Australians Are Counter-Trolling Christopher Pyne's ABC Petition


If there’s one thing politicians love it’s looking like they are at the fore of an authentic, bottom-up grassroots movement.

Sure, you may have to pass-off some irate shock-jocks and billionaires as a ‘peoples revolt’ to do so, but there’s significant political capital to be gained if you can get away with it.

Yesterday, Christopher Pyne took this political play to the next level; he’s trying to ride a grassroots revolt against himself.

The Minister for Education spent yesterday spruiking a petition aimed at stopping the ABC from closing TV production operations in his home state of South Australia.

The petition includes references to some well-loved ABC content and a classical end of petition call to arms: “Please ensure that the ABC does not close its production house in Adelaide,” Pyne wrote.

And thus Pyne’s People Movement began, a righteous quest to stop a greedy corporation shutting down production in lowly Adelaide and giving its hard-working South Australian employees the boot. Classic David and Goliath stuff which no doubt will one day inspire its own telemovie.

Despite his hope to save jobs, Pyne’s petition actually put one man out of work immediately.

But Pyne had a problem; the people in his movement were moving the wrong way.

Rather than thank the Minister for kickstarting their grassroots campaign, Pyne was inundated with complaints pointing out that, as a member of the Cabinet who decided to cut $254 million from Aunty, he bears direct responsibility for any resulting job cuts.

People began to troll back, and they trolled back hard.

In the petition’s comment section, readers signed and left comments as their favourite ABC detractors.

But at least he had some old friends at his back.

Jasmine and Tim struck the tone of most comments.

Though not everyone seemed to see the irony.

All in all, Chris seemed to think the Pyne People’s Revolt was a success.

The petition isn’t going too badly for signatures, up to 2,045 at last count.

As Patrick Begley at Fairfax pointed out, this likely announces the arrival of a new form of hate expression: the hate-signing of a petition.

Max Chalmers is a former New Matilda journalist and editorial staff member. His main areas of interest are asylum seekers, higher education and politics.