Brown now provides evidence of the second-round recruitment process for the New York trading post, which took place earlier this year and John Barilaro was appointed to the $500,000-a-year position.
(For context, documents released Monday show the former Deputy Prime Minister did not receive the highest interview score among the final candidates and was proposed for the “talent pool” rather than the coveted position when a selection panel drafted its report on March 25. But the final report detailing Barilaro’s eligibility was significantly amended on June 15 to bolster his credentials – after he had already signed a contract on June 9.)
That’s what Brown is talking about now. She said the March 25 selection committee’s report was “mistakenly sent to me”.
“Well, it was sent to me intentionally on March 25, but it didn’t happen… In my opinion, it didn’t properly reflect the content of the discussions.”
Brown said the recruitment agency, NGS Global, made a “number of mistakes” and that she sincerely believed the appraisal report was incorrect in its portrayal of Barilaro or the top-ranked female candidate.
“We left the room while we were working on the recruiting panel. And we said, we’re not quite sure which candidate would be the best fit for the role. Let’s go, do some deliberation and some informal checks. We’ll wait for the official referee reports to come in, and then we’ll move on,” she said.
“I never asked them to send me a report. For me it came out of nowhere.”
According to published emails, Kylie Bell, senior Investment NSW officer, emailed the recruitment agency and said she had “find a few informal referees for the candidates, which I will share with the group as they are likely to change things”.
Commission: If you come back saying “I had another conversation that might change things,” what were you referring to?
Brown: I was certainly referring to Secretary Ayres and Kylie Bell, who are more connected to this space.
Commission: Did you say Ayres was an informal reference for Mr Barilaro?
Brown: Sorry, I’m taking a step back. The informal referees were sense checking that we did with people who had worked in the commercial investment space and were able to comment on the candidate.