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Emails show applicants for John Barilaro’s new US trade commissioner job were shortlisted before it was readvertised

The NSW government shortlisted candidates for the job of US trade commissioner in May last year before readvertising the role and handing it to former deputy premier John Barilaro.

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Mr Barilaro was announced as NSW trade commissioner to the US on FridayInvestment NSW says the appointment did not have to go to cabinetEmails show a shortlist was created before the position was readvertised

On Friday it was announced Mr Barilaro, who resigned from parliament in October last year, would be the state’s trade commissioner for the US, based in New York.

Mr Barilaro had announced the creation of five NSW senior trade and investment commissioners (STIC) in November 2020, as the then trade minister.

A parliamentary inquiry is set to look into the decision to appoint him to the US role.

In a statement, an Investment NSW spokesperson said Mr Barilaro’s appointment “followed a lengthy and competitive global search process”.

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“Candidates were shortlisted and assessed on a range of measures including suitability for the role, qualifications, skills and experience,” the statement said.

“As with other recent STIC recruitment, this appointment was not required to go to cabinet for approval.”

But documents obtained by NSW Labor state that the appointments were supposed to be put to cabinet.

They also show the shortlist for the Americas role was sent to senior bureaucrats in May 2021, but while recruitment for other roles progressed, the New York job was readvertised at the end of the year.

According to the documents the salary for the various roles range from $450,000 to $600,000.

The advertising of three STIC roles, including the Americas position, cost $8,200, when they were first advertised in the Australian Financial Review in April 2021.

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Applications at that time were due to close on April 26 last year, and the recruitment firm NGS Global sent through their shortlist for the Americas role on May 17.

The shortlist was discussed in an email the next day, from secretary of treasury Michael Pratt to several colleagues including Investment NSW CEO Amy Brown.

“Firstly re Americas would rate (redacted) and (redacted) as highest on the panel,” Mr Pratt wrote.

“Both have international exposure (redacted) particularly relevant with his in-depth NY and markets exposure.”

Mr Pratt then went on to detail two more candidates who he rated less highly.

Another email from the HR department stated they aimed to have the New York role recruited by August.

A further email, about the recruitment of the Tokyo STIC, detailed that all roles “have a structured approval protocol process prior to employment”.

“The preferred candidate meets with the Treasurer, Deputy Premier and Premier,” HR Business Partner Evelina Polura wrote.

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“If endorsed by all three, a Cabinet appointment form is prepared and added as a Cabinet agenda item.

“Once endorsed by Cabinet, a contract can be offered to the candidate for negotiation.”

The email, dated April 6, 2021, explained the preferred candidate for the Tokyo position had met with and been endorsed by the treasurer and deputy premier — at the time Mr Barilaro — and was due to meet with the premier.

The appointment of the North Asia STIC was announced by Mr Barilaro in July, and the UK role in October.

Investment Minister Stuart Ayres announced the South-east Asia and Middle East STICS on December 16, but another ad for the Americas role was run in the Australian Financial Review on the next day, with applications due a month later.

 

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