Josh Murray’s controversial appointment as the NSW Transport Secretary has taken another hit with the release of documents showing he made a donation to the state’s transport minister before he landed the plum job.
Details revealed in parliament show that Murray donated $500 to Jo Haylen’s election campaign about five months before Premier Chris Minns appointed her as Transport Minister on September 29, 2022.
According to another report, a second person linked to him, understood to be Murray’s wife, also donated $250 on October 13 last year.
The details were revealed in documents released to parliament of Haylen’s talking points surrounding Murray’s appointment, sent between the office of the Minister and the Premier.
Asked if he had “made any donations to your campaign?” the accompanying answer states: “Yes, but they were of a non-declarable value,” before the figures are listed as “donations we know of”.
The documents also showed a ready-made answer if Haylen was quizzed over whether the appointment was a “job for the boys”.
“No,” the listed answer read. “This appointment comes following a market testing process in which he was put forward as one of the preferred candidates for the Minister to choose from.
“Josh is a highly qualified leader with extensive executive experience. As Group Leader of People at Laing O’Rourke, he’s really well placed to deliver on priorities as Minister which include re-engaging our workforce and building a system that they are proud to run”.
During a 2GB radio interview on Tuesday, August 29, Haylen said she’d done nothing wrong and wouldn’t be resigning over the scandal.
“What we’re talking about is a ticket to a fundraising event, six months before the election,” she said.
“To say I would give a very important senior public service job to someone who gave a $500 donation is completely absurd. That beggars belief.”
An upper house inquiry into Murray’s appointment is set to start on Thursday, August 31.
Although the Premier has maintained the correct processes have been maintained, he conceded on Monday that a $125,000 external recruitment process was unnecessary.
“Well given that Murray was appointed to the job, obviously we wanted to make sure that we don’t spend that money when we don’t need to,” he said on 2GB.
“In retrospect it wasn’t required, that’s correct.
“If you know who you want for the position we want to make sure we’re in a position where we can appoint those senior public servants for those difficult jobs.”
Opposition spokesperson for transport Natalie Ward questioned whether Haylen appropriately declared potential conflict of interests during Murray’s recruitment process, and any related correspondence between the Premier and his office during this time.
“The production of these documents will establish whether a conflict of interest was declared as required under the Ministerial Code of Conduct and if it was appropriately managed,” she said.
“If appropriate steps were taken these documents should be easy to produce.”