Penny Wong asks Julie Bishop: 'Why the red face?'

When Julie Bishop agreed to partake in the “world’s first political interview conducted entirely in emojis” she presumably thought it was just a bit of fun. But now, eight months later, an emoji has come back to bite her.

The foreign minister was served up a series of questions by the website BuzzFeed, which she responded to using the pictorial icons. For example, when asked if she was a cat or dog person, Ms Bishop replied by posting a cat.

Today Labor senator Penny Wong has honed in on one Q&A, pictured below:

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During today’s Senate estimates hearings Ms Wong questioned government officials aboutMS Bishop’s use of the angry, red-faced emoji to describe President Putin.

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She quizzed officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: “I’d like to understand what the diplomatic message is of the red face? Is it intended to suggest the Foreign Minister is angry at President Putin? Or does it express something else?

“What is the statement or public message of the red face? We don’t like him? We’re angry at him?”

After some debate about the issue, Ms Wong said, “If I get this from my younger sister it usually means I’ve done something wrong.”

Senator George Brandis suggested, “It could be a reference to ideology.”

He then commented that the questioning had revealed the “profundity of the Labor Party’s penetration on foreign policy”, reports Fairfax.

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Ms Wong explained her concern about the matter as being one of a trade issue.

“I actually have no issue with the emoji exchange being used to describe whether she is a dog or cat person … or even the spirit animals or images associated with [Tony] Abbott or [Malcolm] Turnbull but it is a different order of things in relation to an expression of our relationship with Russia,” said Ms Wong.

“I don’t understand what the public message is. It may be that the Foreign Minister is angry with him or that she thinks Mr Putin is a red-faced angry man.”

DFAT officials are now required to respond to Ms Wong’s question in writing and have a few weeks to think about their response.

Ms Bishop, of course, replied with a Tweet and the whole issue has been derided on social media.

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Do you think Penny Wong is right to question this use of emojis in reference to an important world player? Should Julie Bishop stay away from the emojis? Or is the whole thing an enormous waste of time and resources?