Essential Research: 58-42

Essential Research’s latest weekly survey features questions on refugees, climate change and the Olympics, along with the finding that federal Labor holds a 58-42 lead over the Coalition. Read all about it.

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.

389 comments on “Essential Research: 58-42”

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  1. Diogenes @ 339 thank you.

    Good to hear that they are going for a balance between social, economic and environmental flows. Being at the cloaca end of the MDB certainly sharpens the senses!

    The pollies having waited until there is bugger-all water in the system it is basically crisis management time. This means that none of the immediate options are good. Some may merely be less bad than others. It is also an absolute certainty that the pie is small enough to ensure that significant sectors will miss out. Meanwhile, record low inflows in May and not much better in June are in the nature of an evil omen for irrigators. Not looking too good at all.

    The bit about Rann is difficult to understand. If he wanted to go Federal he would still need some sort of popular support base to get voted in. If so, how does appearing to sell out ensure that you maintain a popular support base in SA?

  2. Boerwar

    When I said Federal, I should have said Federal Labor President and whatever other high profile Fed jobs are going. He certainly doesn’t want a Federal seat, he wants something long-term behind the scenes.

    Maywald is suffering acutely because her favourite excuse is no longer working. She loves the phrase “The Government can’t make it rain.” That worked quite well in summer and autumn which very dry in SA. The last few weeks it’s been pissing down (30mm in the last 36 hours) which has dented her enthusiasm for the phrase somewhat. Everyone can see millions of litres of stormwater literally going down the drain and we’re wondering why.

  3. Basically, Diogenes, because stormwater is f***ing expensive to ‘harvest’.

    It’s a bit like the old tank debate – surely, people say, we should whack water tanks on every house and that’ll drought proof them, when in fact tanks are one of the most expensive opitions for water storage and (if it doesn’t rain) only buy the householder a couple weeks more water.

    Similarly, stormwater looks damn attractive but – as with anything to do with water – is nowhere near as simple as it looks.

    Firstly, drains don’t go to a central point. In one street, the drains may go in many different directions – one might drain to the sewers, another to a nearby creek, another into a paddock, etc. To use the water effectively, these drains would need to be reconfigured so that all the water ended up in the one place. For even a small area of suburb, we’re starting to talk serious dollars – rejigging the drainage system will require not only streets but backyards to be dug up. If you’re really serious, given that all the water should end up in the same storage (multiple distribition points will bring its own set of problems) water will have to be pumped up hill or tunnels built.

    Secondly, this water will need to be stored, treated and distributed. To get the water into a central place, requires multiple pumping stations to get it there and another set of pipes to redistribute it.

    I’m a Victorian so I’m used to our water storage systems, so forgive me if the situation I’m describing isn’t relevant to you. Our water catchments are kept as pristine as possible, to minimise water contamination. Even then, water has to be treated – sometimes with several different measures – to be of drinkable standard.

    Stormwater runs off roofs (which often carry a layer of dust and ash), into drains (obvious litter traps) – a degree of potential contamination higher than tanks. This means that this water would require a higher level of treatment than ‘normal’ catchment water.

    I may be icing the cake a little – I’m a layman – but I think it’s more likely that I’ve overlooked expenses that a water expert would see. However, we get back to the problem that tanks have – efficient water storage and distribution does not come from little bits of water collected from here and there. Water is a bulk commodity and is most effectively gathered and distributed as such.

  4. zoom

    I should add that when we look at all that water going down the drain, it’s more a sense of frustration and helplessness than having a rational argument that it should be used. My argument was more a political one explaining SA’s disgust about water rather than thinking stormwater is the solution. Lots of comments on the blogs here talk about a civil war vs Qld/NSW/Vic due to water. I don’t think we’ve got all that many troops and generals here in SA so that one would be a long-term project. 😉

    That being said, aren’t there new suburbs being built which are configured to provide sustainable water from stormwater for the suburb as they are built? I understand that if you built the infrastructure as the houses go up, it can become cost-effective.

    As an example about the Tiser’s campaign, I’ll link a site where they ask 16 “experts” on how to Save the Murray. I’m still struggling through understanding CC and haven’t got around to working out anything about water yet. If you asked a South Australian, they would all say that water/Murray is more important than CC to the future of SA, acknowledging that the two are linked.,,5017720,00.html

  5. Diogenes @ 335

    Thank you on info about Rann’s plans. Mayfield will not be the last pollie to lose a seat because of CC. CC mishandling was part and parcel of the end of the Howard Government and, depending on how CC stochastic events unfold, it is likely that other governments will end up going the same way. It is obviously a huge stressor already for the SA government.

