If budget night is “schoolies for journos” then the early hours of this morning was the disappointing Lismore version: light on the booze (and actual light booze in some instances) to slam the door fast on a disappointing Gillard government incapable of communicating its triumphs to a jaded press pack.

After hijacking an old bottle of white out of Bernard Keane’s bar fridge, Crikey high-tailed it down to Manuka’s excellent Kopi Tiam where we found ABC hack Michael Brissenden and Australian Financial Review page 2 girl Jennifer Hewett holding court on an adjoining table and Greens Senator Rachel Siewert hoeing into what looked like some quality mee goreng opposite failed Senate candidate Lin Hatfield Dodds and a typically bearded adviser. So far, so mundane.

Dessert was a write-off and we decided to jump ship and walk the 150 metres round the corner to “Public”, a swish gastro-pub of middling quality that has apparently become THE PLACE for the soft left and general anti-News Limited forces to gather and spit venom at Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. But first, the scene at Belluci’s on the corner was a cracker — Labor MP Nick Champion, dumped minister Chris Bowen and The Australian‘s Peter Van Onselen holding court among the fading Rudd Forces.

At Public proper, ebullient AFR gossiper Joe Aston bowled up, quickly followed by PVO who was gracefully kicking on. Victorian Labor Left luminaries Laura Smyth and Alan Griffin were huddled at a corner pew, and this author managed to annoy all and sundry by attempting to force unwilling randoms (and Lateline four-eyes Tom Iggulden) to wear Stephen Mayne’s 2004-era Crikey baseball cap.

By now the Kosciuszkos were sliding down at a rapid rate of knots. But First Dog had had enough; it was time to embrace the Other, and trudge back over to the feared Kennedy Room, a kind of low-rent sports bar without any plasmas. By 2am it was rammed: Age ed Andrew Holden looked happy, Australia’s most powerful media executive Paul Whittaker and prolific Twit Joe Hildebrand were pressing the flesh and Malcolm Turnbull attack dog Stephen Ellis was furiously backgrounding anyone who stumbled up to him.

But the seas parted for NSW Labor general secretary Sam Dastyari, still on the job at the 3am, and assuring Crikey of Labor glory come September 14. Oh, and PVO was there too.