Liberal deputy leader Natalie Ward says opposition will scrutinise appointment of Josh Murray after minister intervened to select him
The opposition has accused the New South Wales government of “breathtaking hypocrisy” after it appointed a former Labor staffer as the transport secretary following the intervention of the minister, Jo Haylen.
Haylen this week revealed she picked Josh Murray for the senior role heading the transport department. Murray worked as a Laing O’Rourke executive after serving as chief of staff to the former Labor premier Morris Iemma. Haylen’s office had intervened to have Murray added to a shortlist of candidates for the top job.
“The hypocrisy is breathtaking in this five-minute-old government,” the deputy Liberal leader, Natalie Ward, said on Friday morning.
Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup
She said the opposition would “use all means available to ensure that taxpayer money is properly spent” by the government.
“[Murray] has no qualifications administering transport or infrastructure and he clearly has been parachuted into this role,” Ward said.
Murray was announced in the role in June after a recruitment process led by the acting secretary of the premier’s department, Peter Duncan, “in consultation” with Haylen.
Before the appointment, Murray worked as the head of people at Laing O’Rourke, a large international engineering and construction company that handles major projects including some transport infrastructure.
The government press release from June also said Murray had “significant experience”, including “having worked in previous premier, deputy premier and ministerial offices, including in transport portfolios” from 2001 until 2008.
Speaking on 2GB yesterday, Haylen said she had asked for Murray to be added to the list of candidates because she believed he was the “right person for the job”.
She then chose him from the final two candidates put forward by a recruitment panel.
“I got my preferred candidate,” she said.
She confirmed her office added names for the panel to consider and interview.
Under the Public Sector Act, it is within the minister’s powers to choose a department head.
Sign up to Guardian Australia’s Morning Mail
Our Australian morning briefing email breaks down the key national and international stories of the day and why they matter
after newsletter promotion
The treasurer, Daniel Mookey, said this was a key difference between Murray’s appointment and the selection of John Barilaro for a lucrative trade job under the previous government that Labor, the then opposition, campaigned against.
“That job has always been an appointment that is made by the premier and the minister and that is what’s happened here,” he said on Friday morning.
“The transport minister has made it clear she needs to make sure that she has a transport secretary she will work with.
“That is consistent with how leaders and government departments have been appointed by both sides of politics going back a long time.”
Barilaro was last year appointed into a highly-paid trade position in New York that a parliamentary inquiry later found was the result of a “flawed” process that showed “all the trademarks of a ‘job for the boys’ position”.
Murray and Haylen have been contacted for comment.


%d bloggers like this: