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No bite out of the Big Apple for Barilaro as New York post cancelled

Politics

Former NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro will not take up a taxpayer-funded trade role based in New York, saying media scrutiny made his appointment untenable.

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Barilaro on Thursday announced he would withdraw as the state’s Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner to the Americas.

It came after two weeks of fevered debate over his appointment, which saw two inquiries launched to examine the process.

“It is clear that my taking up this role is now not tenable with the amount of media attention this appointment has gained,” Barilaro said.

“I believe my appointment will continue to be a distraction and not allow this important role to achieve what it was designed to do, and thus my decision.

“I stress, that I have always maintained that I followed the process and look forward to the results of the review.”

CEO of Investment NSW, Amy Brown, said she had been notified Barilaro would pull out of the $500,000 a year role.

“This evening Mr John Barilaro notified me that he is withdrawing from the role of Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner Americas, effective immediately,” Brown said in a statement on Thursday.

Investment NSW would continue to assist the inquiries probing the appointment, she said.

Brown’s statement followed her appearance at an upper house inquiry into the appointment, which revealed the job came with a $487,000 salary plus a $16,000 allowance.

Barilaro was due to start work in the Manhattan office on July 12, with nearly $1 million spent refurbishing part of the Australian consulate in New York.

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns criticised Premier Dominic Perrottet for failing to move against Barilaro.

“It’s telling that the premier didn’t sack John Barilaro, he walked,” Minns said in a statement.

“Mr Barilaro should never have been appointed to this job in the first place.

“Serious concerns remain about how he got the job and the parliamentary inquiry will continue to pursue those.”

Greens MP and Chair of the Public Accountability Committee Cate Faehrmann, currently scrutinising Barilaro’s appointment, said the withdrawal will not halt the inquiry.

“John Barilaro may have just announced he won’t be taking up the NY post after intense public pressure but that won’t stop the Public Accountability Committee getting to the bottom of what exactly went down within government with this role,” Faehrmann wrote on Twitter.

Barilaro had faced criticism from former colleagues before his announcement, including Police Minister David Elliott, who called on him to resign.

“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,” Elliott told Sky News on Thursday.

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