The day of the troll: Taste-testing Queensland’s democracy sausage

While campaigning in South Brisbane during the Queensland Election, Dr John Jiggens encountered the nasty side of political trolling.

ELECTION DAY in Queensland this year was 31 October — Halloween. As I prepared to head off to the polling booth for my final bite of the democracy sausage, I wondered what the day would bring. Would it be trick or treat?

As it turned out, it was neither.

Instead, I drew the troll.

I first noticed the troll from a distance as I put out my corflutes with their striking cannabis leaf design at the West End Primary School. He was standing at the entrance to the polling booth where the candidates and their supporters were giving out how-to-vote cards, displaying a large and offensive anti-abortion sign that read ‘abort Trad’.

Queensland only decriminalised abortion in 2018 through the Termination of Pregnancy Bill. Jackie Trad, who was Deputy Premier when the Bill was passed, was unashamedly pro-choice and was an important champion for the Bill. She argued that abortion should be treated as a health issue, not by police and laws, which is a sensible policy for abortion and would be sensible policy for cannabis, too, in my opinion. On the other hand, Brisbane’s Catholic Archbishop, Mark Coleridge, likened the bill to Nazi Germany.

The payback came in the 2020 Election when an anonymous right-to-life group distributed leaflets in the South Brisbane electorate that compared local member Jackie Trad and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to Nazi death camp guards and claimed they rejoiced to see unwanted babies thrown in the garbage bin. These leaflets asked rhetorically: ‘If they murder the children now, the elderly tomorrow, how do you know you will not be next?’

(Image supplied)

These hate-filled trolls also smeared me and my campaign for the legalisation of cannabis. The troll carrying the ‘abort Trad’ sign was wearing a cape with a cannabis leaf on it and he had put another cannabis leaf at the bottom of his poster. Because of the cannabis leaf, many naturally thought he was associated with the H.E.M.P. Party, who have used the cannabis leaf as its symbol in West End for 27 years and with my campaign. Some even thought the troll was me — what a sickening insult.

One man who thought the troll represented the H.E.M.P. Party and was disgusted by the treatment of Jackie Trad was John, a Big Issue seller.

When I informed him that the troll did not represent H.E.M.P., he began pointing at the troll and addressing everyone within earshot:

I mistook this man for a representative of the Cannabis party, which he isn’t. He is also slandering Jackie Trad who is for women’s rights. He has no right to speak on behalf of women’s rights. He’s a man. Do not let him confuse you. If Jackie is pro-women’s rights, I support that. Avoid this man, he is using false and misleading advertising and saying abortion is murder. Bullshit! Abortion is a woman’s right!

I found the situation extremely shameful. It was terrible to see the lovely cannabis leaf so defiled by being associated with this ugly insult to a person so many of the South Brisbane community respect and love, one who has suffered being pilloried over many years by the Murdoch empire, who own all the newspapers in Queensland.

My campaign was grossly defamed by this troll and by the decision of the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) to allow him into the polling grounds at West End Primary.

Queensland Election: South Brisbane and the Murdoch influence

I confronted the troll, but then Jackie Trad, who the troll had positioned himself within eyesight of, came over and asked me quietly to step back. I explained the outrage I felt by his gratuitous misuse of the cannabis leaf to insult her and she replied: “How do you think I feel? I put up with this all the time.”

The troll had also positioned himself in from of a Sky News cameraman, so I realised the optics could turn ugly.

I agreed not to make a scene and decided it would be best if I left. My corflutes displayed a large cannabis leaf and the troll was cowardly sheltering behind the same symbol, so naturally everyone would associate me with this despicable creep and his hateful sign and loathe me.

I decided to find another polling booth and leave West End Primary to the troll, so I picked up my corflutes and walked across the oval. But by the time I reached the gate, I had decided that I could not allow this troll to so dishonour the cannabis leaf. After all, I was a candidate in the Election; I had paid my fee and campaigned over several weeks, whereas this creep was just a troll.

Surely as a candidate, I had my rights. I would go to the ECQ and ask them to explain why they had let this troll loose in the West End school ground.

At the West End office of the ECQ, I spoke to Gaysley Hagan and explained the problem that the troll created for me: he had appropriated the cannabis leaf that has been the symbol of H.E.M.P. in West End since 1993, gratuitously associated it with his vile Jackie Trad trolling and in doing so, associated my candidature with despicable little him.

People hated him, with his top hat and his crude cannabis cape, but most of all for that ugly ‘abort Trad’ sign. The ALP had already complained about that and I wanted to find out why the ECQ had allowed it.

