By Crikey publisher Eric Beecher




This
early-morning Budget edition of Crikey is unauthorised. It was produced
by a group of professional journalists who care a great deal about
Australian public life and independent journalism, but were banned by
the federal Treasurer from attending yesterday’s Budget lock-up for the
media.

If we had attended that lock-up we would have published
this edition late last night. Instead, we had to stay up through the
night to gather information that was available to most other
professional journalists, under embargo, before the Budget was released.

Treasurer
Peter Costello banned Crikey from attending the Budget lock-up because,
his spokesman said yesterday, we’re a “non-mainstream” media outlet
whose stock in trade is “gossip and rumour”.

Australia, unlike
the United States, does not have constitutional protection for a free
press. In the US, Peter Costello would have been constitutionally
unable to deploy his political power to prevent a serious media
organisation from doing its job.

Peter Costello dislikes Crikey
and his arrogance prevented us from publishing this edition last night.
But, as even Rupert Murdoch now concedes, the internet is a beast that
cannot be tamed. Thankfully, the days of spiteful politicians banning
journalists from doing their job and of political leaders coddling up
to media barons are nearing an end.

As for Crikey being a
“non-mainstream” media outlet whose stock in trade is “gossip and
rumour”, we’re happy to be judged by our work and by our readers. We
don’t need a Costello imprimateur.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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