Stuart Ayres cleared of any wrongdoing 

BACK on August 3, Stuart Ayres MP resigned from both Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and his Ministerial positions. It followed an independent inquiry into the controversial appointment of former Deputy Premier John Barilaro to a plum New York trade job.  

Premier Dom Perrottet held a press conference saying that part of that inquiry had raised a concern as to whether Mr Ayres had complied with the Ministerial Code of Conduct. Addressing that concern fell outside the terms of reference of the Head review. 

An investigation was undertaken by Barrister Bruce McClintock, a former ICAC Inspector into whether there were any breaches by Mr Ayres.  

That investigation has now been completed and it was found Mr Ayres had not breached the Code of Conduct. 

Premier Dominic Perrottet released a statement a few days after the report was made available to him: 

“On Tuesday, 9 August a recommendation was made to the Governor for Mr Bruce McClintock SC to conduct an independent legal review into whether the Member for Penrith, Stuart Ayres, had complied with the Ministerial Code of Conduct in relation to the appointment of the Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner to the Americas.

Mr McClintock found that Mr Ayres complied with his obligations under the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

The McClintock Review is available, in full, on the Department of Premier and Cabinet website.”

Mr Ayres, who had been assuring the electorate all along that that he did not believe there would be any breaches revealed, released his own statement shortly afterwards:

“I welcome the public release of the report by Mr Bruce McClintock SC into my conduct as a Minister. 

The report is unequivocally clear that I acted in accordance with the Ministerial Code of Conduct. 

It makes clear that I acted lawfully, honestly and had no conflict of interest. 

As the Premier described it to me after I was presented with a copy of the report “it is an emphatic exoneration”. 

I have said consistently that I acted in accordance with the Ministerial Code of Conduct and that the recruitment decision was made by the public service in accordance with the law. That position has been clearly supported by both reviews conducted by Mr Head and Mr McClintock. 

Mr McClintock also makes clear in paragraphs 15-17 that the public service was independent of me and under no special duty or obligation to appoint Mr Barilaro. He goes on to say:

“There is nothing in Mr Head’s report, nor in the documents produced by Investment New South Wales or Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade which I have inspected that suggests that the decision to appoint Mr Barilaro was not genuinely a decision made by Ms Brown…”

I have always acted honestly and with integrity in my service to the public of NSW. 

I would like to thank the many people of Penrith who have stood by me during this difficult period. Your unwavering support is truly appreciated and will never be forgotten.”

Mr Perrottet has not reinstated Mr Ayres to his former Cabinet positions. 

When asked by Nepean News, the response from the Premier was that he had made no decisions as yet.