What is the point of a public officer?
Basically, the tax law requires companies to have a public officer in case they ever have a problem contacting the company directly. This person is the Tax Office's official point-of-contact in relation to the company.
For example, the ITAA 1936 states that the public officer "shall be answerable for the doing of all such things as are required to be done by the company under this Act or the regulations, and in case of default shall be liable to the same penalties."
In addition, "(e)verything done by the public officer which he is required to do in his representative capacity shall be deemed to have been done by the company."
The ATO can also serve documents on, or give notices to, the public officer, and this will be taken to be sufficient service upon the company.
The public officer is also answerable for other tax-related actions of the company, such as record keeping and submitting company tax returns.