By Stephen Mayne

This was the lead in item two from yesterday’s Crikey Daily:

Tax commissioner Michael Carmody is not someone who generally causes a laugh.
But his interview with Alan Kohler on Inside Business yesterday was most amusing because of the five second silence before the following

ALAN KOHLER: Just on another matter, there are suggestions that the
Tax Office is investigating Steve Vizard for tax related issues, are you able to
comment on that?

MICHAEL CARMODY: I can’t comment on our investigations
of any individual. That’s just not permitted by law for very good

When denying something or refusing to comment, it’s best
to be decisive. But the huge silence was as good a confirmation that you’ll ever
get from the ATO. Alas, Kohler called this morning to say that the five-second silence
was actually an editing mistake. The process started with the ATO
putting out a press release on its low-doc loan clampdown, so an
interview was set up. Kohler asked the questions from his desk in
Melbourne over a phone line to Carmody who was being filmed in Canberra.
Kohler was then filmed asking those same questions later while sitting
in front of a screen showing Carmody’s answers.

It was still a great interview for Inside Business
because Carmody’s revelation that 500 people are involved in the
offshore tax avoidance investigation made headlines in most of Monday’s
papers. Similarly, as Anne Lampe points out in our feedback section
today, Carmody’s big smile was also a pretty clear indication that the
tax man is taking a close interest in Vizard’s affairs.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey