It might be Doomsday (with the introduction of the carbon tax), but for Finance Minister Penny Wong, it is a brave new world.
Senator Wong joined Twitter this morning, clocking up about 4000 followers within hours of posting her first message.
‘‘It’s a little overwhelming and surprising,’’ Senator Wong said today.
But the Finance Minister has also had to deal with the fact that “Fake Penny Wong” already has an established presence on the social media site, with more followers than Senator Wong herself.
Fake Penny Wong, who bills herself as ‘‘Minister for everything Garrett wants and can’t have’’, has about 5700 followers after starting an account more than three years ago.
The real Senator Wong conceded she has an uphill battle in her opening message: “I’m not as funny as @Fake_Penny_Wong but I’ve decided it’s time to go online. Good to join you all on Twitter.”
In a postmodern moment, Fake Penny Wong tweeted her frustration that she was now being impersonated by the (real) South Australian senator: “Am so over smart arses pretending to be me. It takes away from my time keeping this country afloat.”
Fake Penny’s identity remains something of a mystery. When The National Times asked the Fake Senator if she was based in Canberra she only answered: ”I won’t be ruling in or ruling out my location moving forward.’’
In a sign of their mutual interest, both Senator Wong and Fake Penny Wong have followed each other, so they will be able to keep updated with what their selves (real or otherwise) are tweeting.
Senator Wong said she thought her fake alter ego was ‘‘very, very funny’’.
‘‘Some of her tweets are eerily on the money,’’ she said. ‘‘I don’t know who she is but I think she’s a great contributor.’’
The Finance Minister said she had been resisting the move to Twitter for some time but was looking forward to updating people on what she’s doing and thinking. However, there are some caveats.
‘‘I do hate to disappoint people, but I don’t think I’ll be tweeting pictures of [baby daughter] Alexandra,’’ she said.
Senator Wong has also announced she was ’’going all out’’ today and has launched a new website.But she said there was no particular connection to this new online presence and the fact the government has begun selling the carbon tax in earnest.
‘‘I did say to my press sec, if the world didn’t end on July the first then I was in [on Twitter], so here I am,’’ she said.
Senator Wong joins many of her political colleagues on Twitter. But she has a long way to go before clocking up followers on par with former Labor leader Kevin Rudd (about 1,124,000), Prime Minister Julia Gillard (244,600) and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (70,500).
But at the rate she’s going, Senator Wong stands a good chance of catching up with Fake Penny, and Treasurer Wayne Swan, who has about 19,700 followers.
Follow the National Times on Twitter: @NationalTimesAU
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