THE mining tax and its amazing disappearing benefits are, to many, as confusing as the sports doping investigation.
Not to Kevin Rudd, however.
Mr Rudd inhabits a sub-faction of the Labor Party known as Planet Kevin. The larger faction, headed by Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan, is currently known as the World of Hurt.
Planet Kevin chose Tuesday to explain the intricacies of the mining tax in a style not entirely designed to alleviate the pain level of the World of Hurt, which has suffered ever-increasing levels of agony since Mr Swan was required to explain that the tax had reaped $126 million in six months, rather short of the billion or so previously forecast.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and his arithmetic man, Joe Hockey, have been having a particularly jolly time tormenting the World of Hurt in the days since. This might seem curious to the rational, for $126 million is exactly $126 million more than they would reap from the miners, who they don't want to tax at all. In opposition, freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.
Kevin Rudd, of course, lost everything through his version of the mining tax. You may recall that in 2010 the big miners, infuriated at the idea they might have to pay a slice of their super profits to the nation, went berserk, and Rudd's colleagues dumped him as prime minister.
In politics, timing is everything. With the latest version of the mining tax receiving appalling reviews and Ms Gillard and Mr Swan deep in their World of Hurt, Mr Rudd clearly felt it was the perfect time to offer assistance.
The mining tax, whatever the version, was never his, he offered helpfully. No. It was Swan's, right from the start.
Best, perhaps, to quote him directly from an interview on Sky TV on Tuesday. He was not impressed at the interviewer's suggestion he had created the original mining tax.
''Well,'' said Rudd, ''The origin of the mining tax, as you know, came from the Henry Review which was established by the Treasurer [Wayne Swan]. The Treasurer brought it to the relevant ministers of the government including then deputy prime minister [Julia Gillard] and myself. We supported the Treasurer's decision.''
Interviewer, David Speers: Sorry, Wayne Swan's proposal for the mining tax?
Rudd: ''Yeah, yeah, and the government supported him, led by myself and other senior ministers. Of course after the government's leadership changed, the Treasurer and the new Prime Minister elected to make some significant changes to the structure of the tax. I think we are all familiar with what those changes are. So, I think in terms of any future changes to the tax, given the fact that it has not collected any real revenue of any significance so far, that really is a matter for the Prime Minister and the Treasurer to consider and I'll leave it with them …''
Planet Kevin maintained a perfectly serious face, but you could almost hear the heart singing. If revenge is a dish best served cold, he was ladling dry ice.