Reports allege ex-NSW minister Eleni Petinos met with Barilaro-linked developer

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A meeting between recently sacked NSW Minister for Small Business and Fair Trading, Eleni Petinos, and former Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, threaten to cause further headaches for the NSW government amid ongoing enquiries into Barilaro’s appointment to a lucrative US trade job.

According to new ministerial diaries published on Tuesday, Petinos met with representatives of Sydney-based development company, Coronation Property, on June 2 and 21, with Barilaro present for the latter meeting.

At the time, the company had been hit with a stop-work order at their $500 million development in Sydney’s western suburb of Merrylands.

On July 4, the stop-work order was lifted at the 790-apartment development.

An artist’s impression of the Coronation Property high-rise development at Merrylands

As recorded in Petinos’ diary, the June meetings were related to “fair trading building related matters”.

Mr Barilaro, who had been working with Coronation Property as an executive director since his resignation from politics in October 2021, said the function on June 21 was to celebrate his appointment as the state’s Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner (STIC) to the Americas.

He has since withdrawn from that appointment, with the recruitment process currently at the centre of a parliamentary inquiry.

“I attended a social engagement with the former minister to celebrate my appointment to the STIC Americas job,” Mr Barilaro told The Guardian.

“I was no longer an employee of Coronation. I did not meet with the minister during my time with Coronation.”

Petinos, who was sacked last month after accusations of bullying, maintains she had no involvement with the lifting of the stop-work order, and it was a decision made by the Office of the Building Commissioner.

“The issuing and revocation of stop-work orders is a matter for the Building Commissioner, not the minister,” she said in a statement.

An artist’s impression of the high-rise development containing 790 units at Merrylands

Petinos added the 21 June meeting with Barilaro was “social in nature” and was only disclosed as part of her ministerial diary “out of an abundance of caution”.

Yesterday, Premier Dominic Perrottet was pressed about the fresh revelations by Labor MP Sophie Cotsis in Parliament.

“Premier, what action will you take to investigate revelations … that John Barilaro met with the Minister for Fair Trading while representing his then employer, Coronation Group, after Mr Barilaro told the parliamentary inquiry yesterday that no such meeting occurred?” MP Cotsis asked.

Mr Perrottet responded that he would seek the “requisite advice”.

SOURCE: The Guardian

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