NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro says media reports that a party official is being appointed to a minister's office despite being linked to the recruitment of alt-right members are a "witch hunt".
Nationals ministers and MPs have raised concerns over the appointment of Jeff McCormack as chief of staff to Water Minister Melinda Pavey.
Mr McCormack was one of two people named in parliament in 2018 by Labor MP Walt Secord who demanded to know whether the Nationals planned to expel him over a branch-stacking exercise that resulted in the alt-right infiltration of the youth wing of the party.
Screenshots of a Young Nationals Facebook page, seen by AAP, show Mr McCormack added to the group some of the people who were later booted from the party for their links to the alt-right.
About 20 Young Nationals were either forced to quit or booted from the party in November after an internal investigation into the infiltration of alt-right and white supremacists into the organisation.
Mr McCormack was cleared by an initial party review.
There's no suggestion Mr McCormack holds neo-Nazi or white supremacist views. He has been contacted for comment.
Despite several Nationals telling AAP they were troubled by Mr McCormack's promotion, Mr Barilaro insists none have raised the issue with him.
He added that the appointment was yet to be finalised.
"There is no proof, there is no issue and no one has raised the issue with me," Mr Barilaro told reporters on Wednesday.
"Jeff McCormack went through an internal National party investigation where we as the party, I as the leader of the party, along with Michael McCormack the federal leader, was absolutely clear and strong in relation to infiltration by some right wingers into our party.
"Jeff McCormack was absolutely cleared of any wrongdoing."
The deputy premier concluded: "Some of the reporting, unfortunately, acknowledging that he was cleared, continues to be on a witch hunt."
Mr Barilaro said he was proud to have had Mr McCormack manage his campaign in the March state election.
One Nationals minister told AAP they were "dumbfounded" by the move to promote Mr McCormack to Ms Pavey's office.
Interim NSW opposition leader Penny Sharpe wants the deputy premier to release details of the party's internal investigation into the infiltration of the Young Nationals.
"Will he release the details ... and if not, why not?" she said in a statement on Wednesday.
Australian Associated Press
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