Joe Tripodi

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Joe Tripodi
Member of the
New South Wales Legislative Assembly
for Fairfield
In office
25 March 1995 – 26 March 2011
Preceded by Geoff Irwin
Succeeded by Guy Zangari
Personal details
Born Joseph Guerino Tripodi
(1967-11-25) 25 November 1967 (age 46)
Fairfield, New South Wales
Nationality  Australia
Political party Australian Labor Party
Relations Angela D'Amore (sister-in-law)
Alma mater University of Sydney
Occupation Economist and union organiser

Joseph Guerino "Joe" Tripodi (born 25 November 1967), a former Australian politician, was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly representing the electorate of Fairfield for the Australian Labor Party between 1995 and 2011. He was Minister for Finance, Infrastructure, Regulatory Reform, Ports and Waterways under former Premier Nathan Rees.[1] He was a controversial figure during his time in politics, known as a factional boss,[2] within the NSW Labor Right whose Terrigals sub-faction has twice dumped the sitting Labor Premier during 2007 and 2010. On 11 November 2010, he announced his decision to not contest the 2011 state election.[3]

Early career[edit]

Tripodi was born in 1967 and raised in Fairfield, New South Wales, the eldest of four children to Italian migrants Angelo and Iolanda,[4] receiving his early years of education at Westfields High School, West Fairfield.[5] He graduated with a Bachelor of Economics (Hons) from the University of Sydney and became an economist with the Reserve Bank of Australia from 1989 to 1991. At age 16, Tripodi joined the Labor Party and served as State Secretary of NSW Young Labor,[5] later becoming an official with the NSW Labor Council from 1993 to 1995.[6]

Political career[edit]

In 1995, Tripodi was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, representing the western Sydney electorate of Fairfield for Labor.

Prior to entering the ministry Tripodi was the Chairman of the Legislative Assembly Public Accounts Committee. He was the Minister for Housing from February to August 2005, when he became Minister for Roads. In September 2005, he was chased and grabbed on the floor of the Assembly by National Party member Andrew Fraser, apparently in relation to a road funding issue.[7] In February 2006, he became Minister for Energy, Minister for Ports and Waterways and Minister Assisting the Treasurer on Business and Economic Regulatory Reform.[6] In April 2007, he became Minister for Small Business, Regulatory Reform, Ports and Waterways.[6]

In 2007, former premier Bob Carr was critical of Tripodi's performance as waterways minister with regard to his management of harbour development.[8]

In 2009, it was reported that Tripodi had proposed electricity industry reform in NSW that would result in the three state-owned retailers being sold off to private enterprise and the sale of long-term "gentrader" contracts.[9]

Factional boss[edit]

Along with Eddie Obeid, Tripodi is seen as a factional leader of a sub-faction known informally as "the Terrigals".[10] He and Obeid have been held responsible for ending the hopes of loyal Terrigal Carl Scully of becoming NSW Premier in 2005 following the resignation of Bob Carr. Tripodi and Obeid reportedly walked into Scully's office and informed him that they had decided to support then Health Minister Morris Iemma instead.[10] This has since been described as "one of the greatest acts of bastardry of all time".[10] Iemma went on to become Premier and win the 2007 NSW elections however in 2008 Tripodi and Obeid withdrew their support for Iemma, forcing Iemma to resign from the NSW Premiership.[11]

On 8 September 2008 Iemma's successor Nathan Rees promoted Tripodi to the Finance and Infrastructure portfolios, in addition to his previous responsibilities of Ports and Waterways, and Regulatory Reform.[12] On 15 November 2009 Rees dumped Tripodi from the front bench for allegedly plotting to install former Health Minister John Della Bosca as Premier; Rees used new special powers granted to him at the NSW Labor Party State Conference the day before, which gave him authority to choose who serves on the Labor front bench instead of the State Parliamentary Labor Party.[1] Soon afterwards, Tripodi enacted revenge on Rees by organising a petition calling for a special caucus meeting to enable a leadership challenge.[13] This resulted in Rees on 3 December 2009 stating that "Should I not be Premier by the end of this day, let there be no doubt in the community's mind, no doubt, that any challenger will be a puppet of Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi".[14] Rees that day subsequently lost the leadership and Premiership to Kristina Keneally.

Controversy[edit]

His career from early on until its end, was marked by a series of public allegations about impropriety and corruption. In October 2000, he was accused of sexually assaulting an Australian Democrats staffer at a New South Wales Parliament House function the month before.[15] The complainant made an initial statement to the NSW Police, but withdrew it the following day. It was later alleged that one of the police officers who investigated the original complaint was a member of Tripodi's branch of the ALP.

In 2001, the manager of a committee chaired by Tripodi took out an apprehended violence order (AVO) against the MP after he publicly opposed a development application by her husband for a tavern opposite a primary school in Tripodi's electorate.[16] The AVO was withdrawn shortly afterward.

Tripodi was also accused of branch stacking. In 1996, it was reported that he paid almost $7,000 in cash to the ALP head office to fund a "branch stack".[17]

Tripodi was implicated in the Orange Grove affair, but subsequently cleared by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in 2005.[18]

While Minister for Roads, Tripodi was chased and grabbed by Coffs Harbour local member Andrew Fraser on the floor of Parliament in September 2005, apparently in relation to a lack of funding for the main roads, including the Pacific Highway in Coffs Harbour.[19] Fraser apologised to Parliament and Tripodi. It was revealed that alcohol may have influenced Fraser's rage.[20]

Coalition campaign advertising ahead of the 2007 election identified Tripodi—along with Treasurer Michael Costa and Planning Minister Frank Sartor—as one of the government's least popular. Independent MPs indicated that, in the event of a hung parliament, they would not support a minority Labor government in which Tripodi remained a minister.[21]

During an ICAC investigation into Wollongong City Council in 2008, it was revealed that a former Council officer against whom corruption allegations had been made was a personal friend of Tripodi's and had subsequently been appointed to a senior position in a department in his portfolio [22][23] Tripodi claimed the appointment had been "at arm's length" from him, and on 3 March 2008 the ICAC indicated there was no evidence that would sustain an investigation.[24] This was criticised by Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell who stated that the community would feel let down by the ICAC's decision.[24]

Resignation from Parliament[edit]

Tripodi's announcement of his decision to not contest the March 2011 NSW election came as pressure was mounting from the Premier Kristina Keneally to "refresh and renew" Labor politics in NSW.[25] Tripodi was the 15th Labor MP to announce their retirement since the last state election in 2007.[26] Although denying that he was pushed, Keneally praised his contribution to government economic reform, especially in the areas of energy, housing and ports.[3][26] There was significant media opinion that Tripodi's decision was a major victory for Labor's head office who saw him as a political liability.[2][27][28]

Post-political career[edit]

In October 2013, the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption commenced investigative hearings surrounding allegations that, between 2000 and 2011, Eddie Obeid misused his position as an Member of Parliament to attempt to influence public officials to exercise their official functions with respect to retail leases at Circular Quay, without disclosing that Obeid, his family or a related entity had an interest in some of those leases. It was also alleged that during the same period, certain public officials improperly exercised their official functions, with respect to retail leases at Circular Quay, to benefit Obeid or his family. Further allegations were also made that alleged that Obeid had attempted to influence public officials to exercise their official functions with respect to the review and grant of water licences at a farm at Bylong in the Upper Hunter, without disclosing that Obeid, his family or a related entity had an interest in the licences.[29][30] Tripodi and former members of his staff were called as witnesses before the Commission.[31] On 6 November 2013, Tripodi requested that his membership of the Labor Party be suspended until such time as the Commission released its findings.[32]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Silmalis, Linda (15 November 2009). "Rees axes Tripodi, Macdonald". The Sunday Telegraph (News Limited). Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Nicholls, Sean (11 November 2010). "Tripodi was the dead wood that had to go". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Benson, Simon (11 November 2010). "Factional warlord Joe Tripodi falls on his sword". The Daily Telegraph (News Limited). Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  4. ^ "Inaugural speech: Mr Joe Tripodi MP (Public Health Amendment (Tobacco) Bill 1996)". Parliament of New South Wales. 30 April 1996. Retrieved 23 April 2008. 
  5. ^ a b "Joe Tripodi MP". NSW Legislative Assembly. NSW ALP Branch. Retrieved 21 December 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c "The Hon. Joseph Guerino Tripodi, BEc(Hons) MP". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 12 February 2010. 
  7. ^ Wainwright, Robert (22 October 2005). "Road games: why Andrew Fraser went full throttle". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 19 February 2007. 
  8. ^ Jopson, Debra (10 February 2007). "Carr: don't ease rules on new marinas". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 24 February 2007. 
  9. ^ Salusinszky, Imre (11 September 2009). "Joe Tripodi in new power sell-off". The Australian (News Limited). Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  10. ^ a b c Mitchell, Alex (28 January 2009). "The Terrigals’ reign of NSW bastardry is over". Crikey. Private Media Pty Limited. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  11. ^ "Rees minus Tripodi and Obeid, equals a healed NSW ALP". Crikey. Private Media Pty Limited. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  12. ^ "Rees names top ministers". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). 8 September 2008. Retrieved 8 September 2008. 
  13. ^ "Who rolled Rees?". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). 4 December 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  14. ^ McClymont, Kate (4 December 2009). "Discredited, despised, but still pulling all the strings". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  15. ^ Funnell, Camille (31 October 2010). "MP at centre of sex scandal denies wrongdoing". ABC Radio - PM (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 25 February 2007. 
  16. ^ "Hansard". Parliament of New South Wales. 28 February 2001. Retrieved 5 March 2007. 
  17. ^ Davies, Anne (4 September 2004). "Labor MP paid $7000 for branch stacking". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 25 February 2007. 
  18. ^ "Report on investigation into planning decisions relating to the Orange Grove Centre (Operations Sirius)" (pdf). Independent Commission Against Corruption. 11 August 2005. pp. 95–99. Retrieved 12 February 2010.  (Search required)
  19. ^ Wainwright, Robert (22 October 2005). "Road games: why Andrew Fraser went full throttle". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 2010-11-12. 
  20. ^ Clennell, Andrew (22 October 2005). "Point of order, Mr Speaker". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 12 November 2010. 
  21. ^ Mitchell, Alex (25 February 2007). "Hung parliament will see Tripodi lynched". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 25 February 2007. 
  22. ^ Benson, Simon (20 February 2008). "Joe Tripodi punts mate Joe Scimone over ICAC vice claims". The Daily Telegraph (News Limited). Retrieved 10 March 2008. 
  23. ^ "Scimone resigns from NSW Maritime". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 20 February 2008. Retrieved 10 March 2008. 
  24. ^ a b Ralston, Nick; Kirby, Simon (3 March 2008). "Tripodi, Hay cleared of wrongdoing". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 10 March 2008. 
  25. ^ Karlovsky, Brian (11 November 2010). "Joe Tripodi quits politics". Fairfield Advance (News Limited). Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  26. ^ a b Smith, Alexandra; Jamal, Nadia (11 November 2010). "Tripodi says his number is up". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  27. ^ Salusinszky, Imre (11 November 2010). "No angel, but best treasurer we never had". The Australian (News Limited). Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  28. ^ Salusinszky, Imre (11 November 2010). "Powerbroker Joe Tripodi quits". The Australian (News Limited). Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  29. ^ "Public inquiry into alleged attempts by the former Hon Edward Obeid MLC to influence official functions over Circular Quay retail leases, and other matters, starts Monday". Current investigations (Press release). Independent Commission Against Corruption. 23 October 2013. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  30. ^ Colvin, Mark; Lloyd, Peter (6 November 2013). "Eddie Obeid used influence to lobby for water licenses, ICAC told". PM (ABC Radio) (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  31. ^ Norington, Brad (7 November 2013). "Labor suspends former minister Joe Tripodi over ICAC probe". The Australian. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  32. ^ Gerathy, Sarah; Wells, Jamelle (7 November 2013). "Joe Tripodi suspended from ALP during latest ICAC inquiry into Eddie Obeid". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
Geoff Irwin
Member for Fairfield
1995 – 2011
Succeeded by
Guy Zangari