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Twitter to open Australian offices 'imminently'

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Miles Godfrey

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Senator Stephen Conroy ... would welcome an Australian Twitter presence.

Senator Stephen Conroy ... would welcome an Australian Twitter presence.

Social networking giant Twitter is tipped to "imminently" open its first Australian corporate office as part of plans to help combat cyberbullying and deepen ties with the federal and state governments.

Federal politicians have for months been lobbying the company to launch a full-time presence in Australia and make it easier for police officers to engage with the company.

Speaking after a visit to Twitter's US headquarters on Friday, deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop said she understood the move was "imminent".

"That's what they told us today — they'd be opening an office in Sydney," she said.

"Facebook has a presence in Australia and it's clear Twitter is about to establish one."

Ms Bishop said it was "essential" for social networking companies to deepen ties with Australian governments and authorities.

Twitter did not immediately confirm the move.

A new Australian corporate presence is likely to have a strong commercial motive, with Australians keenly embracing Twitter over the past six years and currently sending about 1.4 million tweets per day.

But it is also likely to ease co-operation on issues such as cyberbullying and online abuse as well as enhancing relationships with all levels of government.

It comes after a series of high-profile cases of cyberbullying, including rugby league star Robbie Farah being abused by a troll on Twitter, and himself trolling Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy branded the company "arrogant" in September after he unsuccessfully tried to contact the company to discuss the Farah case and ways to combat cyberbullying.

"They just believe they don't have to take any notice of the Australian public, any notice of the Australian laws, and they think they can behave this arrogantly," he said last year.

A spokesman for Senator Conroy said on Friday that he would welcome a permanent Twitter presence in Australia.

Twitter has had no full-time offices in Australia since launching in 2006. It launched an official Twitter handle, @TwitterAU, in October 2012.

Senior Twitter executives visited Australia in late 2012 as part of a scoping study, and are reportedly returning to Sydney next week. 

Facebook increased its presence in Australia in 2011, hiring Mia Garlick, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to oversee its local operations.

Google also has corporate offices in Sydney.

AAP

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