On Tuesday, the ACT government held Australia’s first virtual community cabinet using Twitter. Four ministers faced a stream of tweets in an hour long question and answer session held with the voting public. Some could say the community Twitter event followed the concept of US President Barack Obama’s Twitter Town Hall. But this is the first one for Australia.
University of Canberra journalism lecturer and social media expert, Julie Posetti, listened and read the tweets from the event, said “I don’t necessarily think Twitter is the be all and end all, but I do think generally that social media engagement between politicians and electorates and the media as well – that’s a trend that’s here to stay.”
The trend appears to be a natural affinity with audience engagement and Twitter. “It’s appealing for its brevity and clarity. And during the Q&A quite a few people asked serious questions of the cabinet ministers about local issues that were important to them,” stated Posetti.
The Twitter users put their concerns to the Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Ministers Andrew Barr, Simon Corbell and Joy Burch. Even a few expressed some positive views about their government. According to The Conversation, it was quite clear the four ministers were having difficulty resorting to spin from over 200 tweeters. The shortness and speed in which they had to answer was more direct and less elaborate than typical political answers.
I like the fact that politicians have to offer short and concise answers within 140 characters. I think voters will find this more meaningful compared to the typical sound bites we here from the television news.