In breaking news, Labor candidates have been banned from doing radio interviews in the lead-up to the federal election.

It follows a ban on Twitter by Liberal Party headquarters, in a bid to avoid “stuff-ups and scandals”.

The Greens are boycotting TV interviews, while the Shooters Party takes aim at Facebook.

It seems they really do want to shoot the messenger.

While the aforementioned moves by Labor, the Greens and the Shooters are figments of my fertile imagination, the Liberals’ is not.

In true Twitter style, it’s already spawned a hashtag, #ThingstoodangerousfortheLNP.

“Cause twitter is more likely to damage the brand than this boofhead @TonAbbottMHR”, wrote @leftocentre.

The list also includes:

  • Policy costings
  • Saying what they think
  • Any forum not hosted by Alan Jones
  • Barnaby Joyce on Q&A
  • Mark Riley asking awkward questions
  • Intelligent debate on social media

Sensibly, @TurnbullMalcolm rejected the directive immediately: “Nobody has asked me to stop tweeting. And I will continue to do so. A key part of the job…”

While it’s easy to laugh off such a suggestion, it reflects a disconnection between political parties and the general public.

Politicians, corporations and lobby groups can use Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to reach a vast audience, disenchanted with the MSM (mainstream media).

As a radio broadcaster, I use Twitter to dig up stories, communicate with people too nervous to talk on air, and prosecute thoughts and ideas. Of course I’ve stuffed up; at times I’ve fed the trolls. But it’s not terminal.

What are the Libs so scared of? That their candidates are too stupid?

Unable to think before they Tweet?

Or unwilling to engage with those who disagree with them?

Sure, Twitter is left-leaning.

But I thought the purpose of an election campaign was to get as many votes as possible? Perhaps Captain Catholic prefers preaching to the converted.

There’s another problem with this edict: It’s the Luddite’s Lament.

When former US President Rutherford B. Hayes made a call from Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone in 1876, he is reported to have said, “An amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one?”

The advent of the wireless was accompanied by warnings about family breakdown and, inevitably, the disintegration of civil society.

As for TV, in the words of writer and satirist Peter De Vries, “My father hated radio and could not wait for television to be invented so he could hate that too”.

Really, the medium doesn’t matter – it’s all about the message.

Labor MP Steve Gibbons, who tweeted that Tony Abbott is a “gutless douchebag” and Julie Bishop a “narcissistic bimbo”, could have easily said those things in a newspaper column, radio interview, or TV panel.

Liberal council candidate, Matthew Hammon clearly holds anti-Islamic views, outside of his provocative tweets in the aftermath of the Sydney riots.

Our thoughts are not soley determined by the messenger.

Instead of being banned from Twitter, these politicians need a lesson in good, old fashioned common sense.

Only tweet what you would be happy to see on the front page of the newspaper; treat people the way you would like to be treated; and engage your brain before putting your mouth, or finger, into gear.




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*Tracey Spicer is a respected journalist who has worked for many years in radio, print and television.
Channel Nine and 10 news presenter and reporter; 2UE and Vega broadcaster; News Ltd. columnist; Sky News anchor …it’s been a dream career for the Brisbane schoolgirl with a passion for news and current affairs.
Tracey is a passionate advocate for issues as diverse as voluntary euthanasia, childhood vaccinations, breastfeeding, better regulation of foreign investment in Australia’s farmland, and curtailed opening hours for pubs and clubs. She is an Ambassador for World Vision, ActionAid, WWF, the Royal Hospital for Women’s Newborn Care Centre and the Penguin Foundation, Patron of Cancer Council NSW and The National Premmie Foundation, and the face of the Garvan Institute’s research into pancreatic cancer, which killed her beloved mother Marcia 11 years ago. But Tracey’s favourite job, with her husband, is bringing up two beautiful children – six-year-old Taj and five-year-old Grace. Visit Tracey’s website at or follow her on Twitter @spicertracey.


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  • Reply December 11, 2012


    “Only tweet what you would be happy to see on the front page of the newspaper; treat people the way you would like to be treated; and engage your brain before putting your mouth, or finger, into gear.”

