It’s not that the Member for Watson, Tony Burke, isn’t big enough or tough enough to defend himself. In fact I suspect he’s more than capable, being a member of the NSW Right. But after watching the (not so) lighthearted journo jabs at his tweets in my Twitter-stream today, I feel compelled to jump to his defence.
It’s not easy for a politician to hit the right note on Twitter. Some think its just another megaphone with which to blast criticisms at their opponents. Others use it to mouth their own party’s meaningless pap and propaganda.
But Burke has got the balance right. He uses it to make real connections with real people. How do I know this? Because I talked to him about it.
I first started to take notice of Burke’s Twitter-style when he began to tweet about his road trips to Canberra each Sunday before a parliamentary sitting. The old political campaigner in me thought “How clever, to send such an innocuous tweet with such a powerful subliminal message.” In my mind’s eye I could see those of Burke’s constituents on Twitter nodding with approval that their MP drove himself to Canberra rather than take the easier limosine-plane-limosine option.
When I commended Burke on this cunning strategy he demurred. He claimed that he tweets his movements for more modest reasons (1) to let his constituents know where he is and what he is doing, (2) to let journalists know when he is on a plane so they know when he is uncontactable and (3) to let his staff, friends and colleagues know when it is a good time to call him.
Whether he does it for political or practical reasons, I think Burke tweets well.
And I’m surprised that the journos making fun of him today (@BernardKeane “I’ve grabbed a coffee on my way to the study) didn’t think to look a little further into Burke’s objectives before making fun of him.