Nationals Minister appoints former Nationals Minister to replace former Nationals Minister on tourism board - 'jobs for mates' culture remains

In Parliament | 16.04.18

In a classic case of ‘jobs for mates’, National Party Tourism Minister Adam Marshall today announced the appointment of former National Party Minister George Souris to the Board of Destination NSW – replacing former National Party Minister Wendy Machin in the role, who was in turn appointed by Mr Souris in 2011.

The NSW Opposition has lashed the appointment for the appearance it brings of an ongoing culture of nepotism, especially given Mr Souris was appointed by the Government just four months ago to another board, at Racing NSW.

It is reported that together the government appointments will be worth $93,000 a year to Mr Souris, who already receives an annual parliamentary pension (discontinued in 2007 for new MPs) of $150,000 a year.

The appointment also raises deeper questions about the culture of the tourism body. Mr Marshsall recently tried to have the current CEO of Destination NSW Sandra Chipchase sacked from the role but was rolled by the Premier. Ms Chipchase was appointed to the role by Mr Souris.

Shadow Minister for Tourism Penny Sharpe said that rather than have a murky merry-go-round of National Party Ministers, Mr Marshall could have turned to a range of experienced regional tourism operators or well-regarded industry experts to fill the role. Instead he gave the job to a mate.

Quotes attributable to Shadow Tourism Minister Penny Sharpe MLC 

Of all the people across regional NSW – especially those running tourism operations – you would think the Nationals could get out of their own shallow pond and appoint someone other than one of their superannuated ex-MP mates in George Souris. 

“The NSW Government has now furnished Mr Souris with two government-appointed board positions, together worth nearly $100,000 a year, in addition to his annual parliamentary pension of $150,000. 

“People won’t look kindly on what looks like a culture of matey nepotism – and the question will be asked: is Mr Marshall already looking forward to a plum government board position when he leaves politics? 

“Tourism in regional NSW is a crucial industry and an economic powerhouse for many communities, and it deserves the best and brightest to support and grow the industry, not an ex-politician on a gold-paved road to retirement.”