Yesterday Treasurer Wayne Swan took election campaign shenanigans to new lows with his pre-emptive rebuttal to the Coalition’s costings announcement.

As shadow treasurer Joe Hockey and shadow finance minister Andrew Robb delayed their announcement, tipping past the fatal 4pm mark and sending the evening media news hounds howling, Swan decided not to wait any longer.

Instead, he slammed the Coalition for its  “slapstick comedy” … and then proceeded to roll out a response to a set of numbers that had yet to be announced.

Then there was this edifying exchange:

Q: Did you have a costings release in the last campaign and was [leader Kevin Rudd] present?
A: We certainly had a costings release in the last campaign.

Q: Was [Rudd] present?
A: I couldn’t tell you who was there . . .

Q: Can’t remember?
A: I can’t tell you who was at the last one in the last campaign.

Q: But you were there though?
A: I may have been there at the last campaign, yeah.

Meanwhile, none of the evening news outlets had any time to seriously examine the costings, and the Coalition’s much-touted cuts. Instead, they were handed a figure — a surplus of $6.2 billion by 2012/13, nearly double the current government projection.

No time to work out how they diddled the numbers, just the take home message: our surplus is bigger than their surplus. Sing it.

Yet another subtle example of how both main parties have continued to treat the public with contempt in this campaign.