Stuart Ayres, the Deputy Leader of the NSW Parliamentary Liberal Party, Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade, Minister for Tourism and Sport, and Minister for Western Sydney, has informed NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet that he will resign as Minister and Deeputy Leader following an independent investigation into the appointment of John Barilaro, Former Deputy Premier of NSW, to a New York trade position.
Ayres’s resignation follows the briefing on the draft report received by Perrottet into the Barilaro case that raised ‘a question as to whether Mr Ayres has complied with the NSW Ministerial Code of Conduct’.
‘His intention to resign follows a briefing I received from Department of Premier and Cabinet Secretary Mr Michael Coutts-Trotter, which I subsequently discussed with Mr Ayres, on parts of the draft report prepared by Mr Graeme Head AO that relate to Mr Ayres,’ said Perrottet in a statement this morning.
The documents released to a parliamentary inquiry into the appointment of Barilaro to the $500,000 a year NY trade role appear to contradict the public statements in relation to the appointment.
‘Mr Head’s review has been conducted under section 83 of the Government Sector Employment Act 2013. This section empowers Mr Head to review matters relating to the administration of government agencies. Mr Head’s review does not extend to whether Mr Ayres has complied with the Ministerial Code of Conduct,’ said Perrotttet.
‘A further review will therefore be undertaken to determine if Mr Ayres has complied with the Code. I have asked Mr Coutts-Trotter to ensure this is carried out in an appropriate manner.’
Mr Ayres has denied any wrongdoing stating ‘In my view, no such breach has occurred. However, I agree it is important that this matter is investigated appropriately and support the Premier’s decision to do so.
‘I have always applied the highest levels of integrity in my conduct as a Minister.
‘To maintain the integrity of the Cabinet, I have decided to resign as a Minister to allow the investigation to be completed. Accordingly, I will also be resigning as the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party,’ he said.
‘I believe I have always acted in accordance with the Ministerial Code of Conduct and in the best interests of the people of NSW. I will continue to serve my community as the passionate Member for Penrith.’