Smearing the innocent to protect the possibly guilty. That’s how this Australian Crime Commission expose looks to me. A perfect example of why we should not have secret bodies with extraordinary powers.

A date well chosen. Evidence to a Senate committee this week shows the wisdom of not waiting until after the football grand finals to hold the federal election. By October the final extent of the broken promise about bringing down a surplus budget for this financial year will be known. But by September 14 there is no likelihood of the actual figure being known.

Department of Finance head David Tune told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra that although the final budget outcome was released on September 10 in 2004, since then there had been a change to international accounting standards which meant an additional two weeks of auditing. “You are pushing up against September 30 deadline nearly all the times these days,” Tune told the opposition’s junior treasury spokesman Mathias Cormann.

When the senator asked whether it would be possible to release it before the election, Tune said: “I think it would be very difficult.”

And that, for the government, will be very convenient.

Almost as convenient as the Liberals maintaining that they will not be able to finalise their election promise costings until after the release by the the secretaries of Treasury and Finance of their pre-election economic and fiscal outlook (PEFO) statement within 10 days of the parliament being dissolved ahead of an election.

Our man is in the Papal betting. Too early yet for a Crikey Papal Election Indicator. We need the market to settle a little and for the betting exchanges to begin operating. But here are the opening offerings of some of the world’s major bookmakers and I note that Sydney’s own George Pell is at least on the list of some of them.

News and views noted along the way.