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A good day for a bad Budget

Georgia Kriz gives a blow-by-blow account of Honi Soit’s road trip to the Budget lock-up in Canberra.

budget diary
Image taken and altered by Lane Sainty.
Image taken and altered by Lane Sainty.

6.30am: I wake up and take my pug for a short walk. She is quite grumpy that it is so short, but I tell her it is Budget Day today and I am road-tripping to my hometown of Canberra with my colleagues Justin and Lane to attend the media lock-up, so she can’t be grumpy. She stays grumpy because she is a pug and she can’t understand English.

7.10am: My colleagues Justin and Lane pick me up. They are in Lane’s car; his name is ‘The Blue Bomb’ or, affectionately, ‘Bombo’. He is a bit shit and we all agree that we will be lucky to get to Canberra at all. ABC 702 is playing very loudly; Justin tells me this is because we have to get “in the zone”.

7.20am: We all agree that “the zone” can also be gotten into by playing Kanye West very loudly. We turn off ABC 702 and play Kanye West very loudly. Lane says that she likes ‘All of the Lights’ the best because of the bit where he lists all of the lights.

8.00am: Lane asks if we can play some “golden oldies” instead. Justin and I say “no Lane”, and then Justin turns up ‘Homecoming’.

8.10am: I realise my driver’s licence is out of date, which means I don’t have valid ID and that I can’t take a turn driving Bombo. We all agree that this is a problem, and resolve that the only way to fix it is to go renew my licence on the way to the lock-up.

8.30am: We realise we don’t have proof of our employment to give to Parliament House security. This is, we all agree, a problem. We email the SRC and ask for proof of employment and promise to buy them chocolate in return for a speedy response.

8.32am: They respond, and attach proof of employment. We all agree that this is a pleasant surprise. [Eds note: we still haven’t bought them chocolate, fuck.]

8.40am: We realise that we haven’t printed off any of the research we prepared to take into the lock-up. There are around 40 pages of it. We all agree that this is a problem and that we aren’t particularly organised people. I call my mum and ask her to print them off and meet us at the RTA. “Sure!” she says, because she is nice and I think she likes feeling important and needed.

9.20am: We all eat some Red Rock Deli Honey Soy flavoured chips.

10.25am: I request that we put on ‘Power’ while we are driving into Canberra. I can rap the whole song and so I do. Justin is impressed and Lane is not.

10.45am: We arrive at the RTA. My mother is waiting out the front. She has also brought along my grandfather. I haven’t seen him in three and a half years because he lives in Thailand with his fourth wife. I say “Hello Grandad” and “Hello Mum” and I introduce them to Lane and Justin.

10.50am: I get my licence renewed while Lane and Justin get coffee, Grandad sits outside reading the sports section of The Canberra Times and Mum comes inside with me.

10.55am: We say goodbye to Grandad and Mum. Mum gives us three mandarins to take into lock-up. Grandad takes a picture of Mum and me. Lane and Justin are in the frame, but they move out of it.

11.30am: We get sushi from mine and Lane’s favourite sushi shop, Mee’s. Justin says that it is “fuel” for what is ahead.

11.40am: We go into Manuka McDonald’s and use their Wifi to prep further. Some St Edmund’s boys are sitting in the booth behind us and talking about “slaying pussy”. We research the current state of health, welfare and higher education funding in Australia.

12.30pm: We leave Manuka and drive towards Parliament House.

12.40pm: We park on Melbourne Avenue, next to where Lane and I went to school. We reminisce about how much we hated it. Justin makes mildly-to-moderately interested noises.

12.48pm: We try to get into the media lock-up via the ministerial entrance. The security guard tells us that as we are not ministers, we cannot get in through the ministerial entrance. We all agree that this is fair, and walk around to the public entrance.

1.00pm: We encounter another security guard at the public entrance front desk. Wyatt Roy is also here. The security guard seems to think that only Treasury officials are allowed into the lock-up. We, along with ten other waiting journalists, assure him that this is not the case. Wyatt Roy doesn’t say anything, he is just short.

1.02pm: We leave the front desk security guard and go upstairs to where the lock-up is beginning.

1.05pm: We surrender our phones and sign an agreement stating that we will not break the embargo on the budget information during the lock-up. We all agree that although our Honi colleague Andrew told us “it would be funny to just yolo it and leak”, we shouldn’t do that because it would be illegal and unethical. We file into a holding area where there are around 40 journalists already waiting.

1.10pm: The Guardian team walk into the holding area. They have brought sandwich platters and cake. We all agree that the sandwiches look nice and that Lenore Taylor is wearing a nice jacket. It is beige.

1.28pm: A Treasury official comes and yells at us all about not breaking the embargo.

1.30pm: Lock-up begins. We are given little budget tote bags that contain the budget, handy colour-page, dot-point breakdowns of the budget, and the budget speech.

1.32pm: We find our desks in a room that contains journalists from Woroni, the Australian Manufacturer Worker’s Union, community radio and The Guardian. We all agree that it is odd for The Guardian to be sharing a room with Woroni.

1.37pm: We start reading the budget. The AMWU man sitting next to me shouts: “Fuck!” I agree.

2.00pm. After a short tactical discussion, we start writing. I am writing the funny explainer piece because I find it hard to be serious and I am not good at paying attention to detail. Lane and Justin are writing the proper news piece because they are good journalists.

2.23pm: The AMWU man yells: “What the fuck!”

4.40pm: The Guardian offer us some sandwiches and Diet Coke, saying they have brought too much food. We say “thanks so much” but we are too nervous to take them up on their offer so we just keep writing.

5.10pm: Another journalist asks us if he can have our stories in exchange for some “number fiddling” that he has done. We say “no”.

5.22pm: Annabel Crabb is in the corridor chatting to Michael Rowland. I stare at her for a bit. She sees me. I stop staring.

5.27pm: Lane goes to the bathroom.

5.34pm: Lane comes back from the bathroom and says that Annabel looked at her and smiled. We all agree that this means they are married now.

6.10pm: I go to the bathroom. I see Joe Hockey in the television media room chatting with Kochie. I think: “dickheads”. I see Piers Akerman on the stairs. I don’t push him down them.

6.27pm: We start proofing each other’s work. Lane and Justin have written very good news copy. I have called the Treasurer a dickhead multiple times.

7.20pm: That other journalist asks again if he can have our stories. We say “no”, again.

7.25pm: We start queuing up to leave lock-up.

7.30pm: Everyone runs out of lock-up in the direction of the House of Representatives. We sit down on a bench, turn on our Wifi hotspots, and publish our pieces. We all agree that we feel like kings.

7.32pm: We refresh Facebook and Twitter lots and list all the famous people we saw.

8.12pm: We agree that we are really hungry and that we should stop narcissistically refreshing social media. We leave Parliament House.

8.30pm: We drive to Brodburger, my favourite burger place. Justin and Lane order onion rings with their burgers. I don’t, because I am gluten intolerant.

9.12pm: We leave Canberra. Justin puts on some soft acoustic covers.

12.38am: We arrive at my house. We are exhausted. I say “goodbye” and get my things out of Bombo’s boot.

12.45am: I give my pug a kiss. She is grumpy that I have woken her up. I whisper to her: “Today I saw Annabel Crabb and the Liberals destroyed this country’s future.” She does not react.