Melbourne to Twitter: Screw Sydney

Last updated 17:28 12/01/2013

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Twitter executives have been urged to "screw Sydney" and set up shop in Victoria as Melburnians urge the social media giant to ditch the harbour city and head south.

The US-based micro-blogging firm is expected to shortly confirm that it's opening new corporate offices in Sydney - its first ever full-time presence in Australia.

Speaking after a visit to Twitter's San Francisco headquarters, deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop said the move was "imminent".

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

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

Twitter did not immediately confirm the plans, but the move Down Under has been expected for some time.

But soon after the news emerged on Friday, Melburnians launched a charm offensive to woo Twitter's bosses to the bright lights of Victoria's capital city.

It would be perhaps less Silicon Valley, more Silicon Alleys if Twitter performed a surprising U-turn and decided Melbourne, famed for its laneways, was the place to open its new offices.

Pyrmont, in Sydney's inner city, is looking the more likely destination.

Nonetheless, Melburnians were giving it a red-hot go.

"They'll get shot in Sydney or drown in the harbour," one Melbourne-based user wrote.

Another added: "Screw Sydney, set up shop in Melbourne."

Plenty tried to extol the southern city's plus points.

"We're more dynamic, cosmo & genuine"."

One person went for the sexy option: "We are really, really, really, genuinely really goodlooking".

A couple of people started hashtags, and among them, to try and get the topic trending.

MOVE TO CURB ONLINE BULLYING

Twitter's first corporate presence in Australia will help curb the nation's growing online bullying problem, mental health organisation beyondblue says.

Twitter has not had a full-time presence in Australia since launching in 2006 - a source of major frustration for politicians and police who've been inundated with complaints about online bullying.

Any new corporate presence is likely to have a strong commercial motive for Twitter as it attempts to expand worldwide.

But it's also likely to streamline cooperation with authorities, who've previously asked social networking companies to help unmask anonymous online "trolls".

Beyondblue chief executive Kate Carnell said Twitter's move should help fight Australia's online bullying problem.

"Cyber bullying is going to be a major issue for beyondblue over the next 12 months because we're just getting so many more reports," she told AAP.

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"Having a contact point in Australia will help at least with Twitter."

There were several high-profile cases of online bullying in 2012, including rugby league star Robbie Farah who suffered vile abuse about his late mother.

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

"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 told Nine Network last year.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Senator Conroy had been liaising with social media companies for a long time about cyber bullying, trolls and some of the ugly, "very hurtful" comments on those sites.

Gillard said she'd like social media companies to adopt policies that prevent "some of the extremes we have seen that have caused real harm".

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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