NSW Ports and Waterways Minister Joe Tripodi’s favorite Liberal, Fairfield City councillor Frank Oliveri, is ecstatic about his appointment to the Iemma Government’s Greater Western Sydney Economic Development Board.

He told the Fairfield Champion he was keen to contribute to the Western Sydney region which he described as “the new economic powerhouse of Australia.”

“It is imperative that the board works with business, the community and all three levels of government to promote job growth and economic development in the region,” he said.

As all three levels of government — federal, state and local — are currently in Labor hands, the staunch Liberal councillor would seem to be practising in hostile territory. But Oliveri has a long history of being a Liberal with whom Labor can work effectively.

In 1997, for example, Oliveri and his late father, Frank Snr, broke from the Liberal group on Fairfield council and formed a tactical alliance with the ruling Labor councillors so that he (Frank Jnr) could be elected deputy mayor with ALP votes. When local Liberals threatened to remove his membership or disendorse him, Oliveri hit back: “As a Liberal-endorsed councillor I still have very strong Liberal ideals. I will always remain Liberal and will vote as such.”

In 1996 he provided generous assistance to another Labor councillor, Phuong Ngo, when Deputy Premier and Health Minister Andrew Refshauge proposed to nominate Ngo to the South Western Sydney Health Service Board. At the time, Ngo was the prime suspect in the police investigation into the 1993 murder of the local Labor MP, John Newman, who was gunned down in the driveway of his home in Australia’s first political assassination.

Oliveri wrote to Refshauge on July 19, 1996, saying:

As a Fairfield City Coucnillor and real estate agent I have come to know Councillor Phuonh Canh Ngo very well in both spheres of my professional and council activities.

During the period that I have known him I have found him to be a very caring, committed and understanding individual who has a great interest in the welfare of our community.

He has an indepth knowledge of the problems facing our community, he is a tireless worker, involved with many groups and organisations assisting them in every possible way whether it be fund raising or issues that require assistance at all levels of government.

I fully support his application for an appointment to the South Western Sydney Area Health Service Board because I am certain he has much to offer and contribute to the welfare and the wellbeing of our community.

In 2001 Ngo, Cabramatta’s leading ALP branch stacker, was sentenced to life for the local MP’s murder but Oliveri continued to visit him in prison.

In 1996 the Oliveris, father and son, circulated a letter on the letterhead of their company Oliveri Corporate Broker, touting for real estate business and using their membership of council as a selling point and giving the numbers of their council-supplied mobile phones:

Oliveri Corporate Brokers are specialist corporate business negotiators specializing in the sale of manufacturing, engineering and industrial based companies over $1 million in the Sydney metropolitan area. Should you have a property you wish to sell or lease, contact Oliveri Corporate Brokers for professional service. We will be a leading force in the Western Sydney Industrial Market into the next century.

Indeed!

Small Business Minister Tripodi’s support for Oliveri as a member of the government’s Small Business Development Corporation and the Greater Western Sydney Economic Development Board is seen as a tactical move by the Fairfield MP. With the Iemma Government is such ruinous shape, how long can Joe expect to remain a minister and how long before he is looking for a post-political career?

Peter Fray

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