M
isha Ketchell writes:

Amid all the political point scoring over what Peter Costello knew about
Rob Gerard’s tax affairs it seems the question of the Adelaide
businessman’s own culpability has slipped most people’s minds. As
Costello pointed out in question time the day the story broke:

Any person who is considered
for an appointment to any Commonwealth government body is required to
sign a declaration of interest which states that they have no private
interests, including those of a taxation nature, that would conflict
with their responsibilities or cause embarrassment to the government.

Crikey’s attempts to track down this declaration so far haven’t
borne much fruit. Gerard’s PR referred us back to the treasurer’s
office, as did a spokesman for the Reserve Bank. We’ve put in calls and
emails to Cossie’s office this morning but we’re yet to hear back,
which is a pity because Gerard’s declaration really should’ve been
released to the press a week ago to deflect some of the criticism aimed
at the Treasurer.

Why? Because if the declaration Gerard signed had the same standard
wording as the one signed by a Crikey source (below) then Gerard
mislead the Treasurer on several counts by incorrectly stating that he
had “not been associated with tax evasion or avoidance schemes” nor
“any matter which could cause embarrassment to the Commonwealth
Government.”

And while Gerard could claim that he was never actually found guilty of
tax evasion, the argument doesn’t hold much water. Anyone who signs the
statement below is claiming they’ve never been associated with
tax evasion or avoidance (or anything else embarrassing) – and in
Gerard’s case that’s plainly not true, and wasn’t true at the time he
was appointed.