In opposition, Tony Abbott promised Australians they would get a "no-surprises" government.
"We will be a no-surprises, no-excuses government, because you are sick of nasty surprises and lame excuses from people that you have trusted with your future," Abbott vowed at his campaign launch in August.
But two months since the election, it's increasingly becoming apparent that a "no-surprises" government is coming at the cost of open government.
Since winning office, Abbott has fronted the nation's media just eight times. Calls to his office, and to his ministers, frequently go unanswered or unreturned.
During the week, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop was a star speaker at the Australian Council for International Development conference in Canberra. The two-day event was open to the public, including the media - except for Bishop's speech. It's understood the media was barred at the request of the minister, who is tasked with enforcing the government's $4.5 billion cut to foreign aid over the next four years.
Announcing the government would respond to Australia's ballooning credit card bill by almost doubling the borrowing limit to half a trillion dollars, Treasurer Joe Hockey held a 10-minute press conference and took few questions.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has radically overhauled the approach of his department and others to information about asylum seekers. No longer does Customs issue advice about boats in distress en route to Australia. No longer is information on boats arriving in Australian territorial waters released to the public as soon as it comes to hand. Nor is the rebadged Department of Immigration and Border Protection authorised to provide previously innocuous information about asylum seekers.
Now, as The Australian Financial Review's James Massola revealed a fortnight ago, Morrison has been joined each week in Sydney for briefings either by acting operational commander Air Marshal Mark Binskin or full-time commander Angus Campbell, who have travelled at taxpayers' expense each week, four staff in tow, to sit side by side with the minister and field questions.
Given the briefings are held in Morrison's home state of Sydney, rather than in Canberra, the press gallery responsible for covering federal politics cannot attend, and so the number of journalists attending has dwindled.
At his briefing last Friday, Morrison said that, "Contrary to some media reports this week, Manus Island is not at capacity, and an additional more than 400 places will also be available by the end of next week."
Commander Campbell said there were 1101 people being held on Manus and 682 in Nauru. But asked what the capacity was at Nauru, Manus Island and Christmas Island - centres that are being supported with billions of dollars in public money - Morrison said: "We don't report on what the capacity is at both of those places, only to say that there is sufficient capacity and we're expanding that capacity."
Government sources maintain there's no attempt to hide the Prime Minister or his ministers from scrutiny; there is just no interest in repeating the mistakes an over-exposed Labor made in government.
They insist that indiscriminately releasing any information including the nationalities of asylum seekers, the routes they are taking, whether the boats are carrying children and how many more could fit into our offshore detention centres, could broadcast a "sales brochure" to people smugglers.
In general, says one, Abbott's motto is that if you've got something to say, then say it. "But if you don't have something to say, then don't do it. You're just making noise."
The strict control on information being run from the Prime Minister's office - directed by Abbott and his chief of staff Peta Credlin - is causing ructions in the federal public service, responsible for delivering the new government's agenda.
Already rattled by the looming axe that will fall on 12,000 jobs (many within the service doubt that many can be found by natural attrition alone), the public service is doubly rattled by the centralisation of decision-making within the Prime Minister's Office.
Public service sources report at least two ministers have made themselves known to their public servants only by conveying the message, "don't f--- it up".
One section head said: "His [the minister's] office won't tell us much".
"Pretty much all we've heard is, 'I want no f----ups'. No one wants to upset the minister, but he needs to talk to us. There's a lot of confusion, at the EL [middle management] level at least, about what we're meant to be doing. Some of us are doing nothing because we're waiting for answers from the minister."
This, in turn, is affecting the flow of information to the public.
AusAID, which has been rolled into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as of Friday, has been telling journalists it could take a week, or more, to provide information previously released within hours. Other departments and ministers' offices have simply failed to return calls and emails.
Australian National University emeritus professor Richard Mulgan says when the Coalition was in opposition - despite its critiques of Labor's "chaos" and lack of transparency - it did not have a government process agenda. "I don't think they've come with a very strong commitment to making government more open, but they haven't come with an open commitment to make it less open, put it that way. It just doesn't seem to be one of their main values.
"I think there are two things here. One is that everyone remarked on how disciplined the Coalition was in opposition; it controlled its own message and kept everybody in line very effectively, and quite naturally they want to extend the same sort of discipline and control to government. And I think that that message has gone out - it's gone out to ministers as well as public servants.
"But the other important thing is, I think, that the senior public servants' overriding goal at the moment will be to try to secure the trust of the incoming government against a background of distrust among some members of the government and particularly among its main supporting community, for instance in the business community and so on, a sense that the public service is not necessarily to be trusted to support a right-of-centre government as much as a left-of-centre government."