Cannabis is the wild card at the Queensland Election

Ms Hagan was polite and attentive and this is a criticism of the ECQ rules, not her. According to Ms Hagan, under the ECQ’s new sign laws, third parties have equal rights with candidates to display signs. As long as the signs were authorised with a name and an address, they were lawful. All it needed was the troll’s name and address and the words “authorised by”, which it did and they had no objection.

I spoke about how offensive the sign was and Ms Hagan replied: “Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to take any priority this year whether they are offending people.”

My other concern was the gratuitous misuse of the cannabis leaf, the symbol of H.E.M.P., which had disastrous consequences for me as a candidate for South Brisbane because my corflutes, via the cannabis leaf, associated me with the troll. The troll misrepresented me, he misrepresented H.E.M.P. and he dishonoured the symbol. He brought such disgrace to the cannabis leaf that I would not put out my corflutes.

I wanted him removed.

This complaint, too, was dismissed on the grounds that the hemp leaf wasn’t a trademark.

Going home, I consoled myself with the thought that at least Jackie Trad and Labor knew I was offended, too, but that was little consolation and there was no doubt who had won.

It was the day of the troll.

While the Queensland Labor Government was returned with an increased majority, Jackie Trad’s South Brisbane seat went to the Greens’ Amy MacMahon, which was not unexpected. With Jonathan Sri as the local councillor and Amy MacMahon now the state member, the Greens have established a strongpoint in South Brisbane. However, it was the Greens’ only gain, even with the LNP preferencing them over Labor sitting members.

The sub-editors of Murdoch’s Sunday Mail celebrated Trad’s defeat with headlines such as ‘Hit the road, Jack’ and the Shaun Micallef worthy, ‘Voters say they really have Trad enough’. No doubt they will find some other decent human being to beat up.

Congratulations to Amy MacMahon for her victory. Farewell and best wishes to Jackie Trad, Deputy Premier and Treasurer (2015-2020), member for South Brisbane (2012-2020).

This is Dr John Jiggens, courageously taste-testing for your edification the sometimes-disgusting ingredients that constitute Queensland’s democracy sausage.

Dr John Jiggens is a writer and journalist currently working in the community newsroom at Bay-FM in Byron Bay.

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Anthony Seibold ‘troll’ revealed as former part-time referees official in bush football

According to sources with knowledge of their identity, the individual’s connection to the NSWRL was as a part-time refereeing official in regional NSW.

NRL integrity unit investigators have spoken to the person. It is alleged the person forwarded on the rumours about Seibold, rather than instigating them, but their status in the game was so minor the matter was not taken any further by head office.

It was reported on Tuesday by The Australian that the European cybercrime firm Seibold has engaged had provided him with names of more high-profile figures said to have had some part in the rumour-spreading. As of Tuesday afternoon, though, neither Seibold nor his legal team had not passed on any additional names, according to league sources.

Contacted on Tuesday, Seibold said: “The NRL integrity unit have received the report given to my solicitor and [Broncos chairman] Karl Morris a number of weeks ago. I’ve nothing further to add to the matter as it’s been also handed to police.”

NRL sources say there have to date been no registered players or officials among the names given to them by Seibold and in any case are doubtful there is any way to properly get to the bottom of who started the rumours.


It is why there is no active investigation into the Seibold affair at the NRL even though officials feel desperately sorry for what he had to endure in the final months of his tenure at Brisbane, which ended prematurely with the team en route ultimately to a first ever wooden spoon.

It has also emerged that NSW Police is not investigating the Seibold trolling and they are unlikely to, given there was no threat made to the safety of the coach or his family, as distasteful and hurtful as the tales being told about him were. The absence of cyber-bullying legislation in Australia also makes a police response difficult in Seibold’s case, although Queensland Police say they are investigating after a complaint from the 46-year-old.

Seibold told 60 Minutes on Sunday his last couple of months in particular had been “pretty tough”. “In some ways it’s like the wild west out there,” he said. “My situation went viral with defamatory comments. My reputation was ruined in a lot of respects.”

He said he would “like to see some people made accountable.”

The chances, though, of the former Dally M Coach of the Year obtaining the outcome he wants after this sordid affair are fading by the day.

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Facebook axes small Russian troll network ahead of election

Facebook said Tuesday that it removed a small network of accounts and pages linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the “troll factory” that has used social media accounts to sow political discord in the U.S. since the 2016 presidential election

OAKLAND, Calif. — Facebook said Tuesday that it removed a small network of accounts and pages linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the “troll factory” that has used social media accounts to sow political discord in the U.S. since the 2016 presidential election.

