Joe Tripodi arrives at ICAC
RAW VISION: former NSW Labor ministers Tony Kelly and Joe Tripodi arrive at the Independent Commission Against Corruption to give evidence in Thursday's hearings. Nine News.PT0M42S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-36elf 620 349 April 10, 2014
Former NSW Labor ministers Tony Kelly and Joe Tripodi have admitted to a corruption inquiry that they were involved in an allegedly doctored cabinet minute favouring a company linked to their corrupt former colleague Eddie Obeid. But at the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Thursday both men laid the blame for writing the document on each other or their advisers.
Mr Kelly told the inquiry he had ''signed it and put it forward'' to cabinet in mid-2010 but that it was ''produced'' by Mr Tripodi and advisers from their offices, Laurie Brown and Claudia Certoma.
Later on Thursday, Mr Tripodi said he had prepared ''working notes'' for Mr Kelly's office in the form of a cabinet minute and did not see the ''finished product''.
Former state Labor minister Joe Tripodi arrives at the ICAC inquiry yesterday. Photo: Rob Homer
The commission is investigating allegations that Mr Tripodi and Mr Kelly ''doctored'' the cabinet minute to reverse a recommendation to reject a proposal by infrastructure company Australian Water Holdings for a lucrative public-private partnership.
The inquiry has heard the Obeids were ''secret stakeholders'' in AWH and stood to make up to $60 million from the deal.
The altered minute changed the proposal from ''unsolicited'' to ''solicited'' and recommended the government engage in exclusive talks with the company for a PPP.
Tony Kelly faces reporters outside the commission. Photo: Rob Homer
Counsel assisting the inquiry, Geoffrey Watson, SC, has said that the alleged changes were ''tantamount to a fraud''.
Mr Tripodi told the inquiry he ''wasn't involved in what they [Tony Kelly's office] were writing''.
''I gave my draft minute, my working document, to Mr Kelly's office and then they used it,'' Mr Tripodi said.
Mr Watson said: ''I'm suggesting that this has got your fingerprints all over it, Mr Tripodi.''
Mr Tripodi replied: ''You are utterly wrong, beyond what they drew from my document.''
Mr Kelly told the inquiry that he did not read the original cabinet minute rejecting AWH's proposal for a PPP. But he told ICAC in a private interview last year that it was his ''ministerial decision'' to prepare a new minute that reversed the position in the earlier minute.
He agreed he did not know if the proposal was worth $10,000 or $10 million and did not check any of the figures in the cabinet minute.
He believed the figures would be ''verified and checked'' by Treasury before submitted to cabinet.
Both former Labor ministers said they were not aware of Mr Obeid's alleged links to the company when they were dealing with the document. ''It wasn't to help Eddie Obeid, it was to help … western Sydney people to get infrastructure,'' Mr Kelly said.
Former premier Kristina Keneally has given evidence that she instructed Mr Kelly not to resubmit the cabinet minute when he tried for a second time to get it approved. Mr Kelly said he could not recall her telling him that Mr Obeid's youngest son, Eddie jnr, worked for the company and that she had, in fact, ''invited'' him to resubmit it.
''I'm going to put to you you're just making that up, Mr Kelly,'' Mr Watson said.
''I don't see how you can say that,'' Mr Kelly replied.
Mr Tripodi told the inquiry he believed Eddie jnr was helping out in AWH's Queensland operations but he was not ''under the impression'' he worked for the company.