NSW staff "rort" alleged
The NSW transport minister says she will not resign despite unfolding staffing issues.
Kieren Ash, a Transport for NSW bureaucrat, is under investigation for potentially engaging in political work while serving as a departmental liaison officer (DLO), an apolitical role.
Mr Ash is alleged to have compiled a list of Coalition policy reversals and assisted in organising a Labor celebration event.
Jo Haylen, the Transport Minister of New South Wales, has admitted that there may have been a blurred line between political and departmental work in her office.
She told an estimates hearing this week that she knew Mr Ash long before his appointment to her office, and although she takes responsibility for his actions, she stated that she would not resign if he was found to have violated the rules.
Her office has also been accused of unlawfully interfering in the appointment of departmental staff, allegedly breaching rules designed to keep the public service at arm’s length from the government.
Her chief of staff, Scott Gartrell, resigned on Friday, and Haylen acknowledged the need to ‘reset’ her office.
She admitted that in her haste to establish the office, her team requested specific public servants as DLOs, which may have led to a blurring of the lines. She assured that her office would no longer request specific bureaucrats to work as DLOs.
Premier Chris Minns has reiterated his support for Minister Haylen, stating that he did not want her to resign, despite acknowledging that improvements could be made regarding personal staff.
The opposition is demanding Haylen's resignation, describing the situation as “staffer rorts 101”.
They argue that her office's actions are a breach of the ministerial code, and that the investigation into Mr Ash should be conducted by the NSW Public Service Commissioner Kathrina Lo.
In August, Haylen faced criticism for appointing Josh Murray, a former Labor staffer, to the Transport for NSW secretary role, despite concerns about his qualifications.
The controversy has raised questions about Haylen's knowledge and involvement in the staffing decisions within her office, as she faces allegations of being distracted by internal issues rather than focusing on the transport challenges facing the state.