Family First’s Steve Fielding got into the Senate – and got online, where he’s become a local pioneer of political vlogs. Here’s why he agrees with The Observer’s advice that MPs need to stop spinning and start blogging:
I love being out of the office and chatting to people. I really do. Put me in a food court or a shopping plaza and I couldn’t be happier. I also love doorknocking… honestly! You never know who you’re going to meet and what they’re going to say. Bowling up to people in the main street to introduce myself and say gidday is something else I do. Why? I reckon it’s got something to do with growing up as one of 16 kids – there were always people around, plenty of talk and heaps of noise. I hate silence!
One thing that annoys me about this job is that I can’t be out and about chatting to “real people” as much as I would like. I’d be on the road every day if I could, all over Victoria. The workload is intense, particularly all the stuff I have to read. I have never been a great reader and have never done so much reading in my life. I reckon I was one of the few politicians who read the entire Workplace Relations Act!
I have been doing my video blogs for seven months now and thought they would be a good way to communicate directly with people who I can’t meet face to face. The written blogs seem to me to be something for the enthusiasts – those who have the time to read, type back their comments and follow the commentary. I wanted something more accessible so I could speak ‘directly’ to families and small businesses who don’t have much time.
A video blog seemed the ideal solution, plus I think they are more entertaining. As an electronics engineer, I love gadgets and I carry my digital camera everywhere. When I’m working on a particular policy issue I do a short video blog to explain Family First’s position and invite viewers to email comments if they want. Like when Family First was campaigning against flogging off the rest of Telstra I filmed a blog outside one of the doomed payphones Telstra planned to axe. I’ve also done quite a few blogs at petrol stations to illustrate Family First’s campaign for the Government to cut petrol tax. But not all my blogs are policy related. My favourite blog is from the Commonwealth Games when my family and I sat in the stands at the MCG and watched “Supermum” Kerryn McCann win gold in the marathon. It was awesome to be there and great to share the moment via my blog!
One of the things I love most is ‘interviewing’ people for my blogs. I just bowl up to them, say gidday and ask them a question or two. It’s entirely unscripted and I don’t know what they’re going to say. A minute or two gives me enough time to tell people about Family First’s position on a particular issue. Most people think politics is boring so I try to make my blogs interesting and appealing. It’s my way of trying to reach people and have a bit of fun.
The biggest problem is getting the word out about your video blogs, so check them out at www.stevefielding.com.au and tell your friends.