Newspoll: 58-42 to Labor in Victoria

Newspoll yesterday released its bi-monthly survey of Victorian state voting intention, in which a 1 per cent primary vote shift from the Coalition (down to 36 per cent) to Labor (up to 44 per cent) somehow translated into a two-party swing from 56-44 to 58-42. Both leaders have gone backwards on personal approval: John Brumby’s satisfaction rating is down 1 per cent to 46 per cent and his dissatisfaction is up 3 per cent to 35 per cent, while Ted Baillieu’s satisfaction rating is down 3 per cent to 35 per cent and his dissatisfaction is steady on 36 per cent. Brumby’s lead as preferred premier has widened from 48-25 to 49-23.

Hat tip to Stringa in comments.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

63 comments on “Newspoll: 58-42 to Labor in Victoria”

Comments Page 1 of 2
1 2
  1. This poll result shows all the fuss about the north-south pipeline is having no impact on the electorate. Most people in Melbourne, Ballarat and Bendigo (who’ll benefit ffom it) like the idea.

    The State Budget is going down pretty well (apart from the lack of spending on Melbourne public transport) and I suspect the teachers’ pay rise will help the Government too (even though Baillieu suggested it first).

    The Victorian Liberals have their act a bit more together than some of their interstate counterparts, but this poll just shows it’s a Labor era at the moment. It will stay that way in Victoria, provided hospital queues, don’t lengthen, housing prices stay stable and rents stop rising. Some of the Budget measures at least show Brumby is aware of some of the housing issues.

    There’s little in this poll to suggest any dissatisfaction with the brumby Government will be a factor in the gippsland by-election.

  2. Interesting to note that even after the revival of the coalition, industrial disputes, anger at desalination and north-south pipeline and a few other touch subjects, they can’t lay a glove on Brumby.

  3. The local Federal pollies – Sharman Stone, Mirabella and Fran Bailey – all centred their Federal campaigns around opposing the North South pipeline.

    All of these seats had an above average swing to Labor (well above both State and rural swings).

    Although there was definitely an impact at some booths, this result did raise the following questions –

    1. Were these pollies heading for even bigger swings against them and their focus on the evils of labor govts as encapsulated by the n-s pipeline save them from an even more humiliating backlash?

    2. Did people realise that this was a state issue and thus it did not affect their vote in anyway?


    3. Did the locals actually think the n-s pipeline was a good idea and voted to support it?

  4. ALP primary is low. Greens is high. Libs/Nats is respectable.

    This is a poll which shows Victorians are withholding their judgement. They aint too sure about Brumby but have not been comvinced by the Libs.

    Labor has to be favoured at the next election, but to say it is a foregone conclusion is far too much.

  5. Labor has to be favoured at the next election, but to say it is a foregone conclusion is far too much.

    Labor has such a huge majority here that it may be a two-election task.
    Interesting point about the Greens. Just about every public servant in Victoria must have some greivance against the Government at this point – police, nurses, teachers, and disability services workers have all had recent industrial action. This could point to some of these people voting Greens or independents.
    One of the strengths of the Brumby government is that, unlike some of their northern neighbours, they factor damage control and spin into every decision from the very beginning, rather than do things in Iemma’s bumbling style, and try to put a nice face on things once they’ve gone awry. Brumby runs a very secretive government, in my opinion.

  6. The Victorian Liberals may as well back up and go home. The’ve been in opposition for nearly a decade, have hardly made up any ground and as far as I can remember haven’t even lead in an opinion poll. Pathetic.

  7. Good numbers for the Greens (12%).

    Probably partly due to seeeming Brumby being more arrogant than Bracks.

    If only an election was held now.

  8. Baillieu isn’t a right wing nutter, doesn’t sniff chairs and has some brains. His problem is Brumby is also competent. At the moment Victoria is very lucky.

    Mind you the Liberal party being what it is at the moment will probable dump Baillieu and put in some right wing chair sniffing nutter as their leader.

  9. agree with charles, although the Vic government has failed to manage the population surge in melb since 1999. The libs may have a case at the next election, arguing that it will fix the housing/public transport crisis. Baillieu has to promise big investments to address these issues. If the A.L.P wont go into debt in order to actually manage the population surge, then perhaps the libs will.

  10. To be fair, the population surge was totally unexpected – for years the figures had run the other way – and regional Victoria is growing faster than Melbourne and has done so for some years.

    If the population surge was only in Melbourne, it could be argued that the government should have decentralised more – the fact that it’s higher in the regions removes this safety valve.

    The population growth in the regions has created/exacerbated other problems (access to services, for example) and the drought hasn’t helped, with some regional towns having to truck in water and others on severe restrictions – scarcely a good time to encourage even higher populations.

    Exactly what can be done about it, short of closing down the border, in the relatively short time frame it’s occured?

    I think you’ll find the Libs will squib this one, simply because there aren’t any simple answers and certainly no cheap ones.

  11. zoom, got to disagree with a few things there.

    the population growth was unexpected in 1999 but by 2002 the trend was obvious, particularly with the flow of immigrants into the country.

    I was under the impression that melb has been rapidly outstripping regional victoria in pop growth since the early 90’s. It was in the 70’s and 80’s when the regions were growing faster.

    what can be done about it? how about high density residential projects in inner/middle melb that they identified in the 2030 report but did little to implement. remember they dont want to get into debt so they did little.

    I think the libs can make a good case at the next election. But Baillieu has to argue the point about a ‘do nothing’ government, not with ‘major projects’ but with the basics. Baillieu is not socially conservative so Victoria can deal with him.

    But if these polls keep coming it means people are not yet angry at the lack of action. Maybe when enough people cant fit into a tram or train it will turn.

  12. My gut tells me that this is a steady as she goes budget, with 2009 to have some goodies, followed by a splurge in 2010. Brumby is too smart for Baillieu and i think they are privately concerned about this poll.

  13. Brumby leads Ballieau not because of good policies but because of an economy which is doing okay. Ballieau is not the man for the job he cannot get his message across and he has no policies.
    The budget was a nothing budget, a visionless statement with an increase in debt which i have no probs with if it was spent in things which were going to be important, other than new trains the water infrastructure is a waste.
    The north south pipeline is bad policy and a waste of money. Yep lets build a pipeline and get water from Eildon which is at 14 percent of capacity and a river which is dieing. Does the Victorian government understand that the Murray in South Australia is becoming extremely toxic and may soon unless massive flows of water occur have significant affects on Adelaides’ water supplies. And as the flows decrease and the toxic minerals from the soil rise their will no turning back because once it happens you will not be able to save it.
    The budget was also about handouts to big business, meanwhile people in the north and west of Melbourne continue to rely on cars to travel meaning more greenhouse gases and costs to their incomes due to high petrol prices.
    Sorry but both parties in Victoria have no vision other than getting elected and gaining taxpayer paid superannuations and large wages for themselves.

  14. Nath, regional Victoria has been growing faster than Melbourne for some years now.

    (A really quick google brought up this, from ‘The Age’ Feb 28 2007: ‘The rest of Victoria grew even faster than Melbourne, partly because the city’s growth is breaching its boundaries, but also due to rapid growth in areas as diverse as Horsham, East Gippsland, Ballarat, Bendigo and (especially) the Surf Coast.’)

    I agree with you totally about the need for high density residential development, but surely all the Government can do is put the necessary planning controls in place (which they have) – it is up to developers to build the things, and they obviously don’t want to.

    re north south pipeline. Any water for Melbourne would come from savings made due to reduction of water losses from the present inefficient irrigation system. Other water saved in this way will be dedicated to environmental flows – so more water, not less, will go down the rivers.
    If the works had already been done, Lake Eildon would in fact have more water in it than it does at present (due to water ‘saved’).
    As it is, there isn’t any water to flush down to SA, and the N-S pipeline – having not been built yet – is totally irrelevant to the present situation.
    Anyway, the point I was making was its electoral impact (or lack of) rather than whether or not the project is a good idea or not.
    (For the record, I don’t know whether it is…I have just not come across a REAL reason why it shouldn’t happen, and I’ve extensively researched the issue).

  15. Nath people will only be getting angry and very angry when the economy falls apart in Australia. This will happen soon and when it does it will be horrific. Debt levels are out of control and surging, at massive mounts of GDP much higher than the 1930’s depression. It will be a train wreck, full train carriages don’t change votes but depressed economies do. And why because governments do not own or do anything now. They encourage debt and are fuelling a terrible economic collapse.
    And look what Labor wants to do in New South Wales for short term gain are these for real? Time the Unions disaffliated from the Labor Party and went elsewhere, they are being used. Meanwhile working people pay for it and the rich gain.
    And the unions want to compromise they should not back down, as the question what happens when the money runs out. Sorry these people are only interested in getting elected and doing nothing.

  16. Their is no electoral impact from the pipeline, i agree. But again it is a waste of money. The government is gambling on savings in flows from irrigation as you say and this i doubt will result in an increase in water flowing.
    And if we are taking water from the area where will the Murray get water to help the situation in South Australia.
    Here is what Kenneth Davidson in Todays Age says

    ” their is widespread believe among irrigation experts that the water saved will be illusory. It is water that has been oversupplied due to faulty measuring equipment or water that has leaked into the soil from irrigation channels that finds its way into the Murray as part of environmental flows that will be lost if the channels are refurbished”
    He goes on to say that the water projects which i tend to agree are about private public partnerships and ownership of by overseas interests (the same as New South Wales electricity i bet) and as a result the Victorian Government will need to recoup the massive costs of buiding the infrastructure through higher prices and debt.
    Ken asks why can’t we stop logging the catchments and introduce stormwater harvesting but we cannot because we need to continue to have people paying for water and to have foreign multinationals running our infrastructure. Essentially it is about attracting the corporate vote and keeping them quite hence making sure the people who run the State of Victoria high finance and the wealthy set are happy with Labor- simple, good policy goes out the window.

  17. Nath (10) are you Victorian? If not I can understand your misunderstanding as to the actualpolitical situation re government spending. The government has in fact gone into very manageable debt in order to imorove infrastructure, housing/public transport. They have purchased new trains and have taken measures to help with the housing crisis. Guess who is criticising them for daring to spend money on these things? Yep, you guessed it.

  18. “We are going into debt to pay for these things” is the cry. Don’t wait around for Big Ted to be promising to fix these problems, he’s too frightened to spend the money needed to make a difference. Hell, anything but go into debt.

  19. 18 marky – Of course if Kenneth Davidson says so it must be so. now if you can actually provide the proof I may agree with you.

  20. marky marky

    I live in the country so I come across this “the cities are taking from the country” argument a lot. The simple fact of the matter is we have been through a very serious drought ( which I am not convinced is broken), so serious that there was a real risk the cities would run out of water. Under such circumstances you save the cities. Without the cities the county is nothing, the cities supply the critical infrastructure. If the north/south pipelines saves Melbourne but lets the irrigation areas hang out to dry then so be it, it’s going to cost a lot less to recover the irrigation areas than it is to rebuild a city.

    I think both the South Australian and Victorian Government have done a pretty good job of keeping ahead of the problem. What has pissed me off is the people that continually complain and don’t seem to have the ability to see past there own back yard.

    And as for Kenneth Davidson little windge; he lost me when he claimed that fresh water would be pumped back into the sea. It was just a sad sad case of looking for the worse in everything. I hope we get back to a state where our storages are full, but for a government to base out future on that hope would be the height of incompetency.

  21. Zoom @ 16 –
    Any water for Melbourne would come from savings made due to reduction of water losses from the present inefficient irrigation system. Other water saved in this way will be dedicated to environmental flows – so more water, not less, will go down the rivers.

    I’ve heard 3 or 4 experts talk about this in different forums in the last week and all are of the view that the claimed saving from lining or piping the current open/porous water channels aren’t going to eventuate because most of the water currently lost finds it way back to the rivers anyway.

