News Club / 13 May 2024

Making and reporting on the Federal Budget

Hey Squizer,

How to unpick the Federal Budget for you is one of the first things I remember pondering not long after The Squiz was launched back in March 2017.

I had all sorts of ideas about how to do it – picking out the important statements and numbers in a way that brought it to life. And in the way The Squiz does, finding the fun bits too with the quirky measures – like the $12 million the government spent on puppies in 2022… 

But my trusted advisers were nothing more than dream-squashers. They said people aren’t that interested in the Budget, and the service we could provide – by doing the Squiz Today like we always do it – would be hugely valuable. Just produce 3 simple paragraphs on the main theme, expand on the key points, and sum up what it means, they said. 

They were right. And what we did in 2017 became the template for how we’ve continued to do it in Squiz Today. It’s a neat summary of the main bits and the curation of the best news links for your further investigation. 

But now News Club has been added to our roster, and this is a great place for those interested in knowing more about how the Budget sausage is made ahead of its release on 14 May…

So in this week’s episode I talk to James Chessell, a Walkley Award-winning journalist and former Managing Director of Publishing at Nine Entertainment (think The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review). He was also a staffer earlier in his career, so he’s seen Budgets play out from both sides of the fence. You can listen to our chat here.

As to our Club Picks this week: 

  1. 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. 
  2.  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… 
  3. 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… 

I hope this sparks some interest in next Tuesday’s Budget announcement – it’s a significant one. And yes, they always say that… See you on the sofa next Tuesday at 7.30pm. 

Your friend in news
Claire Kimball

News Club

The place for conversations about the news.

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