On Thursday March 21st, Australian politics had a pretty dramatic day. Federal Labour was sent into disarray when (now ex) cabinet minister Simon Crean called on Kevin Rudd to make a leadership challenge to party leader Julia Gillard.
Now we’re not political pundits, so you can rest assured that we won’t be boring you with any dry, long-winded analysis. What we’re interested in is how the whole affair played out on social media.
Twitter saw by far the most activity, with the hashtags #auspol, #ALP, #Labor, #Rudd, #Gillard, #spill, and #leadership flooded with tweets. The ABC reported that between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. on March 21st, roughly 1,500 tweets were being sent out each minute, with 247,000 related tweets in total. The peak was at 4:22 p.m., when Rudd announced he wouldn’t be challenging.
Facebook was used mostly to reiterate statements to the media. Australian Labor asserted that it would be “getting on with the job”, while Kevin Rudd (or equivalent ghost writer) made a post in which he said he’d honour his word and “not challenge for the Labor leadership.” Julia Gillard didn’t post anything, but on the Labor Party blog she wrote a post entitled ‘We’ll get on with it‘. (Looks like Labor has settled on its go-to line…)
Facebook comments were mixed all round, with both Kevin and Julia lampooned and defended by a clearly divided public. One consistency was the general discontent with the Labor Party’s performance in office, and another was the widespread lamentation that the only alternative is a thoroughly-uninspiring Liberal Party.
Welcome to Australian politics.
Check out this infographic from The Australian to see the social media stats of our leading politicians. They’re from February 2013, but are still more or less up to date. We found the most popular unofficial Facebook pages for each pretty amusing. Julia Gillard’s is ‘I hate Julia Gillard’, Kevin Rudd’s is ‘Kevin Rudd for PM’, while opposition leader Tony Abbott’s is ‘Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote for Tony Abbot’.
What did you think of the whole ordeal? Did you follow it on social media? Could it have been handled better? Let us know down in the comments!