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By Elise Hodge, Media Consultant 

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Image: SBS

Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the argument, social media has passed a harsh judgement on the Queensland Government’s nightclub lockout laws.

In one fell swoop, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has alienated a very large number of her voting contingent. In the early hours of the morning, the premier passed the contentious lockout laws with the support of Katter’s Australian Party. The new lockout laws will change the face of entertainment precincts around the state, and young voters have been scathing in their response.

Over the last 24 hours, Facebook has exploded with statuses, comments and threats from voters under 30, saying they will ‘never, ever vote for Queensland Labor again’. Meanwhile, the Twittersphere has gone into meltdown, with outcries about Queensland being a ‘nanny state’, and concern for Queensland’s nightlife, transport and security, with tweeters saying the laws are ‘just asking for trouble’.

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This issue serves to highlight the widening gap between what is reported in traditional media and what is talked about online. The Courier Mail has appeared to welcome the lockout laws, saying the public should maintain an ‘open mind’ as it enters the trial period. But even a cursory glance over social media – the channels favoured by the generation most affected – paints a starkly different picture.

Thousands of young people have turned to the premier’s Facebook page with such ferociousness, that it’s difficult to envision the Labor Party ever being able to win back the love. Hordes of (predominantly young) people have hurled abuse, while others have expressed their disappointment and a genuine sense of betrayal from a government entrusted to make decisions on their behalf.

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But the situation has been compounded by the fact that the Premier’s social media channels have remained untouched (and unchecked it seems), amid the mounting anger.

No updates, no explanations, no communication whatsoever, with the demographic that has been angered the most.

Politicians dealing with contentious issues, who devote their efforts to mainstream media, and erroneously ignore social media channels, face the risk of losing votes from younger Australians.

We've seen many examples of politicians using social media to run effective campaigns, including in the lead up to the 2015 Queensland election, but in this instance the damage from this contentious piece of legislation, and the failure to address the social media backlash, may be irreparable, and it serves as a valuable lesson on the dangers of alienating one demographic, by bowing to another.

Contact us for more information about how we can help you weather a social media storm, or preferably, avoid it in the first place.

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