Journalism is all about exclusives and being first, as well as accuracy (space permitting). Consequently, we present this live-blog of Joe Hockey's Budget Night, several days before it happens.
7:30pm – Joe enters to the tune of "Money For Nothing" from the Dire Straits album Brothers In Arms. He's looking pretty happy until Malcolm Turnbull bumps up the CD player and skips forward to "Your Latest Trick". " And most of the taxis and the whores are only taking calls for cash ," sings Mark Knopfler. Joe shakes it off as he takes the call.
7:37pm – The Government will attack the deficit by lowering taxes, says Joe. "The economy is like a lithium battery. It's better to drain it the whole way before you recharge it."
7:42pm – There will be no cuts to disability entitlements, but a new metric will be introduced to determine whether or not individuals can qualify. Anyone with full use of a limb cannot apply for entitlements. Joe redefines "limb" in a new, broader sense that now includes normal functions of the heart, brain, or lungs.
7:50pm – Many seniors will find access to the part-pension limited. Part-pensions will now be kept atop a ten metre pole in the middle of a lion enclosure.
8:02pm – Joe countering criticisms that this government is frugal and unwilling to spend. Outlines $4 million given to the University of Western Australia for the "consensus centre" by climate change denialist Bjorn Lomborg; $11 million on the ads for the intergenerational report; $35.5 million on further ANZAC commemorations. That's a total of $50.5 million in spending.
8:03pm – $50.5 million to be cut from health.
8:06pm – After outlining the healthcare cuts, Joe repeats Tony Abbott's line that this government is the best friend Medicare has ever had. Points out that Caesar once called Brutus the best friend he'd ever had, and Brutus was able to maintain that relationship whilst still making lots of cuts.
8:12pm – Tony promised to be more consultative with his cabinet colleagues before any major policy changes were announced. If you look carefully, you can see him running around the backbenches, very quickly talking to MPs about new policies moments before Joe announces them. Joe is currently stalling for time before announcing the new nationwide school/church merger while Tony dashes about in the background. Joe filibusters himself by describing his favourite moments from Fast and Furious 7.
8:20pm – Joe clarifies that whole thing with the "Google tax". Says he was never intending to impose taxes on the multinational tech company, and it was simply a case of Mathias Cormann misunderstanding Joe's instruction. Mathias has apologised, and Joe will no longer delegate the Googling of things he's not quite sure about.
8:27pm – Joe talking about the Netflix tax which will add ten percent to the cost of downloads and streaming services. He says that even though iTunes already charges Australians more per download than other parts of the world for inexplicable, he expects this tax will help combat piracy by inspiring a sense of patriotism in illegal downloaders.
8:29pm – Joe mentions his abolition of the mining tax and the carbon tax, and how that inspired a sense of patriotism in mining companies who threatened to move offshore.
8:38pm – Although the Victorian Labor Party won on a platform of cancelling the East-West Link, Joe says the Federal Government is still committed to funding half of the project. He says that the Abbott Government will begin construction on the "East- Link" project, a one-way highway that will deliver four lanes of traffic into the Melbourne CBD every single day. If Premier Andrews wants everyone to be able to get home at 5pm, then he'd better get cracking on the West part, Joe says.
8:42pm – Joe has found lots of savings to be found in what some historians are calling "Aboriginal communities".
8:47pm – Joe takes the unusual measure of directly addressing the comment made by Chris Richardson of Deloitte Access Economics, who predicted the budget would "look like it's been written by Stephen King and painted by Edvard Munch". Joe points out that Stephen King's The Shawshank Redemption is still #1 on the Internet Movie Database's Top 250 films, and that Munch's The Scream is worth over US$120 million, so he's perfectly comfortable with the comparison. Does not comment on the government seizing all of the Rita Hayworth posters that Julian Burnside has been sending to Christmas Island.
8:51pm – Joe admits that the government learned from its mistake last year when it introduced a quarter of a billion dollars' worth of funding for the school chaplaincy program. He knows that the money should be spent on things people actually need, and announces the quarter of a billion dollars for a new childcare subsidy. Any nannies employed under this scheme will not be required to have any training outside of the compulsory theological seminary schooling.
8:55pm – The Government will withdraw its hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for domestic violence, and will instead spend the money on anti-domestic violence measures, as outlined in the Government's new "Semantics and the Importance of Proof-Reading Bill" which will be introduced next Parliament.
8:57pm – Joe takes credit for last week's interest rate cut to an all-time low of 2 percent, saying "this rate cut is good news for families and good news for small businesses". Joe says he knows that in 2013 he said that "interest rates are being cut to fifty-year lows because the economy is struggling", but says that's perfectly consistent. "You don't watch bad TV shows like Married At First Sight because it's really bad, but you do watch absolutely awful shows like Gogglebox, because it's so bad they're good. I see the economy in the same way."
9:00pm – Speaker Bronwyn Bishop has just microwaved a Horlicks, which means it's time to wrap things up. Joe winds down with an update of war funding. The cost of sending troops and aircraft to the Middle East was initially estimated to be $500 million per year, but recent estimates have it at a mere $306 million. Joe says with the extra savings, the Government is looking to invest in some new wars, maybe in Southeast Asia or the Baltic States.
9:04pm – By our count, Joe has used the phrase "working families" seventy-three times so far.
9:05pm – "will suffer a lot" has also been used seventy-three times.
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