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Joseph Brookes

Former Investment NSW CEO Amy Brown sacked

Amy Brown, the inaugural boss of Investment NSW embroiled in the controversial appointment of John Barilaro to a plum US trade job, has been sacked. The head of the New South Wales public service said on Monday that Ms Brown would no longer be employed by the government.

Ms Brown had failed to act in accordance with the Code of Ethics and Conduct for government sector employees in appointing the former deputy premier to the New York based trade job, according to an independent report into the incident.

The report recommended action against Ms Brown, who had been on leave and has already given up the Investment NSW chief executive role but retained the higher position of secretary of the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade.

Former Investment NSW CEO and secretary of the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade, Amy Brown

The secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Michael Coutts-Trotter, on Monday morning issued a statement saying Ms Brown would no longer be employed by the government.

“It’s a privilege to hold a role as a senior leader in the NSW public service,” Mr Coutts-Trotter said.

“With this, rightly, comes a high degree of accountability. I acknowledge that dealing with the events of recent months, and doing so under such intense public scrutiny, has weighed heavily on Ms Brown.

“I want to thank her for her service.”

In a LinkedIn post made shortly before the statement, Ms Brown said after a decade in the state public service her “tenure has come to an end” and Monday would be her last day.

“As the CEO and Department secretary, I have learned that leadership can, at times, be difficult,” she wrote. “Courageous leadership is not always comfortable. But it is a necessary part of how the public service performs its professional role in support of responsible government.”

Ms Brown said she will return to the private sector and expects to make an announcement on where soon.

Ms Brown was promoted to head of the new trade and investment department established by the Perrottet government early this year, after leading the business agency Investment NSW since it was established in 2021 by the Berejiklian government.

She retained both roles until giving up the Investment NSW job and taking leave in the wake of the John Barilaro appointment scandal.

An independent review of the incident found the appointment of the former deputy premier was not conducted at “arm’s length” from a senior minister, and criticised Ms Brown’s role in the process, recommending the Department of Premier and Cabinet consider action against her.

The review, launched after accusations of jobs for mates, found the appointment of Mr Barilaro as a senior trade and investment commissioner to the Americas had not met public expectations of a merit based selection.

Ms Brown convened the selection panels for the recruitment processes. She was criticised in the review for unintentionally misleading ministers on suitable candidates and failing to adhere to the Code of Ethics and Conduct for government employees.

This included involving the minister for Trade in discussions about a candidate shortlist and the suitability of Mr Barilaro while the selection process was underway. Ms Brown then concluded contract negotiations with Mr Barilaro without the selection panel having determined its final assessment of candidates, according to the review.

Mr Coutts-Trotter said he had carefully considered the review and on Monday issued a statement saying he had consulted with MS Brown and decided that “she will not continue to hold office as Secretary of [Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade]”.

Current chief executive of the Greater Cities Commission Elizabeth Mildwater has been appointed acting secretary of the department for at least the next month.

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