Andrew Refshauge had to flip past the front page of today’s Daily Telegraph to get the bad news he must have known was coming: “Beg, Borrow, Steal” screamed the Daily Terror. “Voters slugged, surplus raided.”

least the bucket job on his budget was covered by a special state of
origin rugby league wrap-around. Inside, the paper focused on the
insurance tax increase, or as the Tele put it, the “insurance cash grab to hit home hard.”

radio shock jocks didn’t pull their punches. Down on struggle street,
Refshauge was getting a hammering from the people’s pal, Alan Jones:
“Treasurer, do you concede we are no longer the economic powerhouse of
Australia, business is being taxed to oblivion and we have low economic
growth and high taxes?”

Recovering from the opening salvo,
Refshauge was then subjected to a rant on Jones’s favourite topic; the
farmers and how they’ll all be rooned: “There’s no single new
initiative for the drought from all that money you’ve raised from
taxpayers,” complained Jones.

Over at 2UE, John Laws was taking
a more balanced approach – having a go at both the Federal and State
governments. But he was concentrating this morning on the death of his
former business partner, Graham Kennedy. Both Jones and Laws paid
tribute to Kennedy, news of which has dominated Sydney electronic media.

Refshauge would have been pleased with the SMH’s
Budget coverage. It splashed with the decision to reduce the hated
property tax: “Windfall for 400,000 voters.” But Ross Gittins wasn’t so
accepting: “This is a budget that’s lost its way and lost its nerve,”
he wrote in a scathing front page comment: “They’ve lost the plot, along with their nerve.”

Elsewhere, The Australian’s
Alan Wood was wondering whether Refshauge would go the way of the last
Socialist Left state Treasurer – Joan Kirner’s man Tony Sheehan, who
ended his political career immortalised in Jeff Kennett’s “guilty
party” TV ads.

Refshauge will not appreciate the analogy, but
given his extraordinary announcement of a Budget that will spend “a
million dollars every hour of every day,” it’s a fair question to ask.