Chief regional NSW bureaucrat quits

Secretary of the Department of Regional NSW, Gary Barnes, has announced he’s retiring from the public service.

Gary Barnes

The resignation comes after a 42-year career in the public service in Queensland, the Northern Territory and NSW, including leadership of the Department of Regional NSW since its creation in April 2020.

It also follows last weeks’ revelations at a parliamentary inquiry into the appointment of former NSW deputy John Barilaro to a senior trade post that Mr Barnes had been one of Mr Barilaro’s referees for the job.

Mr Barnes was also a witness last October at the ICAC inquiry into allegations surrounding former MP Daryl McGuire, where the bureaucrat gave evidence relating to a $5.5 million grant provided to the Wagga Wagga Clay Target Gun Club.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole thanked Mr Barnes for his decades of work as a public servant said he would now have an opportunity to spend more time with his extended family.

“Mr Barnes has devoted much of his life to working for our communities and seeing them emerge stronger from the challenges they’ve faced including floods, fires, drought and COVID,” Mr Toole said in a statement.

“As its inaugural Secretary, he has ensured the Department of Regional NSW has delivered on its promise to be a voice in government for people in the bush.

“He leaves the department in good shape and firmly focused on its mission to make the regions an even better place to live, work, play and invest.”

Rebecca Fox will act in the role of secretary as of today.

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