Yet another setback for flood recovery as NRRC chair quits 

Susanna Freymark

The advisory board of the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation met for the first time 11 days ago on August 5.

Today, the board’s chair Gary Barnes announced he was resigning from his public service career of 42 years.

This leaves a gap on the board that is advising on flood recovery and rebuilding.

Website reported that Mr Barnes left his position as secretary of the Department of Regional NSW, a job created in April 2020.

It said he left after a parliamentary inquiry revealed he had been a referee for John Barilaro for a senior trade post.

The website said 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.

A Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation spokesperson said acting secretary of the Department of Regional NSW Rebecca Fox had stepped into Mr Barnes’s position on the flood advisory board.

Mr Barnes has agreed to remain on the board for a period to ensure a smooth transition, the spokesperson said.

The NRRC has been tasked with rebuilding flood-impacted communities in the Northern Rivers. 

The members of the board are: 

Michael Cassel, Department of Planning and Environment;  

Peter Duncan, NSW Independent Planning Commission; 

Andrew Hall, Insurance Council of Australia; 

Darren Kershaw, North Coast Aboriginal Development Alliance; 

Jane Laverty, Business NSW; 

Sharon Cadwallader, Northern Rivers Joint Organisation; and 

Michael Rayner, Tweed community member and technical expert.

No comment was received from NRRC chief executive David Witherdin about Mr Barnes’s departure, only the comment from a spokesperson was sent.

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