    Good to hear that Adelaide is getting some decent rain. These days nothing like a good fall of rain to lift the spirits, of most folk anyway. It still gives me the irrits whenever TV newsreaders in the middle of our worst drought on record call a sunny weekend without rain ‘good weather’. They are citified fools who just don’t get the scale of the tragedy that is unfolding in our farming areas.

    BTW, I have seen some stuff on the Goyder Line heading South because of changes to long term rainfall patterns, thereby possibly putting the Clare Valley at risk as a production area. Now that would be a real vintage CC tragedy!

  6. Dyno


    Your very detailed reply Dyno to my #326 Dyno does clarify I now understand it was a “possible” scenario , rather than from you viewpoint a “likely” scenario of Liberal Party’s demise Up to your clarifiaction post #329 , I’d been quite mystified frankley by your earlier post about ‘liberal party demise talk , given your stated politcal beliefs !!

    Apart from your “possible” scenario , Doug and I ar debating another scenario (regarding th small “L” Liberal voters) Whilst I tend to be idealistic on Labor Party principals & policys and there benefits , but my studies over time of various politcal Party’s “positioning” & respective voters perceptons hav influenced my views of what is possible I can see merits in both your “possible” scenario , and also in Doug’s different again scenario , but unpersuaded so far

    Taking your scenario for instanse through th 4 steps Dyno you outlined , I got to step 2 OK but only in a theoretical sense , was cautous step 3 may occur Also wondered at step 3/ where at that stage some of blocks of NON busines small “L” Liberal voters may be located , and who for

    But Step 4/ was too much for me ! Actualy believe before step 4/ , and during step 3 if it commenced , clever Labor people i’d hope would prevent step 4/ ocuring and instead , see th wisdom in not being greedy (it is usualy fatal anywhere , includng politcs)

    Even current 57% 2PP think i not “real deal” , feel perhaps up to 2% is disapproval/”flirting’ that is returnable to Liberal Party , with changed agenda & generational policys and a bettrer leader , so believe approx 55% to 45% is reality very tops Any big problems can reduce that 2% Also think small “L” liberal voters today probabley understand frustrations of Labor suporters when they had crazy ” ‘sociialist left’ in Labor Party (and often dominating) , comparable to present Liberals problem having “dry conservative” wing in control

    Am happy with Labor Party’s curent voter ‘left positioning’ and its continued
    ‘ownership’ of ” workers” , uninterupted since 1891 formation Its genuine ‘left’ policys for workers & its positioning has succesfully in politcal strategy left no room for Greens ever to move from ‘outer left’ to ‘Labor left’ It leaves th Liberals chance iof winning government , but to do so has to pinch all th middle (many of whom still ‘think left’) That requires alot of poor Labor decions & leaders & th reverse concurentley for th Liberal or a calamity

  7. zoom @ 354 –

    It’s actually easier than that. At least here. Most of the storm water in the Adelaide plain is channelled out to sea via only a handful of rivers/creaks. There are already a number of wetlands that have been constructed across the metro area that can filter out much of the contamination, and more could be constructed. And most importantly,there is a suitable aquifer to store the water We also have an expert on how to do all this working at Adelaide Uni.

    According to his calculations the cost of the needed infrastructure is less than for the proposed billion dollar desal plant and could annually recover many times the quantity of water the plant could produce. Running costs would be a fraction of the huge amount required to desal salt water.

    None of this is rocket science. One large council, Salisbury, has been harvesting it’s storm water this way and selling it to local industry for years.

    But the government (and opposition) doesn’t want to know. So gigalitres of reasonably clean fresh water will be allowed to flow out to sea where it is killing the seaweed/grasses, to be thoroughly mixed with salt and then desalinated back into fresh water at a huge cost to taxpayers and the environment.

    BTW-everyone who thinks the current problems couldn’t be foreseen should read the following from 2003:

    It also canvasses some of the solutions.

  8. Mayo

    “One large council, Salisbury, has been harvesting it’s storm water this way and selling it to local industry for years.”

    I’ve always assumed a cost/benefit plan by all Governmetns showed it up poorly , seeing th “idea” must hav been thought of by most ratepayers

  9. Now that the Brisbane Lord Mayor has been signed up by the Pineapple Party by listing his name on their website, the collapse of the Liberal Party in Queensland means the Liberal Party no longer has any Minister or Lord mayor in any Federal, State or local government major city jurisdiction in Australia at present.

