Monday, September 17, 2007

The Great Google Election '07

Is YouTube ‘more important to Mr Rudd than the national parliament of Australia’?

Liberal Party Minister Alexander Downer yesterday tagged Kevin Rudd’s plans to debate election issues on the Internet with PM Howard as ‘phoney’. Of three election debates, Rudd proposes to host one on YouTube. Downer retorted: ‘There'll be an election, and when there is an election, it won't be about YouTube debates, it will be about substance.’

This sentiment sits in direct contrast to Howard’s assertion that the Internet is ‘not some sort of gimmick’, as he sits primed for a conversation with voters through the tubes. Clearly, Downer needs to do a bit of searching for substance in Wikipedia himself, as he declared Australia’s parliamentary term as being three years and three months, rather than the Constitutional stipulation of three.

The world (including the Foreign Minister…) can now watch the news from the comfort of their Google homepage, with the launch of the 2007 Australian Federal Election site, an opportunity to ‘explore the Australian political landscape’ through YouTube videos and electorate-by-electorate announcements, overlaid on Google maps. At the site’s launch, ALP MP Peter Garrett notioned that this would probably be a ‘Google election’. All major parties have a presence on the web.

In addition to this, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is today launching a dedicated election page, which will feature the insightful graphics and new electronic pendulum tool of commentator Antony Green. With his usual astute observations and enviable manipulation of online tools, Antony analysed today’s Newspoll figures on Lateline, comparing Labor’s current standing to the equivalent election-lead-up in 1993, where the fall-off was earlier and their margin not so large. Whether swings will be consistent across the country is the great debate currently.

'If the swing was only 4 to 5 per cent, you could say that a marginal seat could help the Government hold on. They would actually hold on to some of those key marginals, make it harder for Labor to win. If the swing is still 6 to 7 per cent, then it's much harder for the Coalition to hang on to some of those marginals, and any they do hang onto maybe compensated for Labor by winning a seat beyond the uniform swing. So on these polls it's very hard to see how the Government can possibly win, but if they can claw back another two to three points and get the swing down to about 5 per cent, then you starting an election which will be much closer.'

More news of this, and a summary of last weekend’s Crikey events to come!

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