Red Budget cover
THIS year's Budget is covered in red ink. Coral Red, to be strictly accurate - anemone-coloured.
The assembled media gasped as the Financial Secretary (above) held a copy near each side of his head at the traditional pre-Budget photo opportunity yesterday.
Mr Macleod quickly proffered reassurance. ''These are not my ears,'' he quipped. But that was not what was troubling the group in his office. All had been told to check out the colour of the cover by editors seeking a clue to the contents after last year's greenish exterior turned out to include a generous $2.6 billion for the environment.
(Later, nobody could be quite sure when the decision was taken to ignore those who insisted the turquoise colour was really closer to blue than green. It was obvious that the economy was not depressed enough to warrant blue.) But could this red be significant? Did it denote a deficit budget, a brave soul asked the beaming Mr Macleod. The Financial Secretary, being a civil servant rather than a politician, has not mastered the art of wearing an expression totally at odds with what he is saying. His face went blank.
That settled, the search was on for other clues. What about the in-tray? Aren't financial secretaries supposed to have cleared the decks by Budget day, just to tell last-minute lobbyists they are too late? ''They are too late,'' he said.
So why were there still documents in the in-tray? Oh, he said as breezily as if he dashed dreams every day, those documents were just what was left behind after he moved the rest next door. Another budget myth bites the dust.
_ JONATHAN BRAUDE