    It is probably the first time that a country based party has set itself up to have such a major influence in major city politics, too.

  10. Understand the symbolism of it, Diogenes, which is one of the reasons I now understand some of the issues (was advocating for policy changes along these lines and in the process got educated – a little).
    One more thing, just while I think of it – stormwater has the same problem water tanks do, that if there isn’t any rain, you can’t capture it anyway.
    As to the planning issues involved, yes, it’s common sense, in the same way that requiring all new houses to have ‘plumbing’ for optic fibre, water tanks (I’m not contradicting myself, every little bit helps), grey water recycling and solar panels is also. Unfortunately our mish mash of constitutions (Federal, State) and planning regimes (some state wide, some council by council) prevents some of these things happening as quickly as they should do.

    Mayo, a bit dubious that naturally falling rain being discharged as stormwater can be doing environmental damage, unless of course you are referring to the pollutants it carries, which isn’t the fault of the stormwater (and should have been filtered out through those wetlands you mention). You do have to consider the environmental impacts of this water NOT going down the drains as well – in a natural system, it would all have flowed into the sea and the local marine environment would have evolved with this ‘expectation’ of freshwater flushing. If it’s all diverted to human use (and in an ideal stormwater capture system, you would expect the same water to be recycled almost indefinitely) then there WILL be some environmental cost to the marine systems.

    I’m also dubious about ‘government doesn’t want to know’ claims. Why wouldn’t it? In practical terms, if there’s a workable solution that’s cheaper than other options on the table, governments will leap at it with open arms.

    The advantage desal plants have over water tanks, dams, stormwater capture etc is that these all rely on rain and desals don’t. For Governments looking down the barrel of zero water allocations, this makes desal plants very attractive….if not downright essential.

  11. zoom @ 364 –

    Ever widening areas of sea grasses/weed in the waters off Adelaide have been dying for decades. It’s not pollutants in the water, but the water itself.

    Yes,there was water runoff before the city was built, but only a tiny fraction of what ends up there now.

    As for needing rain to make such a system work, well this winter the Adelaide plain has had better than average rainfalls. But most of this has ended up in the gulf and come summer we’ll be back to draining what little is left in the Murray to flush dunnies!

    Why is Rann going for desal instead of strmwater harvesting? In a word, PANIC. It’s the quick and sexy fix for a government that did nothing for at least 6 years despite clear warnings from the very experts it continues to ignore on water harvesting.

    As per my previous, a local council was able to set up a stormwater scheme in its area. Google ‘Mawson Lakes’ to see how much water they have available. Over 4,000 homes in the area will have dual water reticulation by 2010 and the water in the lakes is from recyled stormwater. A lot of the big manufacturers in the area get water from the scheme too.

    Some links:,22606,23661217-5014332,00.html

  12. I’m a fan of Kate Ellis, she’s got tons of charisma, and she’s a good sort too!
    But I concede that Sports Minister would be the easiest gig to have in the ministry LOL

  13. I like MayoFeral’s points on saving stormwater. As he says, Adelaide is a special case, being on the plains and all runoff pointed westwards already. It certainly makes more sense than desalinisation.

    I wonder about the future of the Murray-Darling basin, as do most SA and former SA people (like me). The inertia is very alarming, even if the politics makes such a condition likely.

    Politically, it is not very likely that the upriver irrigaters will be removed or even restricted much in the short term, even if the case for getting out of cotton and rice gets stronger.

    Politically and economically, however, it should not be too costly to convert various open channel irrigation schemes (in the MIA, the Upper Murray and various tributaries) to the Israeli-type drip schemes. It would lead to less water usage, less loss through evaporation and less salinisation.

    Anyone have any further information?

  14. 6 Qld properties up for sale with water storages full holding 300GL of water. Should the govt buy these and send the water down the Darling?

    I also have seen references that over areas of native vegetation rainclouds are seen but over adjacent farms are clear skies: if true this suggests some marginal land should be returned to native vegetation and so hopefully keeping the Goyder line where it is

  15. Jen@356

    Well, if I had to choose I think this would be right up there.

    No antidote, slow acting, may well be completely metabolised by time of death and even suboptimal doses cause nasty side effects including severe brain damage.

    And before you ask, I’m a chemist. I deal with this sort of thing every day. Forewarned is forearmed.

  16. Oh, just in case, I was only answering Jen’s toungue in cheek question relating to the polonium poisoning of Litivienko. Please don’t take this to mean I’m suggesting anything for god’s sake.

  17. Jen@371

    Not quite, but it’s a damn sight easier to get than Polonium. Actually as an Australian Green you probably know all about sodium monofluoroacetate – it’s common name is 1080.

  18. Sorry William, this is very very off topic but it has to be said as our existence on this earth here is on the line.

    At Cern, the European nuclear research organisation in Geneva, they are going to switch on the world’s most powerful particle accelerator on 10 September, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

    [Engineers had previously brought a beam of protons – tiny, sub-atomic particles – to the “doorstep” of the LHC. On 9 August, protons will be piped through LHC magnets for the first time. The most powerful physics experiment ever built, the LHC will re-create the conditions present in the Universe just after the Big Bang]

    However, some scientists have claimed that if something goes wrong a mini black hole will be created and swallowed up the earth.

    [the Large Hadron Collider is so energetic, it could have unforeseen consequences. Critics are worried that mini-black holes made at the soon-to-open facility on the French-Swiss border might threaten the Earth’s very existence]

    So why are we jumping up and down about few human rights abused in China or the Iranian nuke bombs? We could be wiped out by 10 September. We really should be jumping up and down at the French-Swiss border.

  19. Please tell me you have the sarcasm lever pushed into overdrive Finns?

    (Love to see the correlation between the scientists claiming the end of the earth and the CC deniers…)

  20. Amigo FINNS

    “However, some scientists have claimed that if something goes wrong a mini black hole will be created and swallowed up the earth.”

    So we could all go to th never nevers , before our solar farms hav even been set up And all to find out where th cosmos came from

  21. ron

    Think of the bright side. They might be able to solve the nuclear fusion problem and fix all our energy needs.


    The event horizon of the black hole generated with those masses of particle is probably about a millionth of a millimetre. As long as you’re not in that 0.00000000000000001 m, you should be safe.

  22. Amigo Ronnie, actually, what really worries me is not that we might disappear into the black hole. Is really that we might not get to see Cossie publishes his book and becomes the Opp Leader.

  23. Peter Hartcher work has always been degraded by his inability to set aside political bias.

    If he is really pumping for Costello then he is a fool pure and simple and has never observed Costello outside of QT.

    Odd that a person be considered PM material based soley on his persona in QT, as he has done nothing anywhere else to suggest he should be a candidate.

    Costello’s greatest achievement since 1994 was to remain a compliant doormat for Howard. He has shown himself a coward at every turn – in challenging for the leadership and in stopping Howard spending damaging to the economy (which he acknowledges). Not to mention a reduction in Education, Health and Infrastructure investment, something that might be useful in suring up the economy.

    And as Keating observered he is without imagination, a policy mouse. A decade as Treasurer and couldn’t think up a policy. This is their white knight?

    In fact I believe I saw a cartoon of Costello as a doormat in front of Kirribili at one time last year.

  24. 382 Thomas

    It’s even worse when you consider that his so called abilities in QT were under the auspices of a ridiculously biased speaker.

    It’s one of my dearest wishes to see tip go up against Gillard in the new parliament. She’ll tear him a new one.

  25. FINNS

    “Amigo Ronnie, actually, what really worries me is not that we might disappear into the black hole. Is really that we might not get to see Cossie publishes his book and becomes the Opp Leader”.

    Amigo , Actualy seeing according to Diogenosky’s calcs of space of millionth of a millimetre , plus barbarian conversions thats 0.00000000000000001 m , equal to th size of Cossie’s classic memoirs book …..and space left over for his heart

  26. Morgan says –
    “On a two-party preferred basis ALP support is unchanged at 55% while L-NP support is 45%, this is despite much media debate on who should be leader of the Coalition — Nelson, Turnbull or Costello.”
    You have to laugh, it may be because of the leadership that the result hasn’t changed or that, because nothing has changed in regard to the opposition leadership nothing has changed in the polls one way or the other.

  27. How odd, you go to Morgans site and that poll doesn’t show and yet the link James gives works. What is going on?

  28. Gary, all sorts of strange things are going on at Morgan at the moment, like that 1991 Senate poll leading to a broken link which has been there for a week now. I and I guess James too have learned about this poll from Morgan’s email alert. But like I said – new thread.

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