The Transport for NSW secretary says he did not tell recruiters about almost $1,500 in donations to Labor party fundraisers because they were “not material”, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.
- Josh Murray was hired as transport secretary earlier this month
- He was hired to the $600k-a-year role despite an external recruiter finding he was underqualified
- He has made several donations to the Transport Minister and the Labor Party in the past
Former Labor staffer Josh Murray has given evidence to a New South Wales upper house inquiry into his recruitment, which the Opposition has called a “jobs for the boys” appointment.
Transport Minister Jo Haylen chose Mr Murray for the almost $600,000-a-year transport secretary role, despite an external recruiter deciding he should not be progressed to an interview, and was a “significant risk”.
Documents tabled in parliament revealed Ms Haylen was aware Mr Murray and his wife had made $750 worth of donations during Ms Haylen’s election campaign.
These donations were in the form of fundraiser tickets.
Murray grilled by Latham at inquiry
Mr Murray told the hearing he and his wife had actually donated about $1,450 to Labor party fundraisers, including $500 for tickets to a former premiers’ dinner and $200 for tickets to a trivia night at Parliament House.
Under questioning from independent MLC Mark Latham, Mr Murray said he did not declare his or his wife’s donations in the recruitment process.
“I was not a public servant, I was a private citizen,” Mr Murray said.
“Ethically, isn’t this just unacceptable and you should resign?” Mr Latham asked.
“I’ve covered all of the elements that are required of me in the electoral act,” Mr Murray said.
“I went through a publicly advertised recruitment process and those matters were not material.”
“You think that,” Mr Latham retorted.
He also told the inquiry he did not discuss the job with Ms Haylen or Premier Chris Minns, despite having known the premier for about 20 years.
He said a meeting on April 4 with Ms Haylen was purely to discuss the challenges in the transport sector.
“I was the representative of one of the largest privately owned infrastructure businesses in the world and I was asked to give a view and I was more than happy to do that,” he said.
Mr Murray defended his experience in the private sector and said he had taken a pay cut for the Transport for NSW secretary role.
Haylen calls inquiry a ‘stunt’
Earlier on Thursday at a press conference Ms Haylen said it was “ridiculous” to assert that a “couple of tickets to a dinner” would influence her to appoint Mr Murray to one of the most important positions in the state.
She also defended her decision not to front the inquiry, labelling it a “Liberal party stunt”.
She said it was not convention for lower house MPs to appear at upper house inquiries, even though Planning Minister Paul Scully did so in June.
“Paul Scully attended a committee inquiry into legislation, as the minister he made the decision to attend that inquiry, that is his choice,” Ms Haylen said.
“As members of the lower house were are responsible to that chamber but ultimately, I’m responsible to the travelling public. I not answerable to the upper house or Liberal Party stunts.”
Liberal frontbencher Matt Kean accused Labor of hypocrisy after it called for former Perrottet government ministers to front upper house inquiry when the party was in opposition.
“Last year they were calling on Coalition ministers to front inquiries to address issues, so what’s changed? Why have they changed their position? If they’ve got nothing to hide then they should turn up and answer the questions the public has every right to know,” Mr Kean said.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-08-31/josh-murray-tells-inquiry-he-donated-1500-to-labor-party/102797900 Josh Murray tells parliamentary inquiry he didn’t need to tell recruiter about $1,500 Labor donations