Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Saturday morning foray into social media has attracted mixed reviews with her hour-long online question and answer session attracting twice as many dislikes as likes.
The experiment prompted criticism from the outset with questions coming only from a panel.
One posted comment suggested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, now residing in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to evade extradition to Sweden, might have liked to quiz the PM.
An hour after it ended, the replay on YouTube had attracted 242 likes and 519 dislikes.
“I don’t understand why she is doing this. No one likes her. How will she benefit from this?” commented one person.
In the online Google+ Hangout session organised by Deakin University and Fairfax media, who selected the questioners, Ms Gillard, appearing from her office by webcam, responded to questions on a variety of topics.
They included education and health policy, the carbon tax, suicide, jobs, defence force superannuation and asylum seekers.
Some would have had the boffins boxed.
“By how much, measured in thousandths of a degree celsius, will the earth’s temperature be reduced through the carbon tax?” was one question.
Ms Gillard said the world on present projections was heading for rising temperatures and she wished she could do something to make a dramatic difference.
“It’s not going to be like that. What the world is actually needing to do together is to moderate the rate of increase,” she said.
Australia’s contribution could best be measured by how many tonnes of carbon dioxide would not be released into the atmosphere and by 2020 that would be 160 million tonnes, she said.
Then there was the gay marriage question, asked by 25-year-old gay man Shane Bazzi. He asked Ms Gillard, an unmarried atheist, to explain her opposition to same-sex marriage.
“Almost equal is not good enough,” he said.
Ms Gillard said heterosexual relationships were not valued more than same-sex relationships.
“My relationship should be valued and I’m not married,” she said, adding that her opposition to gay marriage stemmed from her personal view of the cultural status of marriage.
On a lighter note, Ms Gillard mused on what made her happy.
“I’m happy when I feel like I am achieving things,” she said.
“We can point to achievements in schools and health and jobs and many areas.”
Ms Gillard said in her personal life it was about family and friends.
“Getting to spend some time with Tim, with mates and just doing all the things people usually do when they are trying to wind down a bit,” she said.
Watch the one-hour long session from earlier today below.
PM Julia Gillard’s message to the public.