Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Politics Of Blogging About Politics.

What did the Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek do immediately after announcing Australia's long-overdue dental health-care overhaul at a press conference earlier today?

She got straight onto a conference call with some bloggers and answered all of their questions.

The bloggers were briefed in an email from a Parliament staffer yesterday about an upcoming health announcement, and given the chance to participate. Some respectfully declined, a lot said yes.

I said yes. An hour beforehand, I put the call out on my twitter feed for any questions people might have in response to the announcement. The first three questions that came through to me were all the same:

"What did she cut, to make way for this?"

A discussion ensued. When would the dental plan start taking effect? Is it just for low-income earners? Will Australia now follow the UK's lead and provide dental care for pregnant women?

Other bloggers today included Mrs Woog from Woogsworld. In little over an hour, fifty comments appeared on her blogs Facebook page about her reader's experiences and problems facing dental healthcare in this country. Kim Berry from All Consuming used the opportunity to talk about her son Oscar. He has special needs, abhors the dentist, so must be put under a general anaesthetic during dental work. Kim asked the Minister if he will be better off after this scheme starts.

Other representatives from the online space were from popular Australian parenting websites Essential Baby and Bub Hub.

Do I care about oral health reform? Very much, actually. Once upon a time I was so broke I chose getting some teeth pulled over expensive root canal therapy. Waited at 6am at the Dental Teaching Hospital in Sydney, for the pleasure of having a trainee oral surgeon place his knee on my chest to gain more traction as he pulled my stubborn molars out.

I miss my molars.

So why the interaction with bloggers? From the Parliament House Communications Team:

"We recognise the importance of bloggers and genuinely want more people to have the facts on what we are doing. It's about respecting bloggers and their audiences."

I'm not a soft vote to be targeted. I'm not a Labor Party puppet, nor do I do the Governments PR. I get to participate in discussions relevant to Australian politics today, and invite my online community into those discussions ... whatever their political persuasion. Would I go to a morning tea with Tony Abbott? Bring it on! I'd love to ask him about his policies.


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Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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