probably seen enough photos of Rob Gerard this week to get an
impression of the bloke – big, boofy, mussy hair at all that. Scarcely
the sleek and subtle type.

Which makes comparisons between his
statements and what’s been said in Question Time this week very
interesting. Let’s have a look at Wednesday’s Hansard (p.48):

SWAN (2.40 pm)—My question is to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer
to his interview on ABC’s AM program this morning in which the
Treasurer denied having had referred to him any letters between Mr
Gerard’s lawyers and the Attorney-General about Mr Gerard’s court
proceedings. Aside from the letters, did the Treasurer, the Treasurer’s
office or a representative of the Treasurer have any discussions with
the former Attorney-General or his office about this matter?

COSTELLO—I am informed by the Attorney-General that there was no letter
to the Attorney-General. I am also informed by the Attorney-General
that it was not referred to any minister and, if I am right—because I
assumed you would be asking this question—because there was no letter,
there was never a letter referred to the Attorney-General. So that ends
that one. Because no matter was ever referred to the Attorney, there
was nothing the Attorney could ever raise with me, nor did he.

Then have a look at John Garnaut’s yarn “Gerard’s $75m to settle tax ‘sham’” in today’s SMH:

The Tax Office abandoned its serious claim of “tax evasion”
against Gerard Industries and ultimately levied no penalties, despite
its investigators finding that the company’s elaborate tax haven
insurance dealings were a “sham” designed to evade tax.

details of his family company’s confidential tax settlement for the
first time, the Reserve Bank board member Robert Gerard said through
his barrister yesterday that he had paid “just over” $75 million to
settle unpaid taxes and interest – but none of the onerous penalties
that apply for tax fraud or evasion…

The settlement, agreed in
late 2002 but not finalised until a year later, closely followed a
letter from Mr Gerard to the then federal attorney-general, Daryl
Williams, urging him to “urgently intervene” because he was getting a
“hard time” from the Tax Office.

The letter, dated October 18,
2002, was promptly passed to the Tax Commissioner, Michael Carmody. Tax
professionals yesterday expressed surprise at the gap between the Tax
Office’s harsh findings in this case and the lack of any punishment.

Spot the difference?

Yesterday in Parliament, the Treasurer rejected Gerard’s defence. Dennis Shanahan and Elizabeth Colman have a good wrap of this in the Oz today – but it ain’t a good look for a putative PM.