The people behind the accounts recruited “unwitting” freelance journalists to post in English and Arabic, mainly targeting left-leaning audiences. Facebook said Tuesday the network’s activity focused on the U.S., U.K., Algeria and Egypt and other English-speaking countries and countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The company said it started investigating the network based on information from the FBI about its off-Facebook activities. The network was in the early stages of development, Facebook added, and saw “nearly no engagement” on Facebook before it was removed. The network consisted of 13 Facebook accounts and two pages. About 14,000 accounts followed one or more of the pages, though the English-language page had a little over 200 followers, Facebook said.

Still, its presence points to ongoing Russian efforts to disrupt the U.S. election and sow political discord in an already divided country. To evade detection, the people behind the network recruited Americans to do their bidding, likely unknowingly, both as journalists and as people authorized to purchase political advertisements in the U.S.

Facebook said the people behind the network posted about global events ranging from racial justice in the U.S. and the U.K., NATO, the QAnon conspiracy, President Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. The network spent about $480 on advertising on Facebook, primarily in U.S. dollars, a sign that it was able to at least briefly evade systems designed to prevent foreign entities from buying U.S. political advertisements.

Separately, Twitter said Tuesday it will start adding context to its trending section, which shows some of the most popular topics on the service at any given moment. Experts and even Twitter’s own employees have expressed concerns that the trending section can be gamed to spread misinformation and abuse.

Twitter uses algorithms and human employees to determine what topics are trending — it is not simply the most popular topics, but topics that are newly popular at any given time. But it’s not difficult to artificially elevate trends.

In the coming weeks, Twitter said, users in the U.S., U.K., Brazil, India and several other countries will see brief descriptions added to some trends to add context.

“To be clear, we know there is more work to do to improve trends and the context updates we’re announcing today are just a small step in the right direction,” said Liz Lee, a product trust partner and Frank Oppong, a product manager, in a blog post. “We need to make trends better and we will.”

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Cam Smith’s cheeky troll in Raiders sin bin double blow against Storm

A Canberra Raiders sin bin drama has been compounded by a seemingly serious injury to Josh Hodgson against the Melbourne Storm.

The Storm took a 12-6 lead to the break but Melbourne’s second try came in controversial circumstances after a Bunker call that’s been heavily slammed.

But the luck was really not going the Raiders’ way with a key second half Elliott Whitehead try denied in a knock on as the Storm hung on for a 20-14 win.

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After trading tries early, the Storm were attacking the Raiders’ line when the drama stuck.

The Storm shifted left and in a nightmare situation, hooker Josh Hodgson went down with a knee injury to which the medical officer on watch reportedly said “poor bugger”.

It’s feared it was his ACL.

While the opposite knee to serious ACL injury he suffered in 2017, the worst is feared for the Canberra superstar.

But as the ball went out wide and was grubbered in by Ryley Jacks, Raiders winger Bayley Simonsson turned and went for the ball, but Josh Addo-Carr ran in with Andrew Voss immediately saying he was “tackled” without the ball.

Greg Alexander said “I thought he made a lunge for the footy and Addo-Carr’s run into Simonsson,” he said.

The Bunker official saw it differently.

“Bayley Simonsson has played the man ahead of the ball,” Bunker official Ben Galea said.

“That’s a bad call,” Alexander said before the professional foul and sin bin was awarded. “No it’s not.

“He doesn’t even know Addo-Carr is there. He’s not even looking at Addo-Carr — that’s a bad call.”

Cooper Cronk added: “I can’t agree. There’s no doubt that Simonsson is playing the ball and the contact of the bodies are coming together.”

Michael Ennis called the decision “ridiculous” at halftime.

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart was far from happy by the call, particularly when Hodgson is also seemingly gone for some time.

But post-match, Gorden Tallis tried to bait Storm skipper Cameron Smith, calling him the “greatest referee for the past 17 or 18 years” and asked for his take on the sin bin.

Smith said: “I would have been happy for him to stay on the field actually and just get the penalty try”.

The Storm then exploited the overlap with Addo-Carr scoring in the next set to a chorus of boos from the home side.

Fans weren’t happy with the call however and slammed the Bunker.

The second half was blown open for the Storm when Ryan Papenhuyzen ran the length of the field to score to open up a 20-6 lead.

The Raiders are never a team to give up and scored two tries to make it close but ran out of time to get over the line in the six point loss.

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