Rural campaigner blocked by ministers on Twitter

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
Raelene Hall says the gap between regional and metropolitan students won't be bridged by closing a residential college in a rural area whilst building a $64 million school in Perth.
Camera IconRaelene Hall says the gap between regional and metropolitan students won't be bridged by closing a residential college in a rural area whilst building a $64 million school in Perth. Credit: Twitter.

State Ministers have blocked a regional education advocate on Twitter for asking questions about cuts to funding in the bush.

Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association member and Neds Creek Station resident Raelene Hall asked ministers on Twitter how money could be found for unnecessary items when rural education was under threat.

She said questions like this caused Transport Minister Rita Saffioti and Education Minister Sue Ellery to block her regional education campaign account.

“The ministers’ social media accounts may be personal ones but when the majority of their posts are relating to their role as ministers then I think it is fair that they allow a two-way conversation,” Ms Hall said.

“I imagine it gets very tiring being asked the same questions over and over again but perhaps if they were answered it wouldn’t be such an issue.”

At least 16 other regional education campaigners have been blocked by one or multiple ministers, including Ms Ellery, Ms Saffioti and State Treasurer Ben Wyatt.

Mr Wyatt said he blocked two Moora Residential College advocates, one for being racist and another for being repeatedly abusive.

“I make it clear on my Twitter account that this type of abuse will see people blocked,” he said.

“I do note that more of the vitriol comes from anonymous users and few seem to live anywhere near Moora.

“I think it is important to understand that the Government has answered letters, spoke at rallies and answered numerous questions on this issue.

“People might not have liked the answer they received, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t received an answer or that they should then feel justified to stoop to abuse.”

Ms Ellery said she was within her rights to control what is posted on her social media accounts.

“I respect anyone’s right to post about what they choose on their own sites; however, my social media posts are mine and for me to use to promote my messages and the events I attend.”

Ms Saffioti said she was always open to hearing opinions shared respectfully, but there had been a tendency for people to engage in personal attacks and hijack social media posts unrelated to their cause.

She said one particular account was blocked because a user criticised a tweet about her son being excited about the first 2018 Fremantle Dockers game.

Ms Hall admitted she had seen offensive behaviour online and did not support it. “The majority of people conduct themselves very well but sometimes frustration does boil over,” she said.

“Politicians are happy to tweet that they’re opening the new Perth Stadium and isn’t it wonderful that there’s free train rides to the football for city people, yet there’s no money for rural education.

“As far as the Government is concerned, Moora is a non-issue.”

Ms Hall herself has blocked Labor MP Darren West because she felt he wasn’t going to stand up for his electorate and she didn’t want to get involved in issues people had with him.

Despite this, she said parliamentarians were elected and paid to represent people in WA.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails