ALP powerbroker Joe Tripodi, expelled for life by the NSW Labor Party six weeks ago, is on the official invitation list for a gala dinner to celebrate Bob Carr’s “brilliant career”.

So is expelled former lands minister Tony Kelly, who is awaiting a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) as to whether he should face criminal charges.

And so is Karyn Paluzzano, the former Penrith MP, jailed for 12 months in 2012 for rorting her parliamentary allowance. She served her sentence in home detention.

The September 18 dinner — first reported by Crikey on Monday — is being co-hosted by Opposition Leader John Robertson and Senator Sam Dastyari, the NSW party’s former general secretary and son-in-law of the late Kerry Packer’s chief “fixer”, Peter Barron.

Crikey has obtained a copy of the invitation, emailed to guests by John Della Bosca, a former senior cabinet minister and party general secretary from 1990 to 1999. It went to more than 80 MPs who have served in the NSW Parliament since 1983, the year Carr was elected for the south Sydney beachside suburb of Maroubra.

“I hope you will take the time to consider this invitation and attend the function,” Della Bosca wrote to Tripodi, Kelly et al. “I hope to see you there.”

Despite rising to become the state’s longest-serving premier and then switching to Canberra in 2012 to be foreign minister, Carr has not achieved the “favourite son” status of the late Neville Wran.

His capricious ambition has angered large sections of the party. For example, faction leaders chose him to be the No. 1 candidate on the NSW Senate ticket at the federal election in September last year. Carr won a six-year term but resigned a few months later, after contemplating the prospect of long years in opposition.

He then wrote a bestselling diary recounting his worldwide experiences as foreign minister, travelling first class all the way.

Meanwhile, Della Bosca’s emailed invitation to Tripodi and Kelly has dumbfounded many of the ex-ministers and MPs on the list. “It is either a mistake or a hoax,” one MP told Crikey. “I simply cannot believe either of them would be welcome at a dinner to honour Bob. I intend checking to see if either of them will be attending. If they are, I won’t be.”

This opinion is shared by other invitees contacted by Crikey.

Notwithstanding the highly questionable invitation to Tripodi, there was deep disquiet about the blanket call to attendees, which one potential guest described as “an encouragement to open up old war wounds”. He says some former MPs on the list still bear grudges over demotions they suffered; others were overlooked when portfolios were handed out; and many still carry scars from internal factional warfare.

For example, Paul “Critto” Crittenden, MP for Wyong from 1991 to 2007, held a BA and a Master of Commerce, and was knowledgeable on education, IT science and public administration. He annoyed party leaders by asking irritating questions at caucus meetings, and factional bosses labelled him “not a team player”. As a result, he never reached ministerial rank.

Will Crittenden bury his loathing of inner-party unfairness and cough up $150 to attend the dinner? What does he think of Della Bosca’s gushing email tribute: “Whatever ways your career intersected with Bob’s I’m sure you will agree that Bob’s work for and influence on our great cause should be recognized and acclaimed.”

Will former Newcastle MP Jodi McKay, victim of a Tripodi-sponsored sabotage campaign at the time of the 2011 election, be prepared to kiss and make up by attending the dinner? And what of Drummoyne MP Angela D’Amore and Paluzzano, who were hung out to dry by their parliamentary colleagues and lost their political careers?

One invitee who won’t be attending is former deputy premier Ron Mulock, a distinguished MP from 1971 to 1988. Della Bosca’s email was sent to him on September 3. Mulock died the next day aged 84.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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