News Club / 07 May 2024

Interview: Making and reporting on the Federal Budget

With Treasurer Jim Chalmers set to hand down the Federal Budget next week, we thought it would be a good time to dive into the process of how it gets made and how the media reports on it. James Chessell, a Walkley Award-winning journalist and former Managing Director of Nine, is well-versed in covering budgets. Plus, his former time working as a staffer for Joe Hockey makes him uniquely qualified on the topic.

Club Picks:

This episode of Politics with Michelle Grattan with economist Chris Richardson. She’s the doyen of political coverage out of Canberra’s Press Gallery, and he’s the go-to guru for anyone looking to make sense of the Budget. Ahead of its release, they set the scene for what’s on the government’s economic plate.

In my chat with James Chessell, he talked about the practice of governments leaking stories to get the best advantage. This is prevalent in the lead-up to a Budget where there are so many stories (and so much money attached…) to tell. This piece from 2017 by Dr Denis Muller, a journalism expert from Melbourne Uni, goes into the art of the leak…

Speaking of leaks, the mother of them all came about in 1980 when then-Ten News political reporter Laurie Oakes got access to the Budget in a dark Canberra car park 2 days ahead of its release… This clip of how it unfolded on air is fun, if only for then Treasurer John Howard’s reaction…

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