John Barilaro
John Barilaro (Image: AAP/Joel Carrett)

Despite producing one of the most significant and reforming budgets of recent decades, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet is busy trying to extricate himself from the scandal of former NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro's appointment to a $500,000 trade commissioner job in New York.

The job itself is a waste of money. There is no evidence that state trade commissioners -- or for that matter national trade commissioners -- deliver any value for money. Governments appear reluctant to test the benefits of the position against the costs not merely of paying commissioners but supporting them and maintaining an office.

But Barilaro and then premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a doubling of trade commissioner positions, including the New York one, in late 2019 as part of a "global NSW" strategy -- although good luck finding an actual strategy document anywhere. There appears to have been no cost-benefit analysis done of whether the 10 extra trade commissioner positions would deliver any value to taxpayers.