    Mind you they seem to think that most of the $13 billion promised for the Murray/Darling is a waste of money and effort. The only way to fix the problems is to wipe the slate clean on license allocations and start again with new allocations not for fixed quantities of water but percentages of what is available on a season by season basis. But at is probably way too hard politically ATM. It’ll have to wait until the situation really becomes desperate.

    The potential for much of the southern Murray system to be turned toxic by soil acidification releasing metals and poisons locked up in the dry floodplains is a potential nightmare for those of us that are totally reliant on water direct from the Murray. My understanding is that the current filtration plants aren’t able to remove most of it.

  22. and all are of the view that the claimed saving from lining or piping the current open/porous water channels aren’t going to eventuate because most of the water currently lost finds it way back to the rivers anyway.

    And if you an engineer ( which I jam) and you hear crap like this you just left shaking your head. Expert be dammed, more like twits pushing some agenda.

    The entire mallee is loaded with salt, any water that makes it back to the Murray river is loaded with the stuff; thats why at wakerie they have goundwater pumps to divert the water returning from irrigation to what is now a salt water lake.

    The plans where made by people who have studies the problem and though about it, what amazes me is people listen to these self proclaimed exerts the pop up whenever anything is to be attempted to fix the mess.

    I suppose their solution is for all irrigation to stop and for us to start living on fresh air and water.

  23. Gary Bruce- spokesman for the Labor Party. The blogger who blogs for Labor.
    I do not agree with everything he says but he is right the corporate set runs Victoria, and they will decide policy. That is why our transport is in a mess, no rich people go by public transport. And on water it is the same. Anyway always good to attack the man ( Ken Davidson, especially when he comes with a view which attacks big finance which runs Victoria).
    Mayo Feral you are spot on, the spending on water is a waste, our governments have no idea and realistically do not care.
    Charles how about policies which fix things instead of creating more problems or helping a vested group of individuals. Yep who cares about the country, lets just make it fall apart and become a mess.. After watching Catalyst on the Abc i saw a Murray in crisis a great advertisement for people coming from overseas and for our future biodiversity.
    And debt i have no problem with it at all pity the Labor Party did not think the same, look at New South Wales can’t borrow money to do things but instead must sell its power industry to spend some money pathetic.
    And the Federal Labor Party i doubt it will borrow any money, what is wrong with government bonds?
    Although Nelson is a dud i do agree with him on one thing, Rudd and his team are operating like Howard in 1996 spinning a bogy like Beazleys’ black hole to cut jobs and services- and this is a Labor government, are they for real…

  24. 26 marky – with friends like you Labor doesn’t need enemies. Don’t forget you are the Labor member, I’m not. Now that proof, or are you just interested in character assassination? Kenneth Davidson is not proof. He is a journalist for heaven sake.

  25. Charles @ 25 – I suspect people like Mike Young know a bit more about it than you may.

    Sealing the channels will have benefits such as reducing salt loads, as you point out, but providing large quantities of ‘new’ water that can be allocated to the rivers or for new irrigation projects isn’t one of them. Whether laden with salt from percolating underground back to the rivers from porous channels, or saved by the lined/piped channels, it is still essentially the same quantity of water.

    To actually ‘save’ water the Victorians need to change their end use methods from wasteful overhead sprinkler and flood irrigation to drippers wherever possible, just as SA farmers have done at their own cost – with a little help from the state and virtually none from the previous federal government. Drippers place the water when it does the most good while minimising evaporation which is the big killer with the older irrigation methods.

  26. Marky we do agree on borrowing money to do the things needed however, as you may have gathered from my comments at 22. Your general criticism of Labor in this regard doesn’t apply to Labor in Victoria.

