NSW Secretary of Commerce Stuart Ayres has gone on the radio trying to defend his role in the nomination of John Barilaro for a lucrative $500,000 post in New York.
Ayres has come under closer scrutiny in recent days after a cache of internal documents revealed that he and department chief Amy Brown helped prepare a list of candidates.
The Commerce Secretary told 2GB that only one person within his own party had asked him to step aside after the revelations and said he had the “full support” of NSW Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet.
“He really supported me throughout this exercise,” he said.
As previously reported, documents have revealed that Ayres sent Barilaro an advertisement about the trading position he was subsequently appointed to. But the Commerce Secretary has insisted he has told the former NSW Deputy Prime Minister to apply as a private person.
This morning, Ayres said that if he could go back in time, he would tell Barilaro that it would be too politically sensitive for him to apply for the role.
“I would love to be able to go back and say to him, you probably shouldn’t do this, but it would still be his call and he still, no matter what happened, [he] should be given the right to apply for a position that is available to everyone in the community,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ayres said he is confident that the ongoing parliamentary inquiry into the matter will show that he acted in the “interest of the public”.
He added that it was not Barilaro’s decision to create the $500,000 trading post in New York. Instead, he said the state government decided it wanted to form the role “a long time ago.”
“I have just been on a trade mission and have seen the full benefits of having good quality people in these roles. But when John Barilaro decided he would leave parliament, he was a private individual.
“He could apply for a job. It wouldn’t be a political decision.”
When asked if he believed he would survive the controversy, Ayres said he was adamant that he had acted in good faith throughout the process.
“I am convinced that I have always acted in the interest of the public.”