Treasury has rejected the applications of every student media organisation which applied for accreditation to attend the Federal Budget Lock-up next week. This comes after today’s announcement of multi-million dollar cuts to Australian universities.
In our increasingly digital world, the Federal Budget Lock-up, originally devised to prevent market-sensitive information from being leaked, may seem like an anachronism. But it continues to provide an unparalleled level of media access to the people behind the clearest indicator of the Federal Government’s economic priorities.
By locking student media out of this crucial political event, the Federal Government has denied us the opportunity to closely analyse a Budget which will have a massive impact on young people.
Student media have a long and proud history of refusing to swallow the pre-prepared and accepted political narrative.
Now, rather than having the chance to pick over the Budget first hand and question Treasury officials ourselves on proposals that will directly affect young people, we will be forced to sit on the outside and rely on the coverage of others to tell this story.
Student publications have previously been accredited to attend the federal budget lock up (Woroni attended in 2016; Honi Soit in 2014, 2015, and 2016; Farrago in 2015 and 2016).
This year, Honi Soit, Farrago and Woroni applied for accreditation and received notice of their rejection on Monday, 1 May.
Is our rejection this year an issue of legitimacy? A concern that, all of a sudden in 2017, we are not capable of accurate, fair and high-calibre reporting?
Or could it be this is a concerted move to avoid scrutiny and criticism from some of the country’s youngest journalists, who will continue to reject the accepted narrative and seek to uncover and explain how young people are being targeted by the federal government’s higher education policies?
It is an unsettling coincidence that university publications are being excluded in precisely the year that controversial university funding reforms are being announced.
Following today’s reports about proposed changes to higher education funding, Bernard Keane wrote for Crikey: “What is clear is that next week’s budget looms as a continuation of this government’s war on young people… This is an economic war on our youth, and one they should never forgive us for.”
Given these circumstances, our collective rejection from the event is especially suspect.
This move smacks of a government unwilling to face the scrutiny of young people, a government which does not wish to engage with those who will be directly affected by their policies, and a government which believes it can avoid criticism simply by turning journalists away at the door.
We wholeheartedly condemn the collective rejection of student media organisations from the 2017 Budget Lock-up.
Editors of Honi Soit
Editors of Farrago
Editors of Woroni
Editors of W’SUP
Editors of Opus
Editors of ANU Observer
Editors of Togatus