  27. The amount of borrowing they are undertaking in Victoria is chickenfeed.
    And regarding current operating budgetary levels the government is significantly in surplus, so i would suggest that like anywhere else they are frightened of borrowing money.
    Yes Ken is a journalist and yes he does state things that are far fetched at times, but the he is right regarding what is actually pushing or deciding overall Victorias’ direction and that is certain vested interests- public private partnerships and yes whether they can be proven as economically prudent way of doing things is an unknown but why, simply because the Victorian State Labor Government likes to hide things in commerical in confidence, so one must assume that public private partnerships have problems..
    Moreover if you want prove of the water programs being uncosted possible disasters how about asking our Auditor General in Victoria who has stated that the water programs were uncosted and were done without a great amount of research or thought.. So Gary what proof does the Victorian Government have that these projects will do things… I think they will be flops but we will neve know because the governments hires so many spin doctors to cover up things….

  28. I agree with Charles, it’s frustrating to hear fallacious arguments dressed up as ‘expert opinion’.

    A quick lesson on water: in winter and late spring, water for irrigation is captured and stored in dams. It is then released as required during the summer for irrigation purposes.

    To get water from the dam (which necessarily is upstream of wherever you’re irrigating, and sometimes quite a long way upstream) to the farm, it needs to be released, usually back into the river. It is then either pumped directly onto the farm land which holds the necessary license, or diverted into a channel or series of channels from the river until it reaches the designated farm.

    Now, water is lost on the way (naturally) through seepage (water going underground) or evaporation (water going up into the air). This water is NOT lost to the natural cycle – of course not – it either makes its way underground, either becoming part of the water table or rejoining the river, or it goes up into the sky and falls somewhere as rain. It is, however, ‘lost’ to the irrigation system.

    The losses mean that for the farmer to get his allocated water, more water than he requires or has paid for needs to be released from the dam upstream.

    So I need 1 gig of water, for example. I live a long way down the Murray, and my water comes from a series of channels, perhaps travelling several hundred kilometres from the source. Because of evaporation and leakage, 3 gig of water needs to be released from the dam, just to ensure that I get the 1 gig.

    So, potentially, 2 gig could be ‘saved’, which would be better both for the river and for the irrigators (there being more water ‘available’).

    This is what we’re talking about when we’re talking about upgrades to the irrigation system resulting in water savings – less evaporation (more pipes) and less leakage (lining channels) means that less water needs to be released from the storages.

    Thus, water savings would mean more water in Lake Eildon.

    A couple of more bits of info which might be useful in understanding these issues –

    i. irrigation water is usually separate from town water supplies;
    ii. towns use far less water than farms;
    iii. industry uses far less water than farms, and more productively;
    iv. water for irrigation is very very cheap compared to water for human consumption – my water bill is just over $100 a year, and I get over 12 meg(12,000 kl) for that.
    The average Melbourne household pays $500 for 190 kl.

    MayoFeral, it would be nice to wipe the slate clean, but that will cost far more than $13 billion. Water licenses are owned by people; they are an asset, which is worth money. To buy mine off me, you would have to start talking figures of at least $5000 per meg…and we’re talking of a system which issues licenses for 3000 gig (3 million mg) for Victoria alone.
    You can’t simply take it off people without compensation; compensation means market value.

  29. And, ahem – Victorian farmers are usually regarded as the most efficient users of water in Australia. SA, NSW and QLD have not done the heavy lifting required when it comes to water planning, Victoria has. Even Howard recognised this – his speech on the National Water Initiative repeatedly criticises the other states for their inefficient use of water. Victoria is not mentioned.

    That is part of the reason Vic took so long to sign up – we were not going to benefit because we’d already done the work. NSW, SA and QLD were because they hadn’t.

  30. cityblue at 4, are you sure youre not Glen? Or Dennis Shanahan? To call 58/42 as the voters withholding their judgement is about as stupid as it gets

  31. MayoFeral

    The amount of water that evaporates increases with the exposed surface area, channels increase the surface area by a considerable amount.

    Most of the water lost into the ground goes into supersaturating the soil around the channel, this is lost when the channel stops flowing.

    I don’t care who claims most of it is lost to ground water flows into salty soils, that magically shows up in the river as fresh water, it’s nonsense of the first order.

