Treasurer Peter Costello doesn’t follow advice but does follow orders. That’s today’s topic of political discussion.
The Financial Review
has continued its Rob Gerard revelations today, obtaining documents
showing there was concern within Treasury about Gerard’s appointment to
the Reserve Bank board.
Gerard, of course, resigned from the board late last year after allegations of tax evasion were made public.
documents show that the Adelaide businessman was a second choice to
fill the board position in 2002, and that the department had flagged
concerns about his ties with the Liberal Party, the Fin reports.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
documents also reveal Costello had repeatedly rejected Treasury’s
suggestions of appointees, instead seeking the names of Business
Council of Australia members and Australian Chamber of Commerce and
Industry directors, such as Gerard.
According to the ABC,
Costello’s opposite number Wayne Swan is saying this means Treasury did
not support the businessman’s appointment – that Gerard was nominated
for a position on the Board by Costello, not by Treasury
It’s a fair assumption from the Fin‘s documents that Costello didn’t follow his department’s advice, although there’s nothing unusual about that.
can we make the assumption that Costello wasn’t entirely happy with
this situation – that he was ignoring advice and following orders to
put Gerard on the RBA Board, being the loyal deputy? Who might those
orders have come from?
Well, who can possibly forget this little Question Time exchange from the beginning of last month. It was probably Cossie’s best performance ever:
Mr BEAZLEY (3.07 p.m.)—My question is to the Treasurer. I
refer the Treasurer to the fact that the Prime Minister yesterday told
the ABC program the Insiders:
Peter came to me and said, ‘What about Robert Gerard?’
Did the Treasurer say that to the Prime Minister?
COSTELLO—I probably said, ‘Mr Prime Minister, how are you today?’ Then,
having got on his right side, I said, ‘You are looking fit and healthy
as per normal.’ After going through the formalities, since we were
looking for somebody who is a manufacturer, preferably from outside
Sydney or Melbourne, I think I would have said to him, ‘What about Mr
Rob Gerard?’ And I have never seen such an enthusiastic response in all
my life. Having had such an enthusiastic response, the next thing we
did was to go into cabinet. We said to the cabinet, ‘What about Mr Rob
I do not want to gild the lily but all of the South
Australian cabinet ministers started swinging from the rafters saying,
‘What a wonderful idea it is to have a South Australian on the Reserve
Bank board!’ Let me let you into a secret: some of those South
Australian ministers are very agile and very flexible when they swing
from the rafters. There was unanimous support in the cabinet.
The bloke either had a lot to hide – or a lot to be angry about. Plus a lot at stake. Ambitions and three kids to support, what?