As journalists gear up for the 2012-13 Federal Budget to be handed down tomorrow, the Treasury will be trialling the delivery of this year's budget papers on tablet devices.
(Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)
Each year in May, journalists from across the country descend on Parliament House in Canberra to report on the Federal Budget. The treasurer delivers the budget speech at 7.30pm AEST, but from 1.30pm, journalists are given access to all of the budget papers for each department in a media lock-up. The papers outline the planned funding, spending and cuts for that respective department.
While in the past, journalists would normally end up with dozens of thick documents for each department, and the accompanying press releases from the minister piled up on their desks, in recent years, the Treasury has made these documents available in PDF format and provided them to journalists via CD or through a USB key.
This year will be no different; however, in an instruction form provided to journalists this year, the Treasury also noted that it intends to trial the delivery of the budget papers through tablets.
"The Treasury will also be trialling a wireless solution to allow the budget documents to be loaded to tablet devices (including iPads and Android devices) via a secure channel," the instructions state. "If you wish to use this method, you will need to ensure you have an app loaded that is capable of viewing PDF documents."
The Treasury has warned, however, that while this method has been tested before, journalists are still advised to bring a USB-enabled device.
The trial comes as the Department of Parliamentary Services eased up restrictions on tablet use on its Wi-Fi network in March last year, allowing MPs and staffers to use the devices on the parliament's network. The department also completed a Wi-Fi network upgrade around the middle of last year.
Despite the Treasury trialling the Wi-Fi with journalists in the Budget lock-up, there is still a ban on any sort of communication devices within the lock-up itself, to prevent the leaking of budget information before the Treasurer's speech. While journalists are not allowed to take in mobile phones or pagers into the lock-up, laptops and tablets are permitted, provided connectivity has been disabled. The Treasury has warned that the lock-up area will be "monitored for non-authorised transmissions".
ZDNet Australia will be in the lock-up tomorrow and will have all the news from the Budget from 7.30pm.