Google Australia has revealed a new interest in politics -- with the launch today of online coverage of the upcoming Australian federal election.
Google today revealed a new set of tools, using some of its existing products -- such as Google Maps and YouTube -- to highlight this year's federal election.
Voters can see the party distribution and candidate details across all seats nationwide, as well as electoral boundaries, using Google's map tool. YouTube now has dedicated channels for all six political parties currently represented in parliament, as well as another channel for election commentary and feedback.
"New technologies allow a conversation with voters which has never been possible before," Google Australia's head of engineering, Alan Noble, said.
The Minister for Workplace Relations, Joe Hockey, attended the launch in Sydney today, alongside Opposition Spokesperson for the Environment Peter Garrett. Both stressed their party's committment to using the Internet as a campaigning tool, and said it was an important means for voters to get information on any election issue.
"We all need to be more aware of online campaigning and the impact it will have on this election. The Government has embraced online sites like YouTube as a way of connecting with voters and detailing our policies," Hockey said.
Labor's Garrett added: "The Labor Party has a big online presence and a YouTube channel because we see it as a way to talk about our policies, to get out there and let people know what we stand for."
Video messages from Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd were also played to show their support for the event.
Other tools released today by Google include an 'On the Record' gadget which lets users research all 226 federal MPs' past record on any given issue, by searching parliamentary Hansard records and the members' personal Web pages; and an application of the experimental Google Trends feature to compare the Australian search and news statistics of various parties, candidates or issues.