Private text messages revealed amid fallout from US trade appointment

“No, but utterly predictable,” Coutts-Trotter said.

Brown replied: “We should talk it through … Technically it was my decision”.

Text messages between Investment NSW boss Amy Brown and the state’s most senior public servant Michael Coutts-Trotter have been revealed.

Text messages between Investment NSW boss Amy Brown and the state’s most senior public servant Michael Coutts-Trotter have been revealed.Credit:Kate Geraghty / Supplied

Brown has consistently maintained she was the final decision-maker in appointing Barilaro. However, she also told the ongoing upper house inquiry then-trade minister Stuart Ayres did not remain at arm’s length from the process.

The premier has also conceded the recruitment process was “flawed”.

Other documents released on Wednesday include emails between Department of Premier and Cabinet staffers, which suggest Graham Head was required to hand over his report into the appointment to Coutts-Trotter by August 5.

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Details of the contract for the report were contained in the documents, revealing the full cost to the NSW taxpayer would be more than $80,000, plus any expenses.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet has been contacted for comment.

Perrottet on Tuesday said he expected to receive the final report shortly. He received a draft excerpt from the report last week, which raised concerns about whether Ayres breached the ministerial code of conduct. Ayres was subsequently forced to resign.

A further inquiry by high-profile barrister Bruce McClintock, SC, will be conducted to probe Ayres’ involvement. Ayres has denied any wrongdoing and maintained he remained at arm’s length from the public service process.

Perrottet on Tuesday conceded he would have asked Barilaro not to apply for the plum post if he had his time again, adding that it was clear “the process was flawed”.

“What has struck me during this period of time has been the problematic process that occurred,” he said.

Barilaro will give a second day of evidence to the parliamentary inquiry on Friday.

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