In Sydney, footage had just emerged of Barilaro involved in an altercation with a cameraman outside a Manly bar. Barilaro, who now lives on the northern beaches close to his new partner and former media adviser Jennifer Lugsdin, was quick to phone 2GB radio station to ‘break his silence’ and lament the intrusion into his life. private.
But Barilaro is far from the only problem for Perrottet. Ayres, who replaced Barilaro as trade minister, is under increasing pressure to convince his colleagues that his fingerprints are not on Barilaro’s nomination.
Ayres has always maintained that Barilaro was appointed on merit after going through a thorough application process run by the civil service. Ayres insists the recruitment was done at arm’s length from the government, ensuring there was no undue influence. Mind you, this was after a successful candidate for the New York role had already been cast but dropped without explanation.
A glaring problem for Ayres is the existence of documents showing he was at times closely involved in the so-called independent process, from signing memoirs to having catch-up conversations with candidates before until final decisions are made. He was also tasked with changing a Cabinet decision to cancel executive-appointed trade commissioner positions.
Barilaro, in his last cabinet meeting before resigning from the ministry, proposed that trade commissioners be appointed by ministers. Most of his colleagues agreed with his idea. But a few days later, the government received a blow with the shock resignation of Gladys Berejiklian. Ayres replaced Barilaro as trade minister and he had different ideas.
The saga has dragged on for almost six weeks and is only getting bigger. Perrottet is now so frustrated that he has begun to suggest that we all stop asking questions until the independent investigation he commissioned is finalized. Perrottet bases his hopes on this investigation, led by the former Civil Service Commissioner Graeme Head, ending the whole sad saga. But the damage is largely done. Government will struggle to shake perception of jobs for boys
Perrottet and Ayres are expected to feature NSW in India when they arrive together in the subcontinent. But no one will notice. The Barilaro roadshow will continue. And Ayres, who has largely kept his head down since quietly announcing Barilaro’s appointment, will be front and center. For all the wrong reasons.
Alexandra Smith is traveling with the Prime Minister’s trade mission.