Looking at the political sites listed in the study package, select two to visit. What type of political involvement do they encourage or enable?
An organisation consisting of a community of Australians who wish for their voice to be heard by those with political power. As a member, I can state with confidence that GetUp! encourages participation from its membership in a number of ways. This can take effect through online petitions and providing members with opportunities to send emails to parliamentary representatives regarding issues of concern. Members can also choose to donate money to GetUp!, either on a regular basis, or as “one-offs” for particular causes. GetUp! also effects mobilisation of the public, organising protests for members and their communities to attend and support. They can enable the creation and airing of television ads highlighting issues of concern to its members, members’ attendance of an event, successful lobbying, media engagement or meetings amongst local members. GetUp! is an “…independent, grassroots, community advocacy organisation that seeks to build a more progressive Australia and hold politicians to account.”
An austere page, this site does not encourage much political involvement. There is a contact form for a site visitor to fill out if they wish to contact Tony Abbott to “ask a question, give advice and pass on well-wishes”. There is also a ‘Your Government’ section of the web site that supposedly provides a PDF list of the ministers of the current government – however, when I tried to view this list, I received errors stating that the link is not working.
Fascinated by the feeling of exclusiveness emanating from the entire site, I decided to search for previous iterations of the same URL for previous PMs, as I have always looked at party pages, never thinking to look for a site specifically about the Prime Minister of Australia. I inserted the URL into the Way Back Machine, and found Howard, Rudd and Gillard’s versions of the same site. Very different feeling viewing the sites for Gillard and Rudd! They still focus on the PM, but the ‘Your Government’ sections were filled with photographs of each Minister, along with their roles and contact details. John Howard’s version of the site focused heavily on family values and his “favourite sites” on the web, offering many sports-oriented pages revolving around AFL, Rugby League and Cricket. I finally deduced that the official PM site was based heavily on the personality of the PM of the day, a fact that is quite telling, when considering how the current PM’s site looks, compared to the previous three PMs.
I’m sure my bias is obvious, but the Labor PMs’ web sites seemed far more inclusive, offering a myriad of ways to contact the PM and his/her ministers. Plus, they offered transcripts of interviews that were given by all representatives in the government for scrutiny. The Liberal PMs’ site were far more focused on the PM’s achievements, qualifications and history in politics, not providing much encouragement for engagement or contact if the site’s visitor wanted to do so.
A FELLOW STUDENT’S RESPONSE:
With regards to “Get Up”, do you find that you are a more passive or active as a member? Do you feel like you are bombarded with information and forms to fill out? I ask because I often feel that sites like this will actively hound me for input or action. Hence, I don’t sign up. I think this can be a double-edged sword as encouraging interaction is dependent on how much time the individual can, or wants to, commit to the activities before resentment sets in. I guess I just want to be able to pick and choose whilst being a member of a site such as Get Up.
MY RESPONSE TO THIS STUDENT:
My GetUp! membership is but a part of a large political engagement process that I partake of. I am active in as many ways as possible (when I work full-time and study part-time) – not just through GetUp!, but I’m a member of a political party, and assist by volunteering my time and energy for organisations like the ASRC (Asylum Seeker Resource Centre), Amnesty International, Medicins Sans Frontieres, EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), Greenpeace. I actively donate monthly to these organisations. However, due to my time limitations, I am also selective about which causes I devote the most time to. Activities such as writing letters/emails to parliamentary representatives, party meetings, social media strategies and engagement, petitions, information sharing events, protests, blog posts, even speaking with anyone that I sense has an open mind about such matters, all of these are in my arsenal.
As for the bombardment you referred to, I can see why some people would feel that way. Perhaps, as I’m a regularly donating member, GetUp! has figured out which causes matter the most to me and ask for my help/participation about once a week (on average)…? I understand your comments about the “double-edged sword”, but my experience is more positive, as I have an interest in remaining abreast of such inundation. LOL
As a skimmer extraordinaire, I am quite adept at noticing the information on my screen that is of most interest or pertinent to my work/studies at the time. I guess one has to be when one is a heavy social media user as I am.