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ICAC: Joe Tripodi said to have taken road trip to visit Tony Kelly

Investigated: Joe Tripodi.

Investigated: Joe Tripodi. Photo: James Brickwood

The four-hour drive from western Sydney to Wellington in the state's central west is not exactly a well-worn path for politicians.

But the former Labor powerbroker Joe Tripodi made the trek early last year, it is understood, to visit his old ministerial colleague Tony Kelly.

They are being investigated as part of a corruption inquiry.

Reported to have met with Tripodi: Tony Kelly.

Reported to have met with Tripodi: Tony Kelly. Photo: Ben Rushton

Last week, the Independent Commission Against Corruption announced two inquiries involving Australian Water Holdings, a company linked to the family of former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid.

ICAC will examine allegations that, in 2010, Mr Tripodi, Mr Obeid and Mr Kelly ''misused their positions as members of Parliament to attempt to influence public officials to exercise their official functions'' with respect to a public-private partnership proposal.

The commission has also alleged that, in the same year, ''public officials and others'' were involved in falsifying a cabinet minute relating to the public-private partnership proposal.

This was done ''with the intention of misleading the government budget cabinet committee and obtaining a benefit for AWH''.

ICAC has not named Mr Kelly in the second allegation but he was minister for planning and infrastructure at the time. Mr Tripodi was not in cabinet.

Mr Tripodi was a factional ally of Mr Obeid and together they ran ''the Terrigals'', the main subfaction in the Labor government. Mr Tripodi said he had ''no comment'' about the visit. Mr Kelly did not respond to a request for comment.

In December 2011, Mr Kelly was found by ICAC to have acted corruptly while he was the minister for lands by backdating a letter relating to the $12 million purchase of former union retreat Currawong by the state government.

ICAC asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider laying criminal charges against Mr Kelly, but last year the agency advised there was insufficient evidence.

During hearings it emerged that the senior bureaucrat at the centre of the investigation, Warwick Watkins, arranged to secretly meet his chief of staff on the Old Pacific Highway at Berowra to discuss Mr Watkins' interview with ICAC. Charges brought against Mr Watkins over the backdated letter were dismissed in December.

Last year, Mr Tripodi was investigated by ICAC over claims that, as ports minister, he was aware Mr Obeid's family had interests in commercial leases at Circular Quay when he renewed them without tender in 2009. Mr Tripodi has strongly denied this.

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