John Barilaro inquiry canceled due to mental health reasons

John Barilaro inquiry canceled due to mental health reasons

John Barilaro’s second day of evidence to a parliamentary inquiry examining his appointment as US trade commissioner has been canceled after the former NSW deputy premier said he would be unable to attend due to mental health reasons.

The committee conducting the ongoing probe into his recruitment for the New York role received notice on Friday morning that Barilaro would not appear on Friday. However, he has indicated his intention to appear at a later date.

John Barilaro giving evidence to the inquiry on Monday.Credit:Kate Geraghty

Nationals MP and NSW Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor, who is a close friend of Barilaro, said he told her on Friday morning he was not up to attend while he sought help amid intense public scrutiny.

Taylor suggested Barilaro had not been treated fairly by the inquiry, which took three weeks to call him to give evidence.

“This constant, constant attention on him. Him waiting three weeks until he was able to give his side of a story at an inquiry. I say to you and I say to anyone out there, ‘How would that make you feel and how do you think you would manage with that?’ ” she said on Friday.

Barilaro was due to give a full day of evidence to the long-running upper house inquiry, which has been reviewing the public service recruitment that saw him appointed to the US trade role in June. He has since withdrawn from the role amid intense backlash over the process.

Committee chair and Greens MP Cate Faerhmann said she was informed about 8am on Friday that Barilaro could not attend due to ill health.

In his first day facing the upper house inquiry on Monday, Barilaro said he had endured a “personal hell” since his controversial appointment and wished he never applied for the trade commissioner role.

“If I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have walked into this shit show. I’m going to use those terms, I’m sorry to say because the trauma I’ve gone through over the last six, seven weeks has been significant,” he said.