The NSW Prime Minister has approved the resignation of the senior official responsible for appointing former Deputy Prime Minister John Barilaro to a lucrative US job.
Department secretary and former NSW Investment boss Amy Brown has left public service with a payout of nearly $500,000 for her role in the job debacle that has left the government embroiled in scandal for three months.
An independent review of the hiring process found that Ms Brown had been indirectly influenced to choose Mr Barilaro for the job, despite a range of other well-qualified candidates.
Michael Coutts-Trotter, Prime Minister and Cabinet minister, said Monday that he had decided that Ms Brown would not remain as head of the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade.
“It is a privilege to fulfill a role as a senior leader in the public service of NSW. This rightly brings a high degree of responsibility,” he said.
Mrs. Brown had $614,000 and was entitled to 38 weeks of her salary plus entitlements – at least $450,000.
Commenting on her resignation for the first time, Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet said he endorsed the decision and said she was entitled to the payout.
“I certainly support the decision that has been made,” he told Sydney Radio 2GB on Tuesday.
“There are rights that come from those decisions.”
Earlier this year, an independent investigation was conducted into Mr. Barilaro’s nomination for the $500,000-a-year, taxpayer-funded trade job in the US.
It found that Ms. Brown had been indirectly influenced by former Secretary of Commerce Stuart Ayres’ preference for who would be given the New York-based role.
Mr Ayres resigned as minister last month after a draft excerpt from the review raised questions about whether he violated the ministerial code of conduct with his involvement in the nomination process.
The investigation found that the appointment of Mr. Barilaro was not kept at a distance from the government.
Mr Perrottet said the nomination process was “faulty from the outset” and ordered an independent legal review to determine whether Mr Ayres had violated the ministerial code.
The review, released last week, found that Mr Ayres had not broken the code, but he remains in the back seat.
The opposition said it would be unfair for Ms Brown to be the only person to take responsibility for the scandal and warned the prime minister not to send Ayres back to the front seat.
Mr Barilaro resigned from the trading job in June, just weeks after his appointment was announced, saying the role was untenable and had become a distraction.