Col Murray has been appointed to a position paying $130,000 a year after an "informal chat" with Barnaby Joyce.
But the retiring Tamworth mayor rejected claims by the Labor Party that his appointment was a "jobs for the boys" arrangement.
In an interview with the Leader Cr Murray said the road to the position at the top of the independent infrastructure organisation started just after Mr Joyce was elected leader and regained responsibility for the relevant portfolio.
"We were sort of having a chat. This wasn't a formal chat, it was an informal chat about what I was going to do when I was finished in council," he said.
"I said 'well it looks like I've got a position at the University of New England on their board, I said I wouldn't mind one other thing to give me something to do, something to keep my mind active and keep myself engaged.'
"I said 'if there was a vacancy on something like Infrastructure Australia that'd be really good for me. I like that sort of thing.'"
Mr Joyce, who is also Minister for Infrastructure, announced the appointment on Thursday
Labor Shadow Minister Catherine King revealed Cr Murray's new job in Question Time on Tuesday.
She continued the attack on Thursday, claiming four of seven new appointments to the organisation had "easily discoverable links to the Liberal and National Parties" including Cr Murray, who once described himself as a "fairly solid Barnaby supporter".
"Barnaby Joyce's new appointments to the board of Infrastructure Australia amount to little more than a Nationals stack of this integral economic advisory agency," she said.
"A couple of weeks ago, Labor called for a review of Infrastructure Australia. As part of that review, we will closely consider the future of each of these board appointments."
On Thursday, Mr Joyce said that Cr Murray "has more than two decades of experience in the construction industry and considerable knowledge of local infrastructure issues in regional areas, gained through previous roles including chair of Regional Cities New South Wales and Deputy Chair of Regional Capitals Australia."
Cr Murray rejected the allegation that it was a "jobs for the boys" arrangement, but acknowledged the job would be a challenge.
"It certainly is a big step up for me, it's certainly I guess will take me I guess outside my comfort zone," he said.
"I'm always keen for a challenge and I'm always keen to have something to get excited about, I think this will provide that in spades."
Asked what his qualifications for the role were, he pointed to his time on Tamworth council.
The Infrastructure Australia legislation requires one member of the board to have experience in local government, Cr Murray said. He spent 17 years on Tamworth Regional Council and 11 years as mayor, and will retire at the December 4 election.
Cr Murray's first board meeting will be held on 14 December, and his appointment will last three years.
Established by the Rudd Labor government, Infrastructure Australia is an independent statutory body which provides advice to the Australian government about the merits of individual infrastructure projects, and maintains a list of the highest-priority builds.
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