Tripodi referred to corruption watchdog

Tripodi referred to corruption watchdog

July 13, 2010 – 11:38AM
Joe Tripodi ... economic expertise.

Joe Tripodi … has been referred to the ICAC. Photo: Rob Homer

Controversial NSW Labor MP Joe Tripodi has been referred to the state corruption watchdog over claims he told a former chief of NSW Maritime to create a $200,000 job, then recommended two Labor staffers for the role.

Former NSW Maritime chief executive Chris Oxenbould told News Ltd that in 2006 Mr Tripodi, who was then ports minister, told him he wanted to create the general manager (policy) position within the department.

He then recommended former Labor staffers Cassandra Wilkinson and Patrick Low for the job, with Mr Low the successful candidate.

The state opposition has seized on the latest allegations involving Mr Tripodi, referring the claims to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

Mr Tripodi was subject to a similar ICAC investigation in 2008 over his appointment of long-time friend Joe Scimone to a $200,000 position with NSW Maritime.

Mr Tripodi was eventually cleared by the watchdog of any wrongdoing, although Mr Scimone was forced to stand down over his involvement in the unrelated Wollongong Council development scandal.

“We’ve had a look at some comments from … Chris Oxenbould which indicate clearly that Joe Tripodi as the then minister suggested strongly to him that he create an additional position, a pretty highly paid position, and that he ought to consider two Labor mates for the job,” said deputy opposition leader Andrew Stoner.

“I think (that) is a pretty clear breach of the conduct and standards expected by a minister.

“Given that Joe Tripodi has a bit of form on this with the appointment of Joe Scimone some years ago, I thought it well worth an investigation into the statements by Mr Oxenbould.”

Mr Stoner called on NSW Premier Kristina Keneally, who is currently on a tour to China, to state whether Mr Tripodi had a future in the NSW parliament.

Mr Tripodi, a factional heavyweight, has been instrumental in Ms Keneally’s quick rise through Labor ranks, and was one of those behind her elevation to the top job last December.

Comment was being sought from Mr Tripodi and the premier’s office.

Mr Tripodi is the latest in a series of Labor MPs to be investigated by the corruption watchdog this year.

Former Penrith MP Karyn Paluzzano quit parliament in early May after admitting lying to a corruption inquiry about misusing public funds.

Claims former minister Ian Macdonald rorted his travel expenses on a trip to Dubai have also been referred to the ICAC.

And in June, Wollongong MP Noreen Hay was referred to the commission by the NSW Electoral Commission over a matter related to political donations.


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