Scott Morrison's weekend assurance that there had been no safety-of-life-at-sea event to report on because he was not reporting on one, was the kind of doughnut logic only a technocrat could love – circular and noticeably hollow.
It argued that people should trust their representatives and if nothing was being said, nothing was happening.
Scott Morrison has refused to discuss reports two boatloads of asylum seekers are being held on an Australian customs vessel off Christmas Island. Photo: Andrew Meares
This would be a bold argument from any government at any time, but from a Border Protection Minister who has routinely asserted the obverse principle of directed opacity to maintain ''operational'' integrity, it asked for a lot of trust.
The minister's doorstop press conference in Melbourne on Saturday was about as nourishing as a doughnut too.
Fairfax Media had reported that morning that an asylum seeker boat was nearing Australia from India, carrying 153 Tamils including women and children with some in poor health.
People on that vessel had made contact with journalists. Morrison not only refused to confirm the presence of any vessel, but pilloried the reports as ''speculation'' and actively led reporters to the conclusion that they were wrong.
The craft – presumably – has since been located and intercepted by Australian authorities.
Rumours of a second boat from Indonesia, have been dismissed by Morrison on Monday as ''curious'', whatever that means.
It is just another case of the absence of official information creating its own problems.
Important questions remain about the condition of the Indian vessel, the health of its occupants, their legal status, and their immediate future.
Clearly the prospect of boats originating from ports other than Indonesia presents new challenges for an already problematic policy of turn-backs at sea.
Assuming in this case that they cannot be returned to the transit country of India, might an attempt be made to refoul them to Sri Lanka and if so, what if they were legitimately fleeing physical persecution or worse?
These are no small questions either in international law or in human morality.
Perhaps the government's initial reluctance to acknowledge this particular ''on water'' matter is also partly explained by its embarrassing proximity to the June 19 declaration of success in stopping the boats for a full six months.
Morrison, who knows this policy area better than anyone, moved to ''clarify'' a slightly ebullient interpretation of this milestone by his boss, Tony Abbott.
''One point, just as we leave,'' he corrected at the pair's joint press conference that day, ''on the people smuggling issue and that is, it is true that we haven't seen those departures now out of Indonesia for some time but I just want to assure everybody that our assumption remains that they will always try.''
Yet for all that claimed readiness, this latest event seems to have caught Canberra on the hop and as usual, its first recourse is to secrecy.