Richard Farmer was on the money (as ever) in his Crikey column yesterday: Wayne Swan’s budget, in line with the needle-fine, obsessive media management of modern government, was pre-announced, pre-processed pap.

We had all read leaks of the Medicare surcharge change, the rise in luxury car taxes, the climate change package. The weekend papers had detailed assurances about the collapse in federal revenue, warnings of a looming assault on taxation expenditures, details of changes to aged care funding and we all knew everything there is to know about Ken Henry’s tax review. The alcopops excise increase was last month’s nanny news. 

It’s time the Australian media — eagerly duped each May into committing several small Sarawak forests to its compendious budget coverage — turned the tables on Australian governments and treated budget day with the same sense of jaded ennui that is now rightly reserved for the routine run of PMO propaganda. 

As a news event, Budget night has none of the sense of suspenseful revelation of yore. That several hundred of the finest minds in Australian journalism would willingly submit to a half-day’s detention simply to read in detail what they have already been told is as great a mystery as a cliff-base beach littered with lemmings. Why do they do it?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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