The front page headlines said it all

John Howard has been all over the airwaves this morning having spoken
to Today, Sunrise, AM and various other radio stations across the
country. His office was even calling people like powerful ABC Tasmania
morning host Tim Cox yesterday to line up interviews.

Unfortunately, he is constantly bumping into words like “bribe”, “cynical”, “reckless” and “early election”.

The papers have rarely been so united in their interpretation with only
the Adelaide Advertiser going the local angle. Try these front page
headlines for size:

“Money Galore” – Herald Sun
“Costello goes vote shopping” – The Age
“The Mother of all spending sprees” – Sydney Morning Herald
“Costello’s $37bn vote grab” – The Australian Financial Review
“Costello’s family affair” – The Australian
“Hey, big spender” – The Hobart Mercury
“Wine tax win” – The Adelaide Advertiser
“Go forth and multiply” – The Courier Mail
“Payback” – The Daily Telegraph
” A fist full of dollars” – The West Australian

What the commentators said

As usual, forests have been destroyed as all sorts of commentators
offer up their opinion on arguably the biggest news day of the year.

SMH economics editor Ross Gittens told the 7.30 Report how profligate the budget was, but his column today spells out just how selective the largesse is: Good old Pete, but beware the creep

The SMH editorial makes the point that never before has so much been targeted exclusively on higher income earners.

Yet Piers Akerman writes in The Daily Telegraph that never before has so many benefits been targeted at so many voting groups.

The Daily Telegraph editorial concludes its editorial with a reference to “pork and barrels”.

The Tele’s David Pemberthy had quite a good piece decoding the political speak.

Peter Costello sounded a little flat on radio this morning and this might have been after reading Alan Kohler’s column in The Age and SMH in which he was accused of handing down the most profligate budget in history.

Even the normally polite Stephen “win-win” Bartholomeusz accused Costello of adopting a “rent-a-vote” strategy.

The Oz’s Paul Kelly
also sees votes in the Budget, saying the Government would like people
to focus on the booming economy, rather than quagmire in Iraq.

Alan Wood
at The Oz said while there was nothing radical in terms of tax reform from Costello,
neither side of politics is really ready for fundamental tax reform.

Meanwhile The Oz editorial says Costello’s Budget challenges Mark Latham on his own turf.

At The Courier-Mail, Matthew Franklin
was appalled at the misuse of public money, which follows the
Budget. In particular the $26 million Budget advertising campaign.

The Courier-Mail editorial was cautious in it reception of the Budget, citing holes such as the much-anticipated roads package.

Peter Fray

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