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Other news story puts Federal budget in shade

Mark Knight, May 13, 2021 6:30PM Kids News

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Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg holds a copy of the 2021-2022 federal budget on May 12, 2021 in Canberra, ACT. Picture: Sam Mooy/Getty Images media_cameraFederal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg holds a copy of the 2021-2022 federal budget on May 12, 2021 in Canberra, ACT. Picture: Sam Mooy/Getty Images


Reading level: red

It is Federal budget week in Canberra.

The Budget is the biggest day on the calendar in the nation’s capital. It is the day when the Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hands down Australia’s financial blueprint* for the next 12 months. The Budget decides where all our taxes are spent and how much money we have in the bank, or as we have seen this year due to the coronavirus, how much in debt we are!

This year the Budget deficit is around $161 billion. That’s the difference between what we make and what we spend. So to run the government and all the services it provides we are 161 billion bananas short.

To make up for the shortfall* we have to borrow that, or print more money! Don’t laugh, they actually do that too! It’s called quantitative easing. Google it.

As you can see, the Australian budget deals with eye-wateringly large sums of money. Although when you think about it, Australia is a large continent with a population of over 25 million people and they require a lot of services.

This week there was, however, another financial deal that put the Australian Federal budget in the shade. No, it wasn’t another country’s budget. What was it, I hear you say? It was a divorce settlement.

Not just any divorce settlement. Bill and Melinda Gates were going their separate ways and had to divvy* up the spoils. As you know, Bill Gates is the geeky guy who as a young man invented the Microsoft computer operating system. He did all right out of that with just about everybody in the world buying a copy of it to run their PCs. He is worth squillions*. $167 billion to be exact.

He and his wife also have the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which has another $50 billion in assets squirrelled* away.

So when Bill and Melinda sat down to work out who gets what in the divorce settlement, they weren’t just arguing about who gets the cat.

French President Receives Bill Gates, the co-Founder of the Microsoft Company At Elysee Palace media_cameraBill and Melinda Gates in front of the Elysee Palace after receiving the award of Commander of the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Hollande on April 21, 2017 in Paris, France. Picture: Frederic Stevens/Getty Images

When I read about this I immediately drew a comparison in mind between two people’s assets and that of a whole nation. The cartoon just appeared in my mind and I knew I had to draw it. It is a fairly simple cartoon image. I drew Bill and Melinda sitting at the bargaining table, which has a mountain of money on it. To be fair there wasn’t enough room on the page of the newspaper to accurately draw the size of their wealth, but the pile of cash gives you a rough idea.

I wanted the cartoon to be a compare-and-contrast situation, so next to them seated at a little card table with Australia’s humble pile of money is Josh Frydenberg, our Federal Treasurer. To emphasise the size of the Gates’ pile I have added a shadow, which is cast over an incredulous* looking Mr Frydenberg.

media_cameraMark Knight’s cartoon. Right click to open in new tab and view full size.

The cartoon uses the simple but effective device of comparing and contrasting two issues side by side. The cartoon highlights the massive wealth some individuals have amassed* during our technological revolution over the past 20 years. Bill and Melinda Gates have put their incredible wealth to good use and donated billions of dollars to charities and aid agencies around the world.

Maybe Mr Gates would be good for a donation to the Australian budget?


  • blueprint: plan for the future
  • shortfall: what’s missing or by how much there’s not enough
  • divvy: divide
  • squillions: slang for lots and lots
  • squirrelled: stored
  • incredulous: unwilling or unable to believe something
  • amassed: collected


Coughing over the health of Australia’s piggy bank

Finding a positive message in uncertain times


  1. Name the cartoonist.
  2. Who are the people in the cartoon?
  3. Why are they well known?
  4. Why have they been in the news recently?
  5. Who is the Federal Treasurer?


1. Cartoonist’s skills
‘To be a great cartoonist, being able to draw is only one of the skills that you need.’ Write a list of all of the other skills that you think cartoonists like Mark need to do their job. Next to each skill, write a sentence that explains why that skill is important or helps them to do a great job.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability, Media Arts, Visual Communication Design

2. Extension
Look through the most recent stories on Kids News and choose one to draw a cartoon about.

Use Mark’s three-step process to get started:

What is my subject?

What do I want to say about this issue?

How do I say it? Do I use visual metaphors (an image that the viewer is meant to understand as a symbol for something else), multiple panels or symbolism (when one idea, feeling or emotion is represented by something else such as a: picture, character, colour or object)?

Time: allow at least 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

Describe It
Look at the cartoon and make a list of 5 nouns that you see. Then describe those 5 nouns with 5 adjectives.

Be specific and add where those nouns using prepositions and another noun.

Now choose your favourite bundle and put all the words together to make one descriptive sentence.

Extra Reading in civics