Google launches election website
Date: Sunday, September 16 2007
I know this is not about Canadian democracy but if Google makes this widely available it could have a major impact. Digital democracy come of age? (rural)
Google launches Australian election website
Last Updated: 2:41am BST 15/09/2007
Google Australia has unveiled what it describes as the world's most powerful dedicated election website, capable of exposing inconsistencies in the public pronouncements of political leaders.
With an election due in Australia before the end of the year, Google said the website would be a powerful tool for voters and would help generate debate during the upcoming campaign.
Prime Minister John Howard, who has announced policies online for the first time in the lead-up to the election, said politicians were now taking the Internet seriously.
"I recognise that this medium is not some sort of gimmick but can provide an uninterrupted, direct and open channel between decision-makers and voters," Mr Howard said in a video presentation at the site's launch.
His conservative government has targeted Internet users as it seeks to reverse poor opinion polls and win a fifth term in office.
Google's Australian-developed election site includes a feature called "On the Record", where users can type in a politician's name, along with an issue of their choosing. It then scours parliamentary transcripts and the politician's personal website to find any statements on the issue, allowing voters to check whether their representatives are being consistent.
It also gives voters electoral information through a range of online tools including YouTube, GoogleEarth and GoogleMaps. Google said it was the first time so many features had been available on a single election website.
Peter Garrett, the former singer with protest rockers Midnight Oil who is now environment spokesman for the opposition Labour party, said the Internet would have a massive impact on the election.
"This will probably be a Google election," Mr Garrett told reporters. "I think it's going to encourage a generation of Australians who have used online access as one of their major communications, education and socialisation tools from a very young age, to key into what I think will be a very exciting political campaign."
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on September 17, 2007]