Cone of silence update #2

Early this morning, I received a reply from Jaimie Abbott to last night’s email. Here it is (my reply follows):

Luke,

I don’t use Twitter.

Please understand I receive over 300 emails a day from members in my electorate and I don’t have a single paid staff member. I also work full time on top of being a candidate. I personally reply to every single email that comes my way and I personally manage my entire Facebook page myself. At the moment I can’t keep up with replying to and fro with a million comments on Facebook so if people have specific concerns I ask them to write me an email so I can add it to the queue to reply. Everyone else has been happy to do this. With such a high volume of emails, it usually takes me around a week or so to reply.

I apologise if this method isn’t suitable for you and you don’t believe this is substance and instead you preferred me to go back and forward on Facebook and therefore delaying replies to other email questions from others in the queue, but I’m just one human being. As a Candidate at the moment that’s all I am physically able to do. I have a huge challenge in trying to win a seat which has never been held by a Liberal MP and I am trying to meet and respond to as many people as possible.

If you actually live in my electorate, and have specific concerns please email me with your suburb and I will endeavour to reply.

Our policies are found at www.realsolutions.org.au

I will also be engaging in numerous live debates between now and the election, and I would invite you to come along and watch.

Thanks,

Regards
Jaimie Abbott | Liberal for Newcastle

I was genuinely surprised to hear that the LNP are offering so little support to Jaimie, given their obvious hopes for her campaign. I just sent this in reply:

Hi Jaimie,

Thanks for getting back to me.

I’m sorry to hear you’re so under-resourced for this campaign. I hope you – and your electorate – will be treated with more respect by the LNP as September 14 approaches.

Speaking of electorates, I’m actually in Charlton at this time, but yours is the only face I see in ads and banners, and given Kevin Baker appears to have zero presence anywhere (not even a profile on the LNP website), it seems you’re the only hope for the Liberal Party in this region. I’ve opened communications with you on that basis, and on behalf of those in my network who DO live in your electorate but are too disaffected with your party to even start the conversation. I can assure you they’re following with interest.

I remain frustrated (to put it mildly) by your gagging of discussion on Facebook (it is, after all, a social media platform, not a blogging platform), but I do understand your choice of protocol. That said, if you’re overwhelmed by correspondence, wouldn’t it make sense to collate the questions and address them once-for-all in a public context, i.e. online somewhere? (not necessarily Facebook!)

I appreciate that constructive social media interaction is difficult, especially without any staff, but as one voter who is desperate for Australian politics to actually mean something, I still contend that there must be something between the vacuous slogans of www.realsolutions.org.au (surely even you must be ashamed of that website), and managing hundreds of private emails. Something sustainable for you, that will provide voters with something to sink their teeth into!

Or perhaps the real issue is that you can’t be seen to offer more constructive policy discussion than your party’s leaders?

Anyway, I’ll leave all of this for you to consider, and I do look forward to the rest of your campaign. Meanwhile, I’ll try to devise some creative and sustainable solutions to this communication challenge. I would love to be able to facilitate a new form of collaborative dialog between political candidates and the public. Failing that, I’ll certainly check in closer to September 14 if there are still insufficient details on the table!

Good luck,

Luke

That’s it, for now. There will be plenty of time to follow up.

Cone of silence update #1

As expected, my comment was deleted from Jaimie Abbott’s Facebook page, and I was blocked from making any further comments. There was a reply that started “Luke, this page is mainly for promoting my…”, but I couldn’t read the rest before it was also deleted.

I’ve decided to pursue this lack of transparency to the fullest extent possible.

First, this email to Jaimie:

Hi Jaimie,

Unfortunately I didn’t see your reply to my post on your page before it was deleted it and I was blocked … perhaps you could fill me in?

Meanwhile, here’s a little more context for you:

[link to my personal Facebook post on the matter]

More on Twitter, if you’re not too busy. I promise I won’t delete it.

I’m sure you can understand my disappointment re: your unwillingness to participate in public discussion of LNP policy. Given you’re asking for my vote, I would expect you to be jumping at the opportunity to demonstrate that you have political substance across a wide range of issues. Regurgitating LNP press releases is not substance. Photo ops are not substance. Private email correspondence, however impressive yours may be, is not substance.

You, and your party, need to offer some insightful, compassionate, responsible, visionary, detailed policy. You’ve put your name next to the LIBERAL logo in this electorate, which means you’re asking me to help you form a Coalition government as my representative, and I don’t think a little substance is too much to ask in exchange. I will do everything in my power to extract it from you – or to spread the word about your lack of it – between now and September 14.

FYI, I don’t have any affiliation with any political party at this time.

Here’s to the next 5-ish months!

Cheers,

Luke

I’ll keep you informed.

Politicians + cone of silence = me + red flag

A few days ago, I used the relevant Facebook page to ask a number of questions of Jaimie Abbott (LNP), who’s standing for the federal seat of Newcastle. Among other things, I was critical of her party’s not-actually-broadband policy, which she was praising, but I wasn’t especially ruthless (on a scale of “0” to “Leigh Sales 2012”, I was probably a 4). Today, I noticed that all of my posts were gone, along with many others that weren’t completely flattering to Jaimie’s party. So, I just posted the following on her page. Because it will be deleted soon (federal Libs don’t know how else to handle social media), I’m repeating it here:

Jaimie, I notice you’ve ignored/deleted a significant number of posts, from me and others, where legitimate questions were asked and thoughtful policy critique was offered. Looking through your page just now, I see nothing remains that in any way questions the coalition or its policy platform.

Given you are standing as a Liberal for the federal seat of Newcastle and hope to play a significant role in leading this country, I urge you to communicate openly with constituents via all available means, and to avail yourself of the opportunity social media provides to do this transparently. Asking people with inconvenient questions to move the discussion to email is cowardly and shows little respect for the office you intend to hold as this region’s representative in Parliament.

None of the posts I made contravened the social media policy you’ve published here, and all were significantly more edifying than most of your own party’s contributions to, say, question time in Canberra. So, why were they deleted? Do you intend to communicate openly with those you’re asking to represent? Are you interested in adding a little substance to the political conversation in this country? Or are you just another victim of Tony’s cone of silence?

Will she respond publicly? N/N