Essential Research: 59-41

The first poll of the year comes from Essential Research, and it shows Labor’s two party lead up from 58-42 in mid-December to 59-41. Also featured: leadership approval (Rudd steady since late October, Turnbull up five points), economic expectations, ranking of issue importance and the conflict in Gaza.

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.

397 comments on “Essential Research: 59-41”

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  1. [Maybe the problem in Sydney is the use of double-decker trains, which was a good idea at the time to increase capacity, but they are slow and costly. Now that demand is increasing it is impossible to increase train numbers.]

    But if you go to single deckers then they may run more often but they carry less people per train, so the capacity problem still remains. That’s just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic IMO. More lines are needed, simple as that.

  2. Dario

    In a practical sense the double deckers have LESS capacity than the big singles in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. The main capacity problem with running trains on time in the peak is loading and unloading time, not number of seats. The double deckers are very inefficient at this and hence constrain system capacity, despite the seemingly high capacity per train.

    But overall you are right – they need more track capacity. Again though, its not just number of tracks. The main bottlenecks in their tracks are a number of rail junctions they need to grade separate, to get full capacity out of each track. Good junctions (and signalling) can mean the difference between running a train every 3 minutes on a track (Brisbane is doing this now in places) or every six minutes. So you can double the capacity of your tracks by taking out the system constraints.

  3. Those unemployment figures are quite good really. In net terms, only a few thousand jobs went and 40,000 full-time jobs were converted to part-time. That is the pattern in the US and UK but their increase in unemployment is much greater and they were starting from a higher base. The estimate of 6% by the end of the year looks about right, which is much closer to Gillard’s 5.5% (which was the official estimate) than Bishop’s histrionic 8%.

    Another bad day for the Libs and Bishop especially.

  4. VERA


    “I’m a NSWelshman and this might come as a shock but I gotta say I’m happy with my lot. ”

    Hi Vera , and am happy you ar….. I get sick of small minded non NSW posters saying don’t giv NSW any money presently as govt is no good , as was said by Harry last nite What alot of damn nonsense , oz govts do not work that way at all , and also put in strings & governanse as well s (others were just tounge in cheeks perhaps)

    NSW has been th financial engines room (followed by Victoria) for supplying money to smaller States for decades so those smaller States can hav services & can grow Then when these small minded non NSW posters get chalenged for there foolish statement like Harry they back pedal & arrogantly spam to camaflage there ilogical nonsense

    Thats why we hav a Federaton , so richer States subsidize poorer/smaller States so public services and standard of livings is equalised as posible accross our Country Now its NSW’s turn to hav a tough trot , and of course Rudd WILL ‘lend’ money to NSW unlike what was said by poster , and has already done so has already & has promised more if needed because its part of oz….actualy NSW to spend over 3 billion extra capital expenditure already this fin year vs last

    Unfortunattely Howie kept alot of infrastacture monies , and NSW needed it th most , as Sydney is th biggest need as its bigest City , and its th oldest so less planning went into Sydney it just grew long before others and that slippery Greiner cared voters Govt Debt is bad so Carr & later guy ddidn’t borow enough Govt Debