Joseph Guerino 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 Labor Party between 1995 and 2011. He was Minister for Finance, Infrastructure, Regulatory Reform, Ports and Waterways under former Premier Nathan Rees. He was a controversial figure during his time in politics, known as a factional boss, 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. Tripodi had his membership of the Labor Party terminated in June 2014 after the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) found that Tripodi acted in corrupt conduct by deliberately failing to disclose to his Cabinet colleagues his awareness of the Obeid family's financial interests in Circular Quay leases. In 2016 ICAC made a second finding of corruption against Tripodi for leaking confidential Treasury information to benefit Nathan Tinkler's business interests, and recommended charges. In 2017 ICAC made a third finding of corruption against Tripodi for using his ministerial position to try to award a government water contract to benefit the Obeid family.
|Member of the |
New South Wales Legislative Assembly
25 March 1995 – 4 March 2011
|Preceded by||Geoff Irwin|
|Succeeded by||Guy Zangari|
Joseph Guerino Tripodi
25 November 1967
Fairfield, New South Wales
|Political party||Labor Party (1983–2014)|
|Alma mater||University of Sydney|
|Occupation||Economist and union organiser|
|Website||NSW Parliament profile|
Tripodi was born in 1967 and raised in Fairfield, a suburb in south-western Sydney, the eldest of four children to Italian migrants Angelo and Iolanda, receiving his early years of education at Westfields High School, West Fairfield. 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, later becoming an official with the NSW Labor Council from 1993 to 1995.
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. In February 2006, he became Minister for Energy, Minister for Ports and Waterways and Minister Assisting the Treasurer on Business and Economic Regulatory Reform. In April 2007, he became Minister for Small Business, Regulatory Reform, Ports and Waterways.
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.
Along with Eddie Obeid, Tripodi is seen as a factional leader of a sub-faction known informally as "the Terrigals". 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. This has since been described as "one of the greatest acts of bastardry of all time". 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.
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. 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. Soon afterwards, Tripodi enacted revenge on Rees by organising a petition calling for a special caucus meeting to enable a leadership challenge. 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". Rees that day subsequently lost the leadership and Premiership to Kristina Keneally.
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. 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. The AVO was withdrawn shortly afterward.
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. Fraser apologised to Parliament and Tripodi. It was revealed that alcohol may have influenced Fraser's rage.
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.
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  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. This was criticised by Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell who stated that the community would feel let down by the ICAC's decision.
Retirement from ParliamentEdit
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. Tripodi was the 15th Labor MP to announce their retirement since the last state election in 2007. Although denying that he was pushed, Keneally praised his contribution to government economic reform, especially in the areas of energy, housing and ports. 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.
Appearing on ABC's Stateline in November 2010 after announcing his retirement, Tripodi stated he regretted entering Parliament at a young age and if he had his time again he would enter politics at the age of 45 or 50.
Federal politics possibilityEdit
In 2009 it was reported that Tripodi had approached senior Labor officials in 2008 to seek advice about possible endorsement in the federal seat of Fowler at the 2010 election. In the same unconfirmed report, Karl Bitar, Labor's national secretary, advised Tripodi to get out of politics altogether due to the reputation from various scandals and from being viewed as a factional player and powerbroker. It was also reported that Kevin Rudd, Labor's Prime Minister at that time, would be highly reluctant to accept Tripodi in the federal Labor caucus. Tripodi denied the media report, describing it as "completely false".
Findings of the Independent Commission Against CorruptionEdit
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 a 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 region, without disclosing that Obeid, his family or a related entity had an interest in the licences. Tripodi and former members of his staff were called as witnesses before the commission. On 6 November 2013, Tripodi requested that his membership of the Labor Party be suspended until such time as the Commission released its findings. The Commission handed down its findings in June 2014, and found that Tripodi engaged in corrupt conduct in 2007 by deliberately failing to disclose to his Cabinet colleagues his awareness of the Obeid family's financial interests in Circular Quay leases. While the ICAC did not recommend any charges be laid against Tripodi, NSW Labor terminated his membership of the Labor Party for bringing the party into disrepute.
In May 2014 in a separate matter before the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, junior counsel assisting the inquiry, Greg O'Mahoney, told former MP Jodi McKay that "we've got pretty good information" that the three people who distributed leaflets making damaging allegations about her throughout her electorate were: "the Tinkler group (Nathan Tinkler), Miss Anne Wills [an associate of Mr Tripodi and a consultant to Buildev] and Mr Joe Tripodi." In the Inquiry, it was alleged that the leaflets were distributed because McKay refused a bribe from Tinkler.
In 2016 ICAC made a second finding of corruption against Tripodi for leaking confidential Treasury information to benefit Nathan Tinkler's company Buildev, and recommended the Director of Public Prosecutions consider charging Tripodi with misconduct in public office.
In 2017 ICAC found Tripodi engaged in "serious corrupt conduct" for using his ministerial position to try to award a lucrative government water contract which would have financially benefited the Obeid family, and again recommended charges of misconduct in public office against Tripodi.
As a state minister, Tripodi was entitled to use the honorific "The Honourable", even in his post-political career. Following findings of corrupt conduct against Tripodi and the announcement of the decision to commence criminal proceedings, at the request of Mike Baird, the Premier of New South Wales, the Department of Premier and Cabinet asked Tripodi to show cause why he should not lose the title of “honourable”. Tripodi chose not to respond and Baird recommended to Governor David Hurley that the honorific be removed; which was authorised with effect from December 2014.
- McClymont, Kate; Whitbourn, Michaela (5 June 2014). "ICAC: The verdict on Eddie Obeid". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
- Coultan, Mark (5 June 2014). "ICAC finds Eddie Obeid, Joe Tripodi, Steve Dunn corrupt over series of deals". The Australian. AAP. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
- Wells, Jamelle (5 June 2014). "ICAC finds Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi corrupt over retail leases at Sydney's Circular Quay". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
- Silmalis, Linda (15 November 2009). "Rees axes Tripodi, Macdonald". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 15 November 2009.
- Nicholls, Sean (11 November 2010). "Tripodi was the dead wood that had to go". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
- Benson, Simon (11 November 2010). "Factional warlord Joe Tripodi falls on his sword". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
- Whitbourn, Michaela (30 August 2016). "ICAC's Operation Spicer report live: the findings revealed". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- Hall, Louise; Gerathy, Sarah (3 August 2017). "Three former Labor ministers engaged in corrupt conduct, ICAC finds". ABC News. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- "Inaugural speech: Mr Joe Tripodi MP (Public Health Amendment (Tobacco) Bill 1996)". Parliament of New South Wales. 30 April 1996. Retrieved 23 April 2008.
- "Joe Tripodi MP". NSW Legislative Assembly. NSW ALP Branch. Archived from the original on 13 August 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
- "Mr Joseph Guerino Tripodi". Former Members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
- Wainwright, Robert (22 October 2005). "Road games: why Andrew Fraser went full throttle". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 February 2007.
- Jopson, Debra (10 February 2007). "Carr: don't ease rules on new marinas". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
- Salusinszky, Imre (11 September 2009). "Joe Tripodi in new power sell-off". The Australian. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- Mitchell, Alex (28 January 2009). "The Terrigals' reign of NSW bastardry is over". Crikey. Private Media Pty Limited. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- "Rees minus Tripodi and Obeid, equals a healed NSW ALP". Crikey. 30 March 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- "Rees names top ministers". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 September 2008. Retrieved 8 September 2008.
- "Who rolled Rees?". The Sydney Morning Herald. 4 December 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- McClymont, Kate (4 December 2009). "Discredited, despised, but still pulling all the strings". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- Funnell, Camille (31 October 2010). "MP at centre of sex scandal denies wrongdoing". PM (ABC Radio). Australia. Retrieved 25 February 2007.
- "Hansard". Parliament of New South Wales. 28 February 2001. Retrieved 5 March 2007.
- Davies, Anne (4 September 2004). "Labor MP paid $7000 for branch stacking". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 February 2007.
- "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)
- Wainwright, Robert (22 October 2005). "Road games: why Andrew Fraser went full throttle". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 November 2010.
- Clennell, Andrew (22 October 2005). "Point of order, Mr Speaker". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 November 2010.
- Mitchell, Alex (25 February 2007). "Hung parliament will see Tripodi lynched". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 February 2007.
- Benson, Simon (20 February 2008). "Joe Tripodi punts mate Joe Scimone over ICAC vice claims". The Daily Telegraph. Australia. Retrieved 10 March 2008.
- "Scimone resigns from NSW Maritime". ABC News. Australia. 20 February 2008. Retrieved 10 March 2008.
- Ralston, Nick; Kirby, Simon (3 March 2008). "Tripodi, Hay cleared of wrongdoing". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 March 2008.
- Karlovsky, Brian (11 November 2010). "Joe Tripodi quits politics". Fairfield Advance. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
- Smith, Alexandra; Jamal, Nadia (11 November 2010). "Tripodi says his number is up". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
- Salusinszky, Imre (11 November 2010). "No angel, but best treasurer we never had". The Australian. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
- Salusinszky, Imre (11 November 2010). "Powerbroker Joe Tripodi quits". The Australian. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
- Tripodi, Joe (15 November 2010). "Interview with Joe Tripodi". Stateline (Transcript of television interview). Interviewed by Quentin Dempster. New South Wales: ABC TV. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
I went into Parliament at a very young age and I think that you just don't have the experience to be able deal with the challenges that you have as a member of Parliament. If I had my time again, I probably would have gone at 45 or 50-years-old and any young person who comes along and talks to me, I recommend that course of action.
- Clennell, Andrew (5 February 2009). "Tripodi tries to jump ship, gets told to go jump". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 1. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- "Tripodi denies federal tilt". 702 ABC Sydney. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 5 February 2009. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- "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. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- Colvin, Mark; Lloyd, Peter (6 November 2013). "Eddie Obeid used influence to lobby for water licenses, ICAC told". PM (ABC Radio). Australia. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- Norington, Brad (7 November 2013). "Labor suspends former minister Joe Tripodi over ICAC probe". The Australian. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- 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.
- McClymont, Kate (1 May 2014). "ICAC inquiry: Jodi McKay, Eric Roozendaal and the Nathan Tinkler 'bribe'". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- Silmalis, Linda (14 December 2014). "Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi stripped of 'honourable' titles after ICAC findings". The Sunday Telegraph. Australia. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- "Conduct of the Hon Edward Obeid MLC and others concerning Circular Quay retail lease policy". Fact sheet. Independent Commission Against Corruption. 5 June 2014. Archived from the original on 21 June 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
|New South Wales Legislative Assembly|
| Member for Fairfield
1995 – 2011
|| Minister for Housing
| Minister for Roads
as Minister for Utilities
| Minister for Energy
John Della Bosca
as Assistant Treasurer
| Minister Assisting the Treasurer on Business and Economic Regulatory Reform
as Minister for Small Business and Regulatory Reform
| Minister for Ports and Waterways
as Minister for Small Business
| Minister for Small Business and Regulatory Reform
as Minister for Small Business and as Minister for Regulatory Reform
as Minister for Small Business and Regulatory Reform
| Minister for Small Business
as Minister for Small Business and Regulatory Reform
| Minister for Regulatory Reform
| Minister for Finance
| Minister for Infrastructure