The Agent-General in London Stephen Cartwright had the lowest competency scores of shortlisted candidates for NSW’s trade commissioner roles but still went on to be appointed to the most highly paid position.
As the controversy into the appointment of John Barilaro to a New York trade role extends to the agent-general position, it has emerged that other candidates – including Barilaro – outperformed Cartwright when assessed by the independent recruiter NGS Global.
The new tranche of documents, produced to the upper house under a parliamentary order, includes a “diagnostic baseline” assessment of shortlisted candidates, which rated their competence against a range of criteria, including senior executive experience, commercial acumen and leadership skills.
The levels ranged from “requires development” to “highly competent”. Cartwright, who was a late entrant to the London-based role, did not receive a ranking above competent in any of the 16 areas.
In comparison, one of the candidates considered for the Americas position (which Barilaro ultimately secured) received the highest possible rating in nine of the areas, while former bureaucrat Jenny West, who was initially offered New York, was rated highly competent in five areas.
The appointment of Cartwright has come under scrutiny after it emerged he was a late entrant to the role, and then expected an $800,000 salary. He ultimately negotiated a $600,000 package that included expenses – higher than any other trade commissioner.
Marianne Broadbent, managing director of NGS Global, told the parliamentary inquiry into the New York and agent-general appointments on Thursday that she was asked by then-NSW treasury secretary Mike Pratt to “keep things open” to allow Cartwright to belatedly enter the race .
By that stage, a selection panel had already determined another candidate, Paul Webster, as the frontrunner, and salary negotiations with him had begun.
Broadbent said she later learned Cartwright had been encouraged to apply by Barilaro, who was then deputy premier, and Webster was later appointed to a more junior role under Cartwright.