John Barilaro told to grill girlfriend’s job at Investment NSW

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John Barilaro told to grill girlfriend’s job at Investment NSW

Former deputy prime minister John Barilaro has been told to prepare for a grilling about his girlfriend's job at Investment NSW later this week, as the saga continues into his appointment to a lucrative trade position.

Yesterday, Mr Barilaro faced a parliamentary inquiry into his appointment as the state's Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner to the Americas - a prestigious job based in New York, which he has since withdrawn from.

During his testimony yesterday, Mr Barilaro said he had spoken to Premier Dominic Perrottet, then-trade minister Stuart Ayres and Treasurer Matt Kean about how he wanted the $500,000 a-year role.

He told the inquiry that he recommended his former media advisor and girlfriend, Jennifer Lugsdin, for a role at Investment NSW last year.

Investment NSW was the government body charged with hiring for the New York job, as well as several similar positions around the globe.

Investment NSW CEO Amy Brown, who returned to the inquiry yesterday for a third time, said she remembered a call from Mr Barilaro in which he said Ms Lugsdin was looking for new opportunities.

She said Mr Barilaro didn't make any comments about his relationship with Ms Lugsdin and that she was awarded a contract with Investment NSW in August 2021.

Mr Barilaro told the inquiry he was not in a relationship with her while he was deputy prime minister, or in cabinet.

Ms Lugsdin had a warning of when the New York job was going to be advertised.

She was included in an email chain sent on December 9, which stated that Mr Ayres — who was trade minister at the time — was keen for the US role to be advertised this year. It was formally advertised on December 17.

When the hearings begin on Friday, Barilaro was told to prepare for questioning about Ms Lugsdin's employment.

Labor's Penny Sharpe told him at yesterday's hearing that the person you were in a relationship with was aware of the various processes associated with the advertising and nature of the US trade position.

Mr Barilaro said that Ms Lugsdin wasn't working at Investment NSW when he applied for the job in January 2022, as her short-term contract ended in December 2021.

After a separate review into the appointment last week, Mr Ayres resigned from his portfolios and leadership position.

Liberal MPs are going to decide who will be the party's new deputy leader.

Transport Minister David Elliott yesterday announced that he would not contest the position after a discussion with the Premier, who laid down his demand for unity. He said to me that he'd prefer not to have a ballot, he certainly didn't tell me to withdraw.

I think it is in Dominic Perrottet's best interests to have unity for the parliament over the course of the next eight months as we go to an election.

I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed. I've had to eat humble pie. I've had to say to the Premier, you're the boss. The resignation of Treasurer Matt Kean leaves him as the only declared candidate for the deputy position after he confirmed his intentions yesterday.

I'm going to be sticking my hand up and it's up to colleagues to decide whether or not I have the credentials to support our leader and to support our party at this time, Mr Kean said.

I welcome other candidates who put themselves forward. Kean also ruled out any leadership challenge to the Premier.

He said that he wants to go to an election where Dom Perrottet takes the Liberal Party and our strong, positive plan for the future up against Opposition Leader Chris Minns.