This is what Peter Costello told parliament last week after the story of Robert Gerard’s dispute with the tax office broke:

ask whether I would be aware of a tax investigation into an
individual’s affairs is basically to ask whether I would breach the
secrecy act and demand documents or investigations with regard to
particular taxpayers. I would no more demand them in relation to Mr
Gerard than I would demand them in relation to the member for Lilley.
Imagine if tax investigations or taxpayers’ affairs were given to
politicians, Mr Speaker! Can you imagine the proper political outcry
that there would be? I am very surprised that the question has actually
been asked.

And this is what Elizabeth Coleman reported in
The Australian

most senior adviser regularly phoned Taxation Commissioner Michael
Carmody to carry out checks on individuals and companies but was denied
crucial information on Reserve Bank candidate Robert Gerard. In an
attempt to shift the blame for Mr Gerard’s appointment to Mr Carmody,
the Treasurer said his chief of staff, Philip Gaetjens, often phoned
the Tax Commissioner to talk “about people and companies.”

Can we get this straight? Even though the private tax affairs of individuals
and companies are protected by law from prying politicians, the Treasurer’s
chief-of-staff was in the habit of ringing the tax commissioner to find
out about them? Either he was remarkably undeterred by some short and fruitless
conversations or there’s something Cossie’s not telling us…