The offices of WA Premier Colin Barnett and fisheries minister Troy Buswell will have their email servers tested again today, as activist groups continue to target the email inboxes of parliamentarians to protest against the state’s shark cull policy.
Earlier this month the Department of Premier and Cabinet publicly blamed Greenpeace for flooding its public inbox with anti-cull emails, which it claimed made communication difficult during a critical bushfire crisis.
The activist group said that the state’s leader should have the infrastructure in place to deal with communication from the public.
Today the Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA) will encourage its followers to send a semi-automated message to their local MP, all of which will be copied onto Barnett and Buswell’s public-facing email addresses.
CCWA director Piers Verstegen said the organisation was hoping to send 3000 messages with the campaign, which was ‘soft launched’ on social media late last night Perth time.
Followers will be directly notified by email today, and Vertstegen said this would likely kick off higher volumes of traffic.
However he was not expecting anywhere near the kinds of numbers that would reasonably compromise the IT infrastructure of any of the campaign recipients.
“We are not anticipating that this will be a national campaign or go viral globally like the Greenpeace effort...We might see three, four or five thousand messages sent in all, not huge numbers.
“I don’t anticipate that anyone’s email system will have any technical problems as a result,” he told iTnews.
Whether or not the CCWA’s action fills a public-facing email inbox is not a pressing concern for Verstegen.
Rather, he is more concerned at a growing sense of ‘campaign fatigue’ on the part of elected representatives who were beginning to ignore online campaigns.
“I think there is a trend in across many governments where elected representatives are no longer taking email campaigns seriously, even when they include large numbers of constituents.”
The former political advisor said that just because technology has enabled members of the public to contact politicians with greater ease doesn’t necessarily mean that the message they are trying to get across can be taken for granted.
In an attempt to regain the attention of law-makers, CCWA has changed its model of online campaigning to target local MPs with personalised messages from their direct constituents.
The tool that will be used to generate anti-shark cull messages today features an algorithm that automatically targets a sender’s local member based on their postcode, even when districts overlap multiple electorates.
“We think this will have a greater impact than sending thousands of messages to the Premier,” said the CCWA leader. “I think this is the next evolution of this kind of online activism.”