We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

Our budget malaise: the hardest questions go unanswered

3 4 23
28.03.2019

People often ask me: “Jess, why do you love budgets so much?”

To which I reply: “What’s not to love?”

Who doesn’t want to stand for an hour in a snaking queue of journalists, as we await our turn to voluntarily submit to a six-hour lock-up in a labyrinth of committee hearing rooms deep in the heart of Parliament House in Canberra?

Illustration: Matt DavidsonCredit:

Who doesn’t, upon entering, want to immediately test both their physical and mental strength by collecting a hefty swathe of budget documents laden with potential traps for young players such as confusing the “fiscal balance” with the “underlying cash balance”? (Hint: always refer to the latter.)

Who doesn’t want to be held captive as the Treasurer of the day waltzes breezily by to explain why the figures he – yep, it’s always a "he" – has just unveiled aren’t built entirely on sand and likely to be blown away by the breeze of the next butterfly flapping its wings in China?

Who doesn’t want to be charged exorbitant prices for a barista-made coffee, because Treasury removed all the free hot water urns?

Not me: that’s who. But, as I prepare to report on my 15th federal budget next Tuesday, I must confess: a certain cynicism has snuck in. Perhaps the greater surprise is that it’s taken 15 years for the gloss to wear off.

Josh Frydenberg ...........

© The Age