    The flows into these systems and out of have been measured since creation, I note with interest that these self claimed experts claim the measuring devises are faulty; more rubbish.

    What I don’t understand is why these people carry on with this nonsense.

  32. zoom @ 35 – SA has piped all, repeat all, its channels, starting back in the 1960s and mostly paid for by the irrigators with only minimal government input. Its a rare farmer who doesn’t use drippers or subsurface trickle irrigation. Furrow and flood irrigation went the way of the dodo long ago.

  33. You’re spot on Mayoferal (and charles) regarding the channels. In fact just yesterday I was speaking to a colleague of mine whose family are Riverland citrus growers, and that was one of her big groans. Basically, the use of channels by the victorian irrigators is appalling and the people in the Riverland have had a gutful of it.

  34. A good sign for Labor’s prospects in the Gippsland Byelection?
    I guess it depends on how harsh Swan’s budget is next week

  35. MayoFeral @ 38-

    This page contains a table showing water use per hectare over a 5 year period. Victorian farmers use (per hectare) less than half the water of SA farmers.

    We may be both right – it depends on your definition of ‘efficiency’ (for example, SA farmers may value add to the water twice as much as Victorians).

    However, I would also point out that these figures are very pertinent, given the earlier comments I made. SA farmers are a lot further from the water sources than Victorian farmers. Thus, they would need to be at least twice as efficient than their upstream equivalents to compensate for the amount of water lost en route from Victoria (which supplies well over 40% of the water in the system).

    It doesn’t matter how efficient the water use is when you get the water there if you’ve already lost twice as much along the way.

  36. zoom @ 33 –
    So I need 1 gig of water, for example. I live a long way down the Murray, and my water comes from a series of channels, perhaps travelling several hundred kilometres from the source. Because of evaporation and leakage, 3 gig of water needs to be released from the dam, just to ensure that I get the 1 gig.

    So, potentially, 2 gig could be ’saved’,

    No, you don’t save 2 gig. That is the fallacy that then produces this dangerous statement:

    which would be better both for the river and for the irrigators (there being more water ‘available’).

    That is the point that produces so much despair in the experts you believe are fools.

    Most of that 2 gig, not all, but a very high percentage, ends up back in the rivers. If you plug the leaks this is ‘lost’ to them and to compensate you’ll have to release almost all of the 2 gigs to maintain the status quo. Now that, as charles states, may be better for the rivers’ health, but that is a different argument.

    But the only saving you could use in extra irrigation is the relative small amount lost to evaporation, and even some of that ends up falling as rain in the upper catchments of the Murray. However, the experts point out that you’d save a hell of a lot more water if the billions spent on reducing channel leaks was used instead for efficient application technology on farm.

    There is also the not insignificant problem that currently some of the ‘lost’ water is being returned to the Murray and Darling via waterways that won’t otherwise get any from the main irrigation storages. Some streams that flow now with leakage water will end up being much dryer for much of the time.

  37. Marky – “The amount of borrowing they are undertaking in Victoria is chickenfeed.
    And regarding current operating budgetary levels the government is significantly in surplus, so I would suggest that like anywhere else they are frightened of borrowing money.”
    Let’s assume you are correct for argument sake, the fact is we, the voters, are responsible for this situation. The Libs have made a virtue of keeping the budget in surplus and keeping the state debt free. You just have to listen to them bleat after this state budget. Given Victoria’s history what you propose (ie go into massive debt) is political suicide for that reason.
    Once again I applaud your ideals but your lack of fundamental political reality is again on show for all to see. Instead of taking small steps you want to take one giant step and end up in the political wildnerness for a very long time. In the meantime you’ve offered the very party against everything you stand for the keys to the city. Not a smart move surely.
    I would argue this government is going in the right direction, a direction the other mob would travel in a fit. Take your pick, small steps in the right direction or large steps in the opposite direction.

  38. That should read – “I would argue this government is going in the right direction, a direction the other mob would NOT travel in a fit.”

  39. I actually think we might be better spending those billions on moving farmers out of inefficient irrigation districts and back up towards the heads of catchments.

