Wayne Swan's Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook has delivered the surplus Australia's economic debate deserves.

It's chock-full of fiddles, pea-and-thimble tricks, "rephasings" of spending, the full set of accounting tricks plus a few new ones: the grab for lost super accounts ($550 million, and right away please) will probably earn some Treasury officer a Public Service Medal. Like the switch to monthly company tax instalments, it's a one-off, though of generous proportions (the company tax change won't kick in for more than 12 months and won't affect the surplus). Plus there's the usual tax rises described as "savings", a word that this government has twisted beyond all meaning. Not to mention yet another downward revision in revenue from the MRRT, a dog of a tax dictated to a wounded government by three multinational mining companies, one of which is one of the world's great tax dodgers.