Hillary Clinton announced her intention to run for president on her website. Barack Obama has started to twitter. John Edwards has a Second Life build. Pollster used tag clouds during the Democrat debates. This is just taste of the online presence of the US primaries, and there’s still 10 months to go.

Don’t know what any of this means? Neither do our politicians. The online presence of Australian politics in the lead-up to the election is a wasteland. Discounting the boring official websites, a few fake MySpace pages, Andrew Bartlett’s blog, the odd video diary and a couple of YouTube clips from the Victorian DLP  — what’s left? White noise.

The web is the one of the best ways to communicate the party message. It lets the baby kissers campaign online instead of the local supermarket and it’s a great way for constituents to talk back. So why aren’t our politicians diving in?

The long list of fake MySpace pages for Australian pollies says a lot about the online vacuum. If politicians don’t fill it, someone’s sure to do it for them:

Kevin Rudd 

John Howard

Alexander Downer

Amanda Vanstone

Pauline Hanson

Anna Bligh

Tony Abbott

Steve Bracks

Peter Garrett

A quick glance of web analysts Hitwise on the online habits of potential voters hints at the online vacuum. Analyst Sandra Hanchard writes:

We’re seeing search terms for ‘Kevin Rudd’ more often being delivered to news and media websites and blogs, while online users are typically landing at the Prime Minister’s official homepage when they search for ‘John Howard’. It’s interesting that visits to Wikipedia is common to searches for both politicians…

Politicians and their parties can’t ignore the web, it will bite them one way or another. Instead, they should try engaging with it. 

And while we eagerly await the Prime Minister’s Facebook profile, Crikey will strive to fill the vacuum — but we need your help.

Send any footage or photos of our politicians at work or play and examples of Australian political web savvy [email protected].

In the meantime, here’s a YouTube clip of the Treasurer being kicked in the knee by a Ninja Turtle: