Barilaro has questions to answer on neo-Nazi scandal

In Parliament | 17.04.19

The NSW Labor Opposition today called on Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, to explain his role in the scandal that has seen two people with links to the neo-Nazi infiltration of the Young Nationals appointed to plum ministerial jobs.

Labor is referring to separate appointments in his own office and that of his colleague, Water Minister, Melinda Pavey. The posts are Director of Strategy to the Deputy Premier, Jock Sowter, and Jeffrey McCormack as Chief of Staff to Ms Pavey.

Members of neo-nazi and far-right hate groups were recruited to the Young Nationals and were used to “stack” the 2018 NSW Young Nationals conference in Lismore where Mr Sowter was elected President.

Both Mr McCormack and Mr Sowter were named in NSW Parliament in October 2018. At the time, the then Deputy-Leader of the Nationals Niall Blair took a strong stand and said there was “no room” for people with neo-Nazi views in The Nationals.

In addition to hiring Mr Sowter, as Leader of the NSW Nationals and Deputy Premier Mr Barilaro has a say over senior staffing appointments in Nationals ministerial offices.

Mr Barilaro must answer the following questions:

  1. Will he release the details of the Nationals’ investigations into the neo-Nazi infiltration of the Young Nationals, and if not, why not?
  2. Why did he instruct Ms Pavey to appoint Mr McCormack as her Chief of Staff? Was the Premier or her office involved in the decision to appoint Mr McCormack and Mr Sowter?
  3. Why was Mr McCormack appointed Chief of Staff to the Water Minister given he has little to no experience in water policy?
  4. Has Mr Barilaro sought or received personal assurances from Mr McCormack and Mr Sowter that they do not have links to far right groups?
  5. Will he step down if it is shown that either Mr Sowter or Mr McCormack were involved with far right or neo-Nazi groups?