While Crikey writers are banned from the Budget lock-up on 10 May
because we’re not “mainstream media”, it turns out that a youth website
called Vibewire.net has no such problems. Vibewire has been allocated
two places in the lock-up and is advertising for “two young writers
aged 16-30 … to cover the upcoming Federal Budget from the inside”.
As uni student Simon writes:

I’m a university student and this little number
fell into my inbox on Tuesday. Seems that a few littl’ns on the back of
the mainstream are very influential. Vibewire.net can get two punks
with zero credentials in the Big Room with the Big Men for the Big
Speech on the Big Dollars, and your boys in the trenches are being
scoffed at as they are shut out. Now I’m not against the idea of two of
my contemporaries in generation X-land removing their iPods for three
hours or so to engage with the real world, but I think it does raise
some interesting questions about by which criteria these youthful
additions could be considered mainstream. Pours a little kero on the
conspiracy fire though, doesn’t it?

PS. Don’t feel bad, I still
really like you guys. Maybe you could dress Hugo up in a pair of Tsubi
jeans, give him a designer mullet and send him incognito as one of the
two under 30s?

Here’s the Vibewire ad looking for reporters to cover the Budget Crikey can’t.

And we ask the Press Gallery chief about the ban:

Yesterday
we spoke to Paul Bongiorno, acting president of the Canberra press
gallery and Channel 10’s political reporter and presenter of Meet The Press. He was as mystified by the ban as we are.

Bongiorno
said they had only recently approved a request for two of our
reporters, Hugo Kelly and Christian Kerr, to join the press gallery.
And it wasn’t even close to being a hard decision. “We assessed the
request and consider the work that Hugo and Christian do is genuine
journalism,” he said. “Hugo reports almost daily on parliamentary
issues. We have no problems with his bona fides, or that Crikey.com.au
is a media outlet that does journalistic work”.’

So if the
gallery is sanguine about Crikey’s presence, what could possibly be
behind the ban by a treasury official? Bongiorno said that attendence
at the lock-up remained the “gift of the treasurer,” and that the power
has been abused in the past. “Treasurer Paul Keating did it,” he said.
“One day he decided that John Stone, a regular columnist for the Financial Review,
couldn’t attend the lock-up, and in fact he denied access to all
columnists. Now Treasurer Costello, for reasons that are not apparent
to me, has decided the Crikey shouldn’t be allowed into the lock-up.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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