New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell is being accused of hypocrisy for appointing a lobbyist to the state Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, O’Farrell broke his own rule against lobbyists by approving the appointment of Brian Ross, a lobbyist for the Australian Hotels Association, to the agency that oversees the liquor and gambling sectors.
Hotels in the state are allowed 30 gaming machines each. There are an estimated 1,659 hotels and 1,282 clubs with slot machines in New South Wales.
Ross has since resigned from the A$55,000-a-year state position because of health reasons, only eight days into a three-year term.
NSW opposition leader John Robertson said they would request the Independent Commission Against Corruption investigate O’Farrell’s decision. Of Ross, O’Farrell said he “did not know he was still retained by the AHA.”
SMH reports that Ross has known O’Farrell for 20 years and has often been to Parliament House in the role of lobbyist.
Changes to the government’s lobbyist code of conduct, made by O’Farrell, prohibit lobbyists from serving on boards and committees that relate to their efforts of the previous 12 months.
Ross said he ended his working relationship with the hotels association after the cabinet approved his appointment.
However, the former state chief executive of the Australian Hotels Association was still on that group’s payroll as a lobbyist when he and current AHA President Scott Leach met with O’Farrell in June, according to Robertson.
Ross applied for the state position only four days after that meeting.