By Janine Perrett 

Spare a thought for the dozens of people who will be locked up today for no valid reason.

No not innocent prisoners, but the cream of Australian financial media and economic thinkers in the annual budget wank, sorry lock-up.

Somewhere last century someone came up with the bright idea to keep all media closeted away from the outside world from 1.30pm on the day of the budget until the Treasurer delivers his speech to the rest of the world at 7.30 pm.

It was designed to give the journos a chance to pour through the numbers and analyse them carefully so they could write well-informed stories in time for their deadline for the next morning's papers.

What is wrong with that sentence?

Of course papers and deadlines are so old hat it beggars belief that the lock-up is still in existence.

The lock-up was meant to avoid any leaks so that markets would not react to insider news.

What is wrong with that sentence?

Leaks are now so prevalent we have all drowned in them weeks if not days before it is delivered; and even this morning they keep coming, more tax cuts for small business. Indeed late last night more leaks were surfacing this time of a Google tax to add to the previous day's income tax relief tax to add to the previous day's....it just goes on.

In the case of the rehashed infrastructure story, the government minister was out touting the $5billion budget announcement the day before the budget; but then again it was an old allocation just re-announced.

The other ludicrously out of date assumption is that we need to be locked up incommunicado lest the markets get wind of something and someone makes a killing.

Please. Nowdays so much has leaked beforehand the markets do not give a fig what the Treasurer says or does. Budgets are largely irrelevant.

As for the papers having to meet deadlines, well at the rate the newspaper industry is shrinking and the fact everything is online anyway, it is yet another reason to abandon the archaic practice.

It was once not long ago. Labor Treasurer John Kerin (don't worry he was only there for a minute if you have forgotten) well he abandoned the lock-up and had everyone hear the speech at once just as they do in the United Kingdom.

The world did not come to an end but it was quietly reintroduced the next year.

The theory is that is so that the government spin doctors have the media captive to get their message out without external interference.

The Canberra hospitality industry would scream if it was abandoned given the killing they make with all hotels and restaurants full for the night as not just media but business leaders and lobbyists pour in for fund-raisers and other wild social events that see the capital jumping to all hours.

Despite the myriad reasons for abolishing the lock-up, the main one actually economic  - the cost to struggling media companies cannot be justified and they should work together to boycott the practice.

But where's the fun of the school outing then?