Dominic Perrottet and Stuart Ayres

Documents reveal senior NSW ministers knew Jenny West had been chosen for US trade job

Documents released to the NSW parliament have contradicted previous claims made by the Premier and Trade Minister about the US trade commissioner recruitment process.

The documents reveal briefing notes were sent to then-treasurer Dominic Perrottet, Trade Minister Stuart Ayres and former deputy premier John Barilaro and stated a successful candidate had been picked for the plum New York-based trade commissioner role last year.

The notes contradict previous claims by Mr Perrottet and Mr Ayres that they were told there wasn’t a suitable candidate identified in the first recruitment round.

Almost identical briefing notes were sent to all three ministers to notify them of the “outcome of the recruitment search for a STIC (Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner) Americas” in August 2021.

“Note the selection of Ms Jenny West as the successful candidate for the STIC—Americas,” the briefing note said.

Jenny West, a former senior bureaucrat within Investment NSW, was verbally offered the job in August last year but the offer was rescinded the following month after the government changed the recruitment process.

Jenny West told the inquiry she had been offered the job.(AAP: Bianca De Marchi)

Mr Barilaro successfully took a submission to cabinet to change the trade commissioner roles into ministerial appointments.

He successfully applied for the New York job after leaving politics in a second recruitment round.

However, last month he announced he would withdraw from the job, which comes with a $500,000 annual salary package, following intense scrutiny over the recruitment process.

The documents released to the parliament show neither Mr Barilaro nor Mr Perrottet signed the briefing note but Mr Ayres did.

An email chain between a staffer from Investment NSW, which was overseeing the recruitment process, and a staffer from the Treasurer’s office has also been released.

In the emails, it is acknowledged that Mr Perrottet’s office received the briefing note on August 13, 2021.

a man standing and looking
John Barilaro withdrew from the job after a political backlash.(AAP: James Gourley )

Two weeks ago, Mr Perrottet said he had no knowledge of the briefing note.

These documents were produced under a parliamentary order after the opposition accused the government of delaying the release of paperwork.

The Opposition worked with some crossbench members to recall the upper house on Friday, during winter break, because the paperwork hadn’t been handed over.

The government subsequently provided the documents last night.

It’s unclear whether parliament will still sit on Friday.

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