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Bureaucrat at centre of Barilaro trade job fiasco sacked

The senior NSW bureaucrat at the centre of the political scandal involving John Barilaro’s appointment to a high-paid overseas job has resigned.

September 19, 2022
By Finbar O'Mallon
19 September 2022

The senior NSW bureaucrat who appointed former deputy premier John Barilaro to a lucrative overseas trade job has been sacked.

Trade Department secretary, and former Investment NSW boss Amy Brown was found to have been indirectly influenced to preference Barilaro for the job despite a range of other highly-credentialed candidates.

Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter said after careful review of Ms Brown’s conduct he had decided she would not remain as head of the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade.

“It’s a privilege to hold a role as a senior leader in the NSW public service,” he said in a statement on Monday.

John Barilaro, whose appointment led to an independent review that has ultimately cost Amy Brown her job. (Mark Kolbe/Getty)

“With this, rightly, comes a high degree of accountability.”

In a Sunday LinkedIn post, Brown did not mention she had been fired but instead said she was proud of her time in government.

“After close to a decade working for the NSW Government, my tenure has come to an end,” Brown posted.

“I am exploring new opportunities in the private sector and hope to make an announcement about that soon.”

Brown was named in an independent review into the appointment of Barilaro to a $500,000-a-year, taxpayer-funded US trade job, released last month.

The review, conducted by former NSW public services commissioner Graeme Head, found Brown had been indirectly influenced by then-trade minister Stuart Ayres’ preference for who should get the New York-based role.

Stuart Ayres, who resigned as Trade Minister last month. (Mark Kolbe/Getty)

Ayres resigned as minister earlier in August after a draft excerpt from the Head review raised questions about whether he breached the ministerial code of conduct with his involvement.

The review found Barilaro’s appointment was not kept at arm’s length from government.

Premier Dominic Perrottet has said the appointment process was “flawed from the outset”.

Brown’s future was cast into doubt in August, despite her leaving Investment NSW to distance herself from the scandal.

Barilaro relinquished the job in June, just weeks after being appointed US trade commissioner, saying the job was untenable after becoming a “distraction”.

The appointment triggered two separate inquiries, plunging the Perrottet government into months of turmoil as the merits of the process were scrutinised.

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