Student newspapers, including Woroni, were not accredited to attend this year’s Budget lock up at Parliament House, despite having attended in previous years.
Woroni, the University of Melbourne’s Farrago and the University of Sydney’s Honi Soit were not granted access to the lock up this year, with the Treasury saying that there was not enough space available and professional media organisations would have to be prioritised.
SYN Media, a youth community radio station based in Melbourne, was also denied access. SYN has previously won a community radio award for Budget coverage.
Woroni news editor Jasper Lindell said that it was especially suspicious given the policy announcements in the lead up to the Budget that would affect young people and students.
‘It seemed pretty clear what was going on, they were trying to exclude student journalists from the conversation because it was likely that we would be critical of the higher education policy that the government had just announced,’ he said.
‘And the line that they fed us, saying that there was no space in the lock-up is utter rubbish. None of us believe that there are suddenly more journalists this year than the last few years. It was an active decision to keep us out, not circumstantial.’
An open letter published in Honi Soit and signed by student publications from campuses across the country condemned the ‘suspect’ and cynical behaviour of locking out student media.
‘It is an unsettling coincidence that university publications are being excluded in precisely the year that controversial university funding reforms are being announced,’ the editorial said.
‘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.’
The open letter was signed by the editors of Woroni, Farrago, Honi Soit, Opus, W’SUP, Togatus and the ANU Observer.