What is in Wayne Swan’s first (last?) budget? Eight days to go and the messages have been confused to say the least. Don’t expect a big surplus. We are going to have a big surplus. Huge. Don’t expect big cuts. There are going to be killer cuts. Like a cane. Come here. Go away. Leading figures of the administration are tripping over themselves – and their baby bonuses – to sell the Government’s budget message, trouble is they all seem to be talking about a different document. The search, therefore, for a well-defined budgetary narrative continues.

Somewhere in the bowels of Parliament House, that master of co-ordinated delivery, Peter Costello, must be smirking up his sleeve. They may not always have been delivered for the purest of economic motives, but when it came to flogging the flavour of a budget in advance, when it came to the firm massaging of public expectation, Costello was the master. These new guys aren’t even in the ballpark. Or maybe they just haven’t made their minds up yet.