Libs not even showing up online!

This election has seen wider efforts at using the internet to provide a broader range of information to the electorate beyond the narrow confines of what is served up by the mainstream media. Two in particular are You Decide 2007, which is endeavouring to provide ‘citizen-journalist’ style coverage at the electorate level, and How Should I Vote, which tries to provide assistance to people on how they should vote by matching their answers to a series of questions with responses provided by candidates.

I’ve noted before during this election how rare it has been for Liberal Party candidates to turn up at the many different types of public forums that have been held about the place. A piece in Crikey suggests that this apparent strategy of non-engagement also extends to the internet as well. Marcus Westbury from How Should I Vote reports that “despite repeated requests, only one Liberal and one National candidate” from the 150 electorates have supplied their answers or policy positions on the questions that are put to voters to help them determine which candidate best matches their views.

Similarly, Jason Wilson from You Decide says that “it’s been almost impossible to get Liberals on the phone, to keep their appointments with the site team or to talk to citizen journalists. The early interviews have dried up – since early October the site has been stonewalled by local candidates and the party machine.”

How Should I Vote has been developed by the GetUp! group, who could reasonably be described as not supportive of the government. But the survey process on How Should I Vote seems fairly impartial to me, and the fact that the site has been developed by GetUp! hardly means that every single person who uses the site is going to be beyond persuasion about voting for the Coalition. Responding to a questionnaire with your party’s policy is hardly a massively time-consuming task, nor does it risk a “gaffe” or some other controversy that’s “off-message”, so I really don’t understand what the Coalition thinks it has to lose by refusing to engage on this most basic of levels. And surely there’s always the chance of some gain – even if its only small, in an election where you’re struggling to retain support, one would think you’d take every available avenue.

These two websites are interesting experiments. I might write some more detailed views on them after the election, but they’re certainly worth while trials. I am fairly wary of the term ‘citizen journalist’, but the general notion of encouraging wider input at a local level from ‘outsiders’ is definitely worth trying.

My main gripe with the How Should I Vote site is that, just like the mainstream media, it IGNORES THE SENATE! I know I have a personal stake in this, but I just don’t get why this happens so continually. It might have required a bit more thought for the questionnaire, but surely it could have been done for the 24 parties/groups that are contesting the Senate in Queensland.

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  1. Hi Andrew,

    All the best for the Election this weekend.

    I did smile as I saw my local Member struggle with his mobile in two shopping centres a few weeks ago. This morning I noticed another party has infiltrated my Facebook account with a web part with no cross to delete it.

    Have you looked into Twitter?

    cheers Martin

  2. Senator Bartlett – In addition to the Crikey piece I contributed something to New Matilda’s Polliegraph yesterday concerning the Liberals’ apparent reluctance to front the voters in ANY forum. I wondered if it was Qld.- specific, but on- and offline feedback suggests that it may be a national phenomenon. Like you, I’m not sure what the Libs think they have to gain by employing this strategy.

    Jason Wilson

  3. PS – I’d very much welcome your feedback on youdecide2007 post-election, and as I say to all candidates (or at least those who agree to talk to me!) best of luck on Saturday.

  4. There’s a Senate election? You mean we have to vote twice?!

    The minor parties should really push hard in the next parliament for an AEC run education campaign about how important the Senate is. Of course, it would help if we had a decent Senate voting system which gave you more choice than “Number 1 or All 65”.

  5. I’m with Jason. What do the Liberals expect to achieve by not saying anything? It seems to me that their backs are against the wall and they’re doing nothing but hide behind John Howard.

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