Dog-whistling in the Twitterverse

From PM Julia Gillard's Twitter account.

Twitter, for the few who may not know, is a social networking internet service that enables its users to send and read other users' messages (tweets) of up to 140 characters.

Increasingly, politicians are using Twitter as part of their (managed) media work.

Shortly after becoming prime minister, Julia Gillard joined the Twitterverse.

“1.54PM Jul 4: I’ve decided it’s time to take the Twitter plunge! Hopefully I’ll master it. JG.”

By her second Tweet, she (or perhaps a specially assigned member of her staff) was behaving like a seasoned Tweeting politician.

“12.15PM, Jul 5: It has been a morning of reflection. My thoughts are with all the men and women of our military, their families and their sacrifices. JG.”

Like all Gillard's speeches as PM, this was carefully worded to indicate her new socially and politically conservative image. Her next Tweets pressed the same buttons even harder.

“Jul 7: I met the border patrol team on HMAS Broome and their Commander Kylie today. They’re securing our borders. That’s my aim too. JG.”

Dog-whistle politics means using language that is coded to mean one thing to most people, but has a different meaning for a subgroup you’re targeting.

Gillard’s target audience is people in Western Sydney, regional Queensland and Western Australia who feel “anxiety and indeed fears ... when they see boats intercepted”.

But the PM should also think of the support she is losing. One wit tweeted:

“If @juliagillard mimics Abbott on refugees she'll lose a gen 2the Greens faster than she got followers on twitter.”

Sharon Firebrace, Indigenous activist and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate for Victoria, described the political moment we are at in Australia today as "another chapter in our country's racist shame".

Please help Green Left Weekly give a voice to the people who are speaking out against this ugly bipartisan race to the right.

You can donate online today here, or direct deposits can be made to Greenleft, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 00901992. Otherwise, you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007 or phone in a donation through on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia).


IN CONVERSATION WITH BRUCE PASCOE: The Climate Emergency & Indigenous Land Practice


Zoom panel featuring Bunurong man Bruce Pascoe, award-winning Australian writer and editor, author of Dark Emu: Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident?

Also featuring agroecologist Alan Broughton, filmmaker & Rural Fire Service volunteer Robynne Murphy and City of Moreland councillor Sue Bolton.

For more information call (02) 8070 9341 or 0403 517 266. Hosted by Green Left.