What Wayne Swan delivered last night was virtually a "no new news" budget. Almost everything of general interest in the mass of budget documents had been carefully planted in the media over the previous couple of weeks. The only real surprise was the announcement of a gradual increase in the age at which people will qualify for the age pension.
That was seized upon by a couple of the tabloids desperate not to waste the hard work of their staff artists who had prepared some wonderful work to go with a horror budget headline. In the absence of an increase in excise on beer and cigarettes that was predicted in some of the early budget previews, the words in the Treasurer's speech could not live up to the images. There's nothing really horrible about a decision that will take until 2023 before all retirees must wait until they are 67 to get the pension.
If newspapers really are in to cost cutting they will surely stay away from next year's budget lock and have their staff trying to find real news as Melbourne's Herald Sun and The Age did this morning.