The national sideshow starring Australia’s three amigo independents – Tony Windsor, Rob “let’s all get along” Oakeshott and Bob “your force from the North” Katter – continued yesterday as the trio of potential deal-makers requested to scrutinize Treasury costings of both the major parties.

Julia Gillard, described by Tony Wright in The Sydney Morning Herald as “drowning but still waving,” was more than happy to oblige and quickly gave the amigos’ request an A-OK, willing them to join her in a round of “dear little buttercup, with the sweetest smile…”

But cranky pants “stop the boats” Abbott, on the other hand, wasn’t having a bar of it. He refused point black and – says Peter Hartcher – “folded his arms and jammed his fingers in his ears.”

At this point in time, you’d think both leaders would be prepared to bend over backwards and throw in a few cartwheels to cater for the men who, now with unprecedented power, are capable of selecting which party can form a minority government.

This makes Abbott’s refusal to comply all the more curious. Why not cater to the three amigo’s whims? Why not throw in a few foot rubs too? Has Abbott got something to hide? Is he concealing some streak-marked economic underwear tucked inside the budgies?

Here’s how the pundits reported it.

The Australian

Dennis Shanahan: Forget three amigos, let’s go back to polls

Abbott’s refusal last night to pander to the demand of the three independents to break the caretaker convention is right but will be used against him by an increasingly desperate government.

Tony Abbott under pressure to give into independents’ demand

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has agreed but Mr Abbott has refused, instead insisting they rely on modelling from a private accounting firm. Mr Katter said Mr Abbott’s “intransigence” on this issue would make it harder for the independents to support him becoming prime minister.

ABC News

Abbott’s hidden costings a ‘bad look’

However Mr Abbott says Treasury should not be providing that advice on the Coalition’s plans, and says the Opposition instead wants to hand in its own costings analysis. Kennedy MP Mr Katter told ABC TV’s Lateline that Mr Abbott’s refusal makes it look as though he has something to hide.

Sydney Morning Herald

Peter Hartcher: Gillard’s flexibility makes her difficult to reject

Is Abbott frightened or cocky? Is he determined to hide the truth of the Coalition’s budget arithmetic from public view? Or just very confident that he will ultimately win the support of the three independents in any case? In either case, it is a bad look. He just made it harder for the independents to agree to support an Abbott government.

Phillip Coorey: The seven steps to power

Under pressure last night, Mr Abbott in effect discredited the Charter of Budget Honesty by saying Treasury was incapable of costing opposition promises.

Tony Wright: Abbott’s refusal on costings does not stack up

Tony Abbott knew that if he agreed for Treasury’s costing of his policies to be made public, he ran the strong risk the verdict would be in line with Labor’s estimate – that the policies blow out the budget bottom line by $5 billion over the next four years – rather than the Coalition’s claim that they would improve it by $11 billion.

The Age

Michelle Grattan: Abbott refuses key demand

Opposing the independents’ call for official costing of his policies, Mr Abbott said that, instead, he would make all shadow ministers available to discuss policies, as well as the accounting firm WHK Howarth, which the Coalition used during the election campaign.

Grogs Gamut

Election 2010: Extra Time (or, Seven Habits of Highly Effective Independents

Abbott not wanting the Treasury to go through his costings at his point is a bit like me saying the ATO won’t be able to understand my tax return with the same depth as does my private accountant, so just trust me on what I say I am due as a refund. Sorry, but that dog won’t hunt.