Amy Brown has stepped down from her role leading Investment NSW after being criticised for her part in the controversial appointment of John Barilaro to a plum trade role.
Ms Brown has voluntarily given up the Investment NSW chief executive role but will remain secretary of the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade which oversees the agency.
She had held both positions since January when she was promoted to lead the Perrottet government’s new department in recognition of her performance at Investment NSW.
An Investment NSW spokesperson said Ms Brown had not resigned but had decided to separate the roles and step back from one due to “the scale and significant nature of the work involved in both positions”.
“These roles have been separated to allow the Secretary to focus on a cluster leadership role and an Investment NSW CEO to focus on the core activities of investment attraction,” the spokesperson told InnovationAus.com.
It was Ms Brown’s decision to separate the roles, according to the spokesperson, who said the decision was made on August 11.
According to this timeline, the decision was made one day before an independent review was finalised of John Barilaro’s appointment to a US trade post.
The review, dated August 12, 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.
These actions were being considered by the department when the review was released on August 16 and still remain a possibility, but the process has been paused while Ms Brown is on leave for four weeks.
News of Ms Brown’s departure from Investment NSW was first reported by the Australian Financial Review on Tuesday, with the newspaper obtaining a draft internal memo to staff.
“As some of you know, I am on scheduled leave this week, but I wanted to briefly update you on a change to my role with Enterprise, Investment and Trade,” the leaked memo reportedly reads.
“The events of the past eight weeks, including a review commissioned by the Department of Premier and Cabinet and a NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into the recruitment process for the senior trade and investment commissioner to the Americas have reinforced the need for me to focus my full attention on my role as secretary.
“Given that, I have made the decision that I can best serve the needs of our state by separating my dual roles as chief executive officer of Investment NSW and secretary of Enterprise, Investment and Trade.”
Ms Brown was due to appear before a New South Wales Budget Estimates committee next week. She is still on leave, with Lisa Braid performing the role of acting secretary and Katie Knight as interim chief executive officer of Investment NSW.
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