The Sydney Morning Herald of May 12 carried the story of Joe Tripodi’s recent round the world junket-quest to flog off the NSW Electricity Utilities to anyone with a Platinum Amex.
A delegation led by NSW Finance Minister Joe Tripodi racked up a $290,000 bill on an international trip while spruiking the state’s power assets to potential investors. The group ran up the estimated bill on the 27-day jaunt, which the opposition claims is the most costly ministerial trip in the Labor government’s history.
The website, Investsmart, brought a smile to my face with its ascerbic summary of Joe’s junket in Electric Joe goes global, but buyers are just next door
Joe has busted a gut, eating his way across four continents while scouring the world for potential buyers for our three state-owned electricity retailers. For 26 days, he and his entourage were forced to endure countless business-class airline trips across Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East, visiting “potential” buyers in 11 countries.
Tripodi justified the expense by claiming he attracted some hot interest, but those stick-in-the-muds at Investsmart point out that overseas interest is likely to be extremely limited and the most likely buyers are at home.
In the mid-1990s a national electricity market was formed and the idea was that all state governments would sell their generating and distribution assets. Victoria, under Jeff Kennett, was first out of the gate, selling all its power industry to mostly North American operators for close to $14 billion.
They all paid over the odds, just to get a foothold, in the mistaken belief they could snaffle the NSW and Queensland industries soon after. When it was clear that wasn’t going to happen, most sold out at huge losses a few years later.
Given that experience, even in ordinary times it is unlikely foreign bidders would even be slightly interested apart from the Chinese-owned Tru Energy, which has a power station just south of Wollongong at Tallawarra.
But Origin and AGL are so far clear of the pack in terms of buying power, it’s not funny. For a start, they both have the home-town advantage, with huge operations across the country.
Given the above, it seems likely that Barry O’Farrell is right and Tripodi has simply decided he would like to take a massively expensive tax-payer funded holiday. As O’Farrell points out, given Tripodi’s central importance in providing the numbers for Nathan Rees’ Premiership, Tripodi can do whatever the hell he wants. His current objective seems to be to set international records for consumption of Lobster Thermidore.
Tripodi’s response to criticism of the massive expenditure also included the breath-taking assertion that the amount spent was trivial because in Tripodi’s words:
the trip would be repaid many times over when the assets were sold.
Well, yes, since the Electricity assets on the block are valued at approx. $6 billion, even the voracious Tripodi would be hard-pressed to gorge his way through even 10% of that in a month.
But Tripodi’s implied mathematics of Ministerial Travel indicates that he views the state of New South Wales as his personal gigantic lunch-box which can can eat as much of as he likes, as long as he leaves at least some over.
Imagined Convesation between Joe Tripodi and Joe Hockey:
Tripodi: G’Day Joe glad you could make it over. Fancy a Nuclear Reactor ?
Hockey: Don’t mind if I do
BOTH: NOM NOM NOM burrrp NOM NOM NOM belcchhh NON NOM. ahhhh
Tripodi: ‘nother one ?
Hockey: Yair. Nice guts you’ve got there.
BOTH: NOM NOM etc.
Tripodi: ‘Nothery, Joe? How about a school computer ?
Hockey: Aren’t they expensive?
Tripodi: You kidding? The education budget is BILLIONS. There’s HEAPS.
Hockey: Give us ten.
BOTH: NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM …..
Tripodi: …NOM NOM NOM. Bloody Hell I’m hungry. Chuck us a Taxi.
Hockey: Can’t move.
Tripodi: Wuss. Arr NOM NOM. pause. Where ya goin’ Joe ?
Hockey: Gotta go. Off to berate the Unions about waste and nepotism.
Tripodi: Oath! Give ’em a rocket from me too. Bludgers.
Hockey: Aargh. My skull has spontaneously collapsed and is now free-floating in a universe of lard.
Tripodi. LARD! YUM. (Eats Hockey).
Tripodi is shameless. His only utility is as a living example of the benefits of abolishing State Government. Here’s a precis of some of his nest-feathering antics, as described by the Labor Tribune, organ of the Union movement in “Workers Deserve Better Than Tripodi” and, just lately, misusing his parliamentary allowances
Of further interest, the article above describes the close factional relationship between Joe Tripodi and Mark Arbib, right-hand man and kingmaker for Kevin Rudd. Arbib’s orchestration of the despicable NSW Right in my view makes Arbib unsuitable to be within two thousand light years of government.
Arbib, The Destroyer Of The Rudd Government
I predict Arbib’s unparalled ability to hide, fix and evade will load the Rudd government with truck-loads of artfully concealed scandal with will emetically discharge sometime during Rudd’s second term. Rudd (Bob Carr-like) will perceive the end and triumphantly stand aside for Gillard and become UN Undersecretary for Disarmarment. Gillard will be forced to eat the corpses of the Arbib-Rudd horror years and will be impeached and go insane.
Meanwhile, Tripodi still NSW Minister for Finance, but now in the Liberal Party, Arbib and Rudd will meet regularly in Vienna for “top-level discussions” about Australia’s nascent Nuclear Industry at ludicrous tax-payer expense.
That Tripodi-Arbib relationship:
Tripodi was a founding member of the “Terrigals”; a cabal of senior Rightwingers that included Mark Arbib, Eddie Obeid, Michael Costa, Morris Iemma and the now cannibalised Carl Scully. Carr didn’t want Tripodi in the NSW cabinet.
When In Rome
Recently, The SMH then followed up with a Freedom Of Information request for details on the expenditure. Their story “Salesman Got A Good Night’s Rest” showed the most exorbitant single instances of spending were enjoyed not by Mr. Tripodi (who no doubt ate and slept well on the trip) but by the Treasury Secretary Mr Shur and Deputy Secretary Mr. Cosgriff.
Mr Cosgriff spent £306 ($600) on one night at the Mandarin Oriental and $US1423 ($1800) for four nights and services at the New York Palace, while Mr Schur spent $872 for two nights at the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong and $590 at the Beijing Hilton.
More Career Highlights Of Joe Tripodi
Tripodi’s personal friend and a one-time Labor Branch President, Joe Scimone, was appointed to a $200,000 job in one of Joe’s portfolio areas, NSW Maritime, in Jan 2008. At the time Scimone was under investigation by ICAC regarding the filthy ALP property developer scam being operated out of Wollongong Council. Tripodi said he did not know that his friend was under investigation by ICAC at the time of the appointment and presumably was unaware or did not care that Scimone was or had been the subject of a sexual harrassment charge during December 2005. Details here
The Wikipedia page on Tripodi lists a range of odious incidents from his parliamentary career, none of which it seems have quite ‘stuck’ or been translated into successful prosecutions.