There’s some commentary that Tony Abbott and the Liberals might be best served by sitting back, allowing Labor into minority government and watching the ensuing chaos deliver it government at the next poll.

No politician worth their salt, and certainly not a fighter like Tony Abbott, ever turns up an opportunity to obtain power. At the very least, you’re the master of your own destiny, even in minority government. Look at Steve Bracks, who secured the support of three independents, supplanted Jeff Kennett and went on to run the best government in the country in the last decade-and-a-half.

But there’s a factor that makes the current negotiating process particularly critical for both sides. The economy is roaring ahead, and so are mining profits, meaning the Budget position is almost certainly going to be far stronger than forecast.

Earlier this week we were hearing all about surging, indeed spectacular mining profits driven by unflagging Chinese demand. What was missing from the coverage, especially from the Australian Financial Review, which along with News Limited and some Business Spectator commentators ran a campaign of deliberate and sustained deception about the RSPT, was just how absurd this torrent of mining revenue makes the gloom and doom we were told was on the verge of overtaking the industry in the event the government imposed its tax. Indeed, it’s only a week or two since the AFR was giving front-page coverage to claims the Australian mining industry was permanently damaged by the Rudd government.

Behold the damage — profits so big they’ve driven a turnaround in the current account deficit.

It will also drive a rise in company tax revenue and will, assuredly, in time drive the Australian dollar punishingly high, and interest rates as well.

Today’s 1.2% surge in GDP suggests the concerns of earlier this year about private sector growth failing to kick in and replace the stimulus-induced growth were unfounded, although construction is still a key growth driver.

So whichever party secures power will face the advantages and disadvantages of a booming economy. The higher interest rates and skills and housing shortages will be a pain, but it will also deliver considerable extra revenue, meaning the politicians can get back to what they like best: spending and handing out tax cuts. This will have been a good election to win, although you can assume that regional porkbarrelling will have first call on those extra mining revenues.

Given the stakes, Julia Gillard has played a poor hand well so far. Repudiated by voters, barely keeping an angry party in check, faced with three conservative rural independents, she has given the impression of being constructive and positive. Yesterday’s Press Club appearance seems designed simply to continue to give the impression of stability, calm and momentum. It was utterly devoid of content, with Gillard even unwilling to describe the parliamentary reforms she’d offered the independents, except for a key messages that she wouldn’t be undermining the Budget bottom line to meet the demands of the non-aligned MPs, and she wouldn’t be reversing on tariffs.

Accordingly it didn’t come as much of a surprise when Andrew Wilkie declared that he wasn’t overly impressed with Gillard’s response to his wishlist, which if implemented would run to tens of billions of dollars. Any major party seriously committing funding to that agenda would wreck the Budget.

Tony Abbott, who part by temperament, part by the constitutional role assigned to him, has appeared reactive and truculent so far in the negotiation process, now has the chance to garner the vote of Wilkie, which would be ironic indeed given what the Coalition did to Wilkie, and the fact that one of its MPs is said to have been instrumental in leaking the notorious top-secret report designed to damage him. The Coalition is claiming it has far more fiscal wriggle room to throw money at the independents than Labor, a claim that will probably last about five minutes at the hands of Treasury, but it’s a convenient position to take as it tries to secure government. The truth won’t emerge until after a government has been formed, by which time it will be too late to cause any damage.

In any event, it doesn’t matter if there’s a multi-billion dollar fudge in the Coalition’s costings, because given the strength of the mining boom, it’ll likely swamp it with extra revenue.

Which would be a nice outcome, given the Coalition has got quite a bit of the way here by insisted the mining industry was at death’s door.