The list of roadblocks is growing.
In 2010, Treasury and 15 other departments released under freedom of information laws partly redacted versions of "red books", the briefs prepared in advance for a re-elected government to the media and to the then Coalition opposition.
But this year, requests for the Treasury, Prime Minister and Cabinet and Attorney-General's department "blue books", or advice prepared for an incoming government, have been flatly rejected. The documents typically provide a frank assessment of the party's election policies and the public service's view of the economy and other information designed to allow a smooth transition between governments.
The Treasury official responsible for the decision wrote that "release of the incoming government briefs would interfere with the establishment of an effective working relationship between the Treasury and Treasurer".
"The need to develop a trusting relationship is particularly important in the early days of a new government, to set the tone for the future working relationship of the whole department.
"Disclosure of the incoming government brief would not be conducive to establishing a productive, trusting and effective relationship with the Treasurer and would adversely affect Treasury's effectiveness as a central policy agency, which I also find to be contrary to the public interest."
Peter Timmins, a lawyer specialising in freedom of information, says Treasury's refusal to release its advice to the incoming government was in clear breach of the public interest.
"It's been in the Freedom of Information Act for 30 years that advice, opinions, recommendations, in the course of the operations of an agency isn't protected - except if, on balance, it would be contrary to the public interest to disclose it," he said.
"I think certainly parts of that brief that are Treasury views about the state of the economy, Treasury's view about a range of economic issues, I think there'd be a very strong public interest in disclosure of that information."
Last week Abbott's department said it would keep secret its first briefing for the Prime Minister because disclosure of its advice would be contrary to the public interest.
At least five departments have now refused outright to release incoming government briefs, while another five have asked for fees of up to $2356 to release the information that previous governments have released.
No rules have changed; the departments are now simply refusing to release them under the same rules that previously applied.
Attorney-General George Brandis' office provided a clue about what's going on. Asked whether Senator Brandis' office had discussed with the Attorney-General's department the handling of FOI requests for its incoming government briefs, it refused to comment.
Asked whether Senator Brandis' office had provided any advice or guidance, written or verbal, to any other departments or agencies or ministerial offices on handling FOI requests for their incoming government briefs, Senator Brandis' office said: "The Attorney-General may, from time to time, provide guidance to the government on the operation of the FOI Act."
And asked whether Brandis supported a recommendation of the recent review of FOI laws by former public servant and diplomat Allan Hawke - that incoming government briefs be exempt from FOI - Brandis' office said: "The government is closely considering all recommendations of the Hawke Review."
The Coalition's policy blueprint, Real Solutions, promised a new era of transparent government.
"The Coalition will do the right thing for Australia and deliver a strong, stable, accountable government that puts the national interest first and delivers a better future for all Australians," it vowed.
"We will restore accountability and improve transparency measures to be more accountable to you."
But accountability and transparency, it soon emerged, will be tempered by Abbott's judgment about what the public needs to hear.
On the day he announced his new ministry, Abbott said: "I am not going to commit to talking unless I've got something to say.
"I think that there's been far too much empty talk from people who should know better at senior levels of government over the last few years."
Launching his election campaign in August, Abbott said Labor had squandered the faith of voters.
"The worst deficit is not the budget deficit but the trust deficit," he said. "This election is all about trust."
It remains to be seen how the new government will honour that trust. Or whether he has noted the example of former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu, who was unceremoniously dumped after pursuing a similar less-is-more strategy.
On his election to power in 2010, Baillieu declared: "There will be no hidden agenda, no spin, no secrecy. Accountability and transparency will be the principles that underpin our government."
Soon however, critics began calling Baillieu a "do nothing" leader, and he was being blamed for refusing to engage with the media and judged harshly for his uncomfortable presence in front of the TV cameras, which was seen - rightly or wrongly - as an inability or unwillingness to defend unpopular policy.
smh.com.au, with Markus Mannheim and Dan Harrison
What we haven't been told
- Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop's speech to the Australian Council for International Development conference in Canberra is closed to the media.
- Treasurer Joe Hockey holds a 10-minute press conference, and refuses to take many questions, announcing the government will almost double the borrowing limit to $500 billion.
- Treasury refuses to release advice to the new government on the state of the economy and other issues, claiming its release "would interfere with the establishment of an effective working relationship between the Treasury and Treasurer".
- The capacity at the Manus Island (PNG) and Nauru offshore asylum seeker processing centres and the Christmas Island processing centre.