    HA HA. Now why didn’t Abbott just say that to his Ministers? I give you a clue as to why I think he didnt . He has No Co***nSe***

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    […] Think Before You Tweet […]

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    Benison O'Reilly

    Rule number 1: Never, ever, tweet when you’re drunk

    Rule number 2: Never tweet when you’re completely livid about something.

    A few moments of quiet reflection never hurt anyone. If you still feel strongly about an issue, tweet when you’ve calmed down and are able to be coherent and non-libelous.

    A few non-pollies could apply those rules, too.

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    I rarely tweet, but I do follow quite a few people as I am interested in what they write (like finding this article via twitter), though, that also means that there are people like me who will come across some nasty exchanges, so maybe remembering that it is not only the person who you are directly tweeting who will see what you are saying and maybe form an adverse opinion because of what they see?

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    Wise words Tracey and I’m in agreement with you on most of this; however I don’t think I’m ready to see the F word, or ‘arsehat’ on the front page of the paper just yet.

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    I’ve often typed tweets & emails and then walked away without pressing the send button only to come back later and delete the comments I’ve written and felt better for it. Especially with issues that are emotionally charged (current prank story case in point). Quite a few people would do well to employ the same tactic.

    Sometimes it feels good to get your thoughts out, but that’s all. Leave it there, walk away dont send. If you still feel strongly after a while, go ahead, but nine times out of ten, you’ll delete your comments. Try it.

    • Reply December 11, 2012

      Wendy Harmer

      Gee this is good advice!! I will try it. Well done.

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    Petit Armoir

    Meanwhile Julia Gillard and her team have taken Social Media by the horns. Guess who’ll be getting the younger generation and women’s vote in the next election? Certainly not Tony Abbot and his bunch of behind the times, misogynistic, sexist fools!

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    I am with you Kath. This is a rule I have used going back to the days when we put pen to paper to write letters (I am very old!) The temptation to have a spray when you are really riled up about something can be very strong and almost always when I have put the angry, upset letter (or email) aside and thought of it actively as a draft, I have made changes later to make it clearer, more rational, less offensive or just correct the damn typos! And then send.

    • Reply December 11, 2012


      Yes Gwen, the last line of my post probably should have read that you’ll either delete your comments or exactly what you said – make them clearer, more rational, less offensive. I often ask myself is there anything further I can add to the discussion that hasn’t already been said or is it better left alone? A lot of the time the answer is “leave it, someone else has said it or it’s not going to add anything”.

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    Social media is a great medium for politicians to ‘connect’ with the general public. If the Liberal Party can’t trust its own members to publically express themselves in unguarded, unscripted moments, then how could they expect people to have any faith in them? The fact that they are prepared to ban their party members from using Twitter reflects not only a lack of faith in their own party but also an archaic, conservative mentality which is out of touch with the average Australian. Backwards and desperate Liberals!

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    Yes, I’m also with you on this one Kath. Could have joined the retweet brigade a few times of late but decided to leave well enough alone.
    I just hope that those two in the limelight at present are able to move on with their lives. They must be feeling absolutely ghastly and let down both by their employers and themselves.

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    Tracey asked:
    What are the Libs so scared of? That their candidates are too stupid?

    Unable to think before they Tweet?

    Or unwilling to engage with those who disagree with them?

    Hmmm… I think the answer is yes to all three!

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    Do my comments “add” anything? Probably not. Anyway~ good suggestions from contributers.

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    “…treat people the way you would like to be treated; and engage your brain before putting your mouth, or finger, into gear.”
    Umm…probably a good idea to take your own advice and layoff the gratuitous name calling – political discourse in this country is quite grubby enough. For example, would it be acceptable if Captain Catholic was replaced with Captain Islam or Captain Jewish? If not…then don’t..

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    Fair point, Jennifer. But Tony Abbott is proud of his Catholicism. I didn’t see it as an insult, so much as an observation. Cheers.

  • Reply December 11, 2012


    “… treat people the way you would like to be treated …” . Sorry, may have missed something; do you have different politicians than the rest of us?

  • Reply December 12, 2012


    What is this? intelligent people don’t criticise either side they talk about the issues,
    I don’t much like the way Julia Gillard attacks people so rudely, not much is said about that point on the ABC- I would like to see more balance and neutral reporting- there has been so much corruption uncovered lately- it is very dissapointing and worrying.

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