Six hours is a long long time to be locked away with a set of dry economic figures and a swathe of bland press releases, so for many of Australia’s finest political journalists it’s out of the lock-up and straight to the bar — but not before filing copy for tomorrow’s edition.

Here’s the initial round-up of the first impressions of Budget 2011:

The Australian

Dennis Shanahan: “Swan aims for budget surplus by a thousand cuts

“After weeks of political softening up for a so-called “tough-love” budget the Treasurer has made few swingeing cuts in his plan for $22 billion in savings through to 2013-14.”

Peter van Onselen: “Back in the black, but not just yet

“Not enough cuts to satisfy those of us who would like to see spending quickly returned to pre-GFC levels, and too much in spending cuts and tax increases to make average Australians under cost of living pressure happy.”

SMH

Peter Harcher: “The great no-tax-cut budget of 2011

“Swan and Gillard promised a “tough budget.” It’s not that. There are no big, hard, politically painful savings measures, only some cautious tinkering.”

Lenore Taylor: “Labor banks on no-frills budget to regain control

“The question mark over this budget is whether its story is interesting enough for Labor’s narrative to prevail.”

Adele Ferguson: Not enough to tackle skills shortages

“Australia’s mining boom is suffering from skilled labour shortages, which is fuelling wage and price inflation. With large parts of the economy not sharing the boom, Swan needs to find a mechanism to help rein in wage inflation.”

The Age

Tim Lester: “Budget delivers $20b in cuts

“Higher income earners have been hit as the government insists on keeping alive its planned return to surplus in the financial year after next.”

Ross Gittens: “Enough nasties to make it a tough budget

“That such an unpopular government would risk annoying so many groups tells us something about Julia Gillard’s courage and willingness to do what needs to be done.”

Katharine Murphy: “Swan delivers ‘honest’ budget, but will it be enough?

“The carefully calibrated Howard formula of tax cuts and hand-outs to buy community consensus for unpopular policy reform is also not evident in this document.”

Herald Sun

Matthew Schulz: “Wayne Swan delivers austere budget to reduce deficit

“There are few surprises and sweeteners in this Budget, with the Gillard Government telegraphing their plans in recent days to kickstart jobs, tighten welfare and tackle the country’s asylum seeker crisis.”

The West Australian

Andrew Probyn: “Tough Budget could’ve been tougher

“The fact is however that the Treasurer could have gone further, widening the grief to other cohorts. He didn’t for a couple of reasons.”

Peter Fray

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