Where has the Adelaide Advertiser been in the long brawl between the ATO and its hometown business tyro Rob Gerard?

Well
here’s the answer: it was onto the story within days of Gerard’s
appointment to the Reserve Bank board in 2003, but quickly dropped the
ball and was scooped this week – two years after its first report – by
the Sydney-based Financial Review.

This is what the ‘Tiserreports today on the Gerard row:

On March 28, 2003, three days after Mr Gerard’s appointment, The Advertiser
reported on his court battle with the Australian Taxation Office and
put the amount being claimed by the ATO in taxes, penalties and
interest as $70.3 million.

[Labor shadow Treasurer Wayne] Swan furnished The Advertiser article
as evidence Mr Gerard’s tax battle was public knowledge at the time of
the board appointment. Mr Costello said if that were the case, Labor
should have raised the matter then.

As today’s AFR noted: “The documents relating to Gerard Industries’
dispute obtained by the AFR, including a 2000 audit report have been
available to the public in the Supreme Court registry in Adelaide since
2002, well before Mr Gerard was appointed to the RBA”.

So
why didn’t the ‘Tiser pursue its own story then – and why is it
downplaying it now? There’s not even a mention of Gerard on the front
page of today’s Advertiser.

After all, Rob Gerard is a
really big wheel in South Australia, and although his company is now
French-owned, Gerard himself remains a leading member of the city’s
business and political establishment.

He and his company are big
supporters of local sport (the Adelaide Crows) and cultural events (the
Festival of Adelaide). It’s hard to move anywhere in Adelaide business
and political circles without running into the influence of Gerard and
his companies.

Is that the real reason why the loyally parochial Adelaide Advertiser has downplayed the tax activities of its hometown-boy-made-good?