A highly-paid government bureaucrat who stripped her co-worker of a plum $500,000 job in favour of John Barilaro bases her management style on ‘what Jesus would do’.
Investment NSW CEO and trade secretary Amy Brown told a parliamentary inquiry on Wednesday that she revoked a verbal job offer for the coveted $500,000-a-year New York-based post promoting NSW in New York in September last year.
The three-year contract was then offered to then-deputy secretary Jenny West, before former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro, Ms Brown’s boss at the time, changed the recruitment requirements.
NSW trade secretary Amy Brown (above) said she models her management style after Jesus’s leadership after she retracted a dream New York job offer for her colleague Jenny West
The job was later offered to Mr Barilaro, with the former deputy premier due to start the coveted role in just two weeks, despite widespread outrage at his appointment.
Ms Brown, who was thrown into the spotlight this month over her role in the controversial New York job, gave an extensive interview in February about how her faith inspires her management of 6000 employees.
‘What would Jesus do if he were me in these life circumstances, in this job, with this issue before me and serving the people that I lead?,’ Ms Brown told Eternity News, an online Christian magazine.
‘He showed up for the people when they needed him and he really put every person at the centre.’
A parliamentary inquiry (above) sat for the first time on Wednesday to investigate the retraction of Ms West’s job offer and the new candidate’s selection, John Barilaro
Ms Brown said God offered her a sense of relief in her ‘exhausting’ job because her actions are part of his ‘plan’.
‘It started to dawn on me how exhausting it is to have to live that way, where every single outcome depends on you,’ she said.
‘If you don’t perform to the highest standard at that meeting or if you’re not in the right place at the right time… that is a really exhausting way to live.
‘Having kids gives you that perspective and you don’t have time to be able to be everywhere and do everything and so you have to let go and let God.’
Ms Brown said she tried to lead by thinking of ‘the good of your people’.
‘I think God really speaks through the leadership of Christians in that servant leadership mentality,’ Ms Brown told Eternity News.
‘You put the good of your people at the heart of the way you lead and what you do and the decisions you make.’
Jenny West (pictured), then the deputy secretary of Investment NSW, was told in August last year that she was selected for a $500,000 trade post job in New York
Ms West’s dream job in New York City was taken from her – leaving her upset
Ms Brown joined the NSW public service’s ‘Club 600’ in 2022 – with a pay rise seeing her collect $614,000 a year on the taxpayer to run the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade.
Ms Brown’s revocation of Ms West’s job and selection of Mr Barilaro is now the subject of a parliamentary inquest, which sat for the first time on Wednesday.
Ms Brown told the inquiry that Ms West had been ‘extremely upset’ when her dream job offer was revoked which led to an ‘irreconcilable’ relationship with Investment NSW.
Ms West is no longer working with government and was given an undisclosed payout after three years of public service.
Then-NSW trade minister John Barilaro (above) changed the job’s recruitment process after Ms West had been offered the positions and went on to be offered the job himself in May this year
Ms West was offered the New York job boasting a $487,000 salary plus a $16,000 cost of living allowance in August 2021.
Mr Barilaro, who created the job along with four other similar roles in 2020, changed the recruitment process for the position in September.
Ms Brown said Ms West had been ‘extremely upset’ about the job offer retraction during a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday (above)
Ms West’s job offer was revoked on October 1 and the position was given to Mr Barilaro in May 2022.
Ms Brown told the inquiry she had voiced concerns that Mr Barilaro would veto her nominated candidate for the New York job and claimed she did not know if Mr Barilaro ever asked his replacement as NSW trade minister, Stuart Ayres, for the job.
However, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has insisted Ms Brown was the final decision maker for the role.
Mr Barilaro signed a three-month contract for the job in June and is due to begin his role in New York in July.
Mr Barilaro (above) was offered the New York job Ms West was previously offered after changing the recruitment process
Nearly $1million has already been spent refurbishing part of the Australian consulate in New York for him to live in.
Labor said the trade commissioner job is important and wants Mr Barilaro removed from the position.
‘Every taxpayer needs to know whether this is value for money and whether we’re sending the best person to New York,’ Labor’s upper house leader Penny Sharpe said.
If Mr Barilaro is removed from the position during its six-month probationary period, he will be owed a week’s salary, whereas after probation he would be owed payment for the full three-year contract.
NSW Transport Minister David Elliott (above) said Mr Barilaro should be removed from the position because ‘when you become the story over an appointment then the appointment might not be in the best interests of the people’
Mr Perrottet established a private inquiry into Mr Barilaro’s selection, separate to the parliamentary inquiry.
‘I will look at the recommendations and any action that needs to be taken I will,’ he said on Tuesday.
NSW Transport Minister David Elliott also called for Mr Barilaro to step aside from the position during an interview with Sky News on Thursday morning.
‘I’d expect him to withdraw and do the honourable thing because quite clearly when you become the story over an appointment then the appointment might not be in the best interests of the people of NSW,’ he said.
How John Barilaro secured the New York trading post job
Last year, Ms Brown was tasked with selecting a candidate for the taxpayer-funded New York trade ambassador job.
At that time she worked under John Barilaro, who was the acting NSW trade minister.
The job was highly sought-after as it boasted a $487,000 salary plus a $16,000 cost of living allowance.
It was created alongside four other similar jobs by Mr Barilaro in November 2020.
Ms West, then the deputy secretary of Investment NSW, was told she had won the coveted New York job in August, 2021, after beating three other candidates.
However, Mr Barilaro requested a change to the job’s recruitment process in late September which required it to be signed off by state cabinet, which has not yet happened.
Mr Barilaro’s changed process led to the verbal job offer to Ms West being withdrawn on October 1.
Speaking at the inquiry on Wednesday, Ms Brown said Ms West was ‘extremely upset about that, understandably so,’ when she was told her job offer was retracted.
She said Ms West’s relationship with Investment NSW became ‘irreconcilable’ after the retraction.
Ms West left her deputy secretary position last year with an undisclosed payout.
Mr Barilaro was offered the New York job in May this year after resigning as an MP on October 4.
He signed a three-month contract for the job in June and is due to begin his role in New York in July.
Nearly $1million has already been spent refurbishing part of the Australian consulate in New York for Mr Barilaro to live in.
Ms Brown said she was concerned her candidate for the job would be vetoed by Mr Barilaro.
She also told the inquiry she did not know if Mr Barilaro ever asked his replacement as NSW trade minister, Stuart Ayres, for the job.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said Ms Brown was the final decision maker for the job’s hiring process.