet approval.
Days later Mr Barilaro announced his retirement as deputy NSW premier and from politics.
Mr Barilaro was offered the job in May and signed the contract earlier this month.
The inquiry also heard the NSW government has spent nearly $1 million refurbishing part of the Australian consulate in New York for Mr Barilaro to occupy.
The parliamentary inquiry will resume on Thursday when Ms West will appear as a witness.
Premier Dominic Perrottet has also announced a separate review into the recruitment process, which he expects within weeks.