    Despite the drought, I used very little of my allocated water. (In retrospect, I wish I’d spent a bit of it irrigating my small pasturage, but that’s another story). My fruit trees have not been irrigated for over two years now. Despite record low rainfalls, I had one of the best fruit crops ever.

    This is because we’re on river flats – once the trees get their roots into the water table, they don’t need watering to survive.

    The problem with permanent plantings in irrigated districts is that in times of low or no water allocations they simply die. Such plantings would at least have a chance of survival if they were higher up in the catchment.

    Mayo, I did have qualifiers around the words ‘savings’ and ‘available’ for those very reasons – I do recognise that some of the water finds its way back, one way or another, and that not all of the 2 gig is ‘wasted’.

    However, there are savings to be made. Not all leachate goes where we want it to, and not all evaporated water finds its way back to the upstream catchments.

    I am deliberately simplifying in an effort to try and make people understand the issues. It’s all incredibly complex and I don’t believe anyone truly has their head around all of it at present (certainly not me).

    But I would maintain there is a lot of tosh talked by ‘experts’ and that many of them demonstrate a poor understanding of the system and its requirements.

  40. Great to see some intelligent debate on irrigation and water usage. It’s a hugely important issue. I think Zoom has made the best points, but there aren’t obvious answers, and plenty of room for discussion.

    It’s important to note that, as well as a pipeline to Melbourne, the cities of Bendigo and Ballarat (plus towns of Castlemaine and Daylesford, and others) will benefit from another north-south pipeline. These are growth areas, with commuters to melbourne, and potential to ease some of Melbourne’s urban sprawl by taking more residents from the city. Their water supplies (or lack of) are what’s holding them back. I can’t see Ballarat or Bendigo (which traditionally have been chockers with marginal seats, both state and federal) opposing the Brumby Government’s water plans.

    And the fact remains that there are many irrigators, using much more water than Australia can afford, who aren’t efficient, and who rely on dirt cheap water, drought aid etc to keep in business. Either irrigation water needs to be made more expensive (which will force many farmers off the land) or inefficient irrigators should be asssisted compassionately off the land wwith federal funding. The latter is far preferable.

  41. I’ll jump in on the water discussion.
    Like zoom I’m an irrigator, but I’m in SA.
    I agree with everybody here and also disagree with all, a bit of selective agreeing.
    Firstly ALL states have terribly, terribly inefficient water systems along the Murray.
    Drive , as I have done frequently, past the vineyards whatever around Mildura or Berri or the Hay plains and you will see millions of litres sprayed uselessly into the air on stinking hot windy summer days or sitting evaporating in open channels. There is still an appallingly large amount of spray irrigation along the Murray.
    Similarly open channel, I was driving among the irrigated dairy flats around Murray Bridge last week and there were open channels and sprays everywhere and, to put it bluntly, tonnes of cow shit within metres of the river.

    Basically we should have an iron rule along MOST of the Murray.
    If it can’t be grown by drip irrigation it can’t be grown.

    Water loss by ‘leaking”.
    Not as bad as claimed by some and not as good as claimed by others.
    But basically irrelevant.
    Because its been an issue for yonks, 20 years at least to my knowledge. And if a farmer/irrigator has leaky pipes whatever thats his/her problem.

    The REAL problem is that too much water is being taken out of the river.

    The allocated outgo via irrigation licences etc exceeds the inflow.

    Simple arithmetic.
    29 in, 37 out [put the real numbers in there if you can find them, they tend to get lost in a maze of reports] equals a dying river and long term problems [maybe immediate if we don’t get super rains in the next few years].
    Simple answer.
    Decrease the amount taken out of the river.
    By lots. HUGE amounts. A 1000 gig at least [for the uninitiated thats 1,000,000,000,000 litres or one million million litres] every year. Probably lots more.
    Thats why the leaky infrastructure bit is irrelevant. People have ignored it for decades, it depends on hundreds of individuals who have no real incentive to fix their systems and the savings is really anybody’s guess [the Howard Coalition water plan writers made their numbers up as they went along, there was no real research backing most of their assertions, it was a election document only, worthless], it will take years beore the arguing stops and progress is made, its a part answer for the long term but not for the immediate which is the time span we should be looking at.
    The Coorong and Lakes Alexandrina and Albert will probably die before Xmas this year. The Lakes will be dry for the first time in about 8,000 years.
    If not by then, soon after.
    Unless they receive a 1000 gig EXTRA before Xmas and every year after.

    So somebody has to go without water, lots of it, soon, or we will be literally in deep shit cos the river will continue to dry, irrigators will find themselves without useable water, Adelaide’s water will be less potable than it already is and about 2 million people plus in 3 states will be in strife regarding their water supply.
    And the people who use the water are the irrigators.
    There is a place opposite me that uses, even in drought, 2,000,000,000 litres a year. Just one place. That’s about 10,000 average city households.
    In SA, in ‘normal’ years, irrigators use about 2-3 times the entire water usage [including from reservoirs etc] of the million or so people in Adelaide. About 500 gig cf 25o gig for the city and rural SA. That was from memory hang on I’ll get the precise numbers for the last drought year[s]. Here we go:

    Dry years 2002-3 Adelaide water from Murray 204 GL
    2001-2 Irrigation in SA from Murray 494 GL
    2002-3 ” ” 490 GL!OpenDocument
    In ‘normal’ years the disparity is greater.
    See the problem?
    And the answer?

    We have to drastically, compulsorily, immediately reduce the amount of Murray water used by irrigators.

    Throw money at them, whatever, just do it.

  42. fred
    agree with the hard nosed attitude but am regularly innundated with emails and phone calls as it is from people in the Sunraysia district telling me that the world’s going to end because the irrigators are getting no water.

    I’m amazed at the sense of entitlement coupled with the simple belief that there’s water there for the having but the wicked Labor government is hiding it somewhere.

    A little bit more on water loss – this is actually measurable to some extent. My ignorance is vast here, but I do know that our local water storage supplies town water to a regional centre about 60 k away by river. It takes at least two days for the water released from the dam to arrive.

    Every now and again they put in a ‘big’ order, the water is released and it doesn’t get there (pinched by irrigators on its way down).

    They are able to tell very accurately how much of the water which was released actually made it to the town’s water treatment plant.

    So when I talk about water being released being lost on its way to its destination, this is something which can be and is measured.

    It doesn’t matter what happens to the water lost – whether it is used by another farmer, burbles down into the underground storages, eventually returns to the river, is evaporated or whatever – the problem is that to supply a farmer at the end of the system with the one gig he’s ordered, 3 gig must be released.

    BTW, we’re not talking about on farm losses, fred – as I said earlier, the issue here isn’t so much what happens when it reaches the farm, but how much is lost along the way.

    And another little snippet of information which might be useful – because water is released to supply a specified demand, a certain amount of water must be released across a 24 hour period. If it all was released to arrive at night (to enable more efficient water use) the river system couldn’t cope – you would have water levels fluctuating from flood to a trickle from hour to hour. Thus farmers are placed on a roster and must withdraw water from the system at specified times, which allows the water to be released at a more river friendly rate.

    As it is, my local river can go up overnight by as much as a metre without warning.

  43. fred @ 48 –

    And the sad thing is that thanks to good rains in Queensland the Cuddy stations have been able to fill their bigger than Sydney harbour dams with water to irrigate their cotton while everyone down stream of around the Menindee Lakes will miss out.

    So short lived cotton plants will thrive while long lived, slow to establish fruit trees and vineyards will wither, the rivers turn to stagnant pools and the dry flood plains and lakes turn, possibly irreparably, toxic.

    BTW-the Murray-Darling Commission has just announced that the chances of good rains this winter in the catchment are not good and it expects the system to be in an even worse state come the spring that it was last year. It is going to be a long, hot, and very, very dry summer! 🙁

Comments are closed.

Comments Page 1 of 2
1 2