Ah, the time-honoured rituals of the Australian fiscal cycle.

In the first week of May, every year, as tension and excitement -- well, OK, mild interest -- mounts in Canberra over the last remaining unleaked details of the budget, economic consultants Access Economics (these days part of Deloitte) produces its own economic and fiscal forecasts, in accordance with its status as a sort of alternative, private sector Treasury. The media accords these forecasts the same status as if they were inscribed on stone tablets and hauled down from Black Mountain nearby, and Chris Richardson, with his finely honed instinct for the proximity of any live camera or microphone, is all over the media, speaking authoritatively about what will happen in the coming years.