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Backlash as PM makes hash of cash

IT PROBABLY seemed like a good idea at the time. Given Twitter's restrictive 140-character messaging capability, a short hashtag for government MPs to use was apt.

But yesterday's #cashforyou, tweeted from the Prime Minister's account and by ministers and other backbenchers, failed to win over the very audience it was designed to attract - the Twittersphere.

''Talking to parents & students about the Schoolkids Bonus at Marrickville West Public School #cashforyou. -Team JG'' read the tweet from @JuliaGillard.

#Cashforyou, used to promote the government's Schoolkids Bonus, which was launched yesterday, was savaged and sent up within an hour of Ms Gillard's staff sending the first tweet. A hashtag - where a hash symbol is placed before a word or phrase - allows all users to find tweets where the tag is used.

''It's so exciting that Julia has #cashforyou if only the public had votes for her,'' tweeted one user.

The use of the hashtag prompted angry responses from many users, some of whom likened the slogan to bribery. #Cashforyou was a top trending topic in Australia for much of the day.

Employment Participation Minister Kate Ellis later made light of the backlash, tweeting: ''I guess at least it gives Lara Bingle and Delta [Goodrem] a day off when twitter can all laugh at us instead. :-)''

Kristen Boschma, head of digital and social media at marketing and communications company Haystac, said the response may not be all bad. ''Yes, it's embarrassing … but … we're all talking about the fact that these subsidies are being given out,'' she said.