Web 2.0 lacking in political debate: Gruen

Opposition and minor parties need to lift their game, says former head of the Gov 2.0 Taskforce

The opposition and minor parties haven't fully utilised the power of Web 2.0 technologies to shift the political debate, according to the head of the Gov 2.0 Taskforce, Nicholas Gruen.

The taskforce was formed to explore ways the Federal Government could use new technology – such as blogs, Twitter and social networking - to encourage greater citizen participation and promote more transparency in agency decision-making and administration.

Dr Gruen praised the Government's response to the recommendations and also the efforts of Labor party members of parliament including Senator Kate Lundy, former finance minister, Lindsay Tanner, and former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

He was less complimentary of the efforts of the Opposition and minor parties such as the Greens and said that overall the parties hadn't effectively engaged voters with Gov 2.0 ideology and Web 2.0 technologies.

This is because they're largely focused on participating in the “he said/she said” vernacular of the mainstream media.

“Parties are full of people that want to control messages and they have to be because the media won't accept anything except messages that aren't controlled,” Dr Gruen said.

“The opposition are always starved for good news, the media dynamics are such the only coverage they get for criticising.”

He praised shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey's use of Twitter to critique question time but said this could be taken further and technology could de-centre the debate away from the media's daily sound bites, he said.

The opposition could use new technology to collaborate with the community to develop policy, identify opportunities to actually implement this, and promote the work, he said.

“The opposition could promote initiatives which are the kinds of things they'd like to see. I.e. not just say the Government should fund more drop-in centres for homeless people, but maybe run one, do some of the kinds of things that show what they want to do with the levers of policy.

“That could be really powerful because people have an incredible thirst for politicians that do more than talk.

“That's a Gov 2 idea, 'be the change you want to be' and not thinking the thing is run by figureheads at the top... It also looks backwards to an older community based idea of politics.”

Labor senator, Kate Lundy, has already achieved this to build her own supporter base outside the traditional Labor party rank and file, he said.

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