Surely they wouldn’t be that brazen. Not
the Treasurer. Not the Tax Commissioner. Surely no-one could be so
stupid as to ignore a 14-year-long corporate tax battle and then say
Rob Gerard is the model tax citizen at a personal level?

As
amazing as this sounds, it’s the truth. Rob Gerard and Michael Carmody
were embroiled in arguably the biggest corporate tax fight Australia
has seen and both wrote to Peter Costello, saying that nothing is wrong
at a “personal” level.

Who are these clowns taking for fools? Let’s extend this logic a little further.

Why
not appoint former HIH chairman Geoffrey Cohen as the next boss of
insurance regulator APRA? After all, Geoffrey wasn’t “personally”
responsible for the collapse – it was only the corporate vehicle.

Former
James Hardie CEO Peter McDonald would be a great chairman of the Dust
Diseases Board. Of course, he had nothing “personally” to do with
dodging asbestos liabilities, that was all the company’s work.

Share
scavenger David Tweed should be appointed to the ASX board because all
those dodgy low-ball offers were done by National Exchange Pty Ltd, not
Tweed “personally.”

Costello yesterday speculated that numerous companies with common directors with the Reserve Bank would have had tax disputes:

“I would be very surprised if there were not numbers of
directors from numbers of companies who have served on the Reserve Bank
board whose companies have not had disputes with the Australian
Taxation Office.”

That is strikingly disingenuous
because Gerard was the 50% shareholder in Gerard Industries and the
executive chairman. That is so different from someone like Dick
Warburton being punished because Southcorp, of which he was a director,
had some dispute with the tax office.

His personal financial
affairs were inextricably tied up with Gerard Industries, whereas
Southcorp was just one of six boards that Warburton sat on.

Then
you have the scale of the dispute and the nature of the allegations. A
battle in four different courts over 14 years is in a league of its own
compared with a situation like Southcorp claiming too much depreciation
on its grape crushing machines. Gerard was up to his eyeballs in exotic
tax havens, film finance deals and round robin constructions and when
caught out, he appears to have lied about it.

It wouldn’t be an
exaggeration to say that Rob Gerard probably has the dodgiest tax
record of any Australian Rich Lister. Even the argument about making no
admissions and the court not recording any adverse findings is limp
because Peter Costello’s own bureaucrats in the Tax Office concluded
that he was an agressive tax dodger of the worst order.

These
aren’t wild allegations in some commercial dispute. These were the
conclusions of highly trained, expert investigators after many years of
probing. The fact that Gerard eventually collapsed and handed over up
to $150 million speaks volumes about how the ATO had him cold.

Peter Costello’s defence is looking incredibly thin. He should cut his losses and request Gerard’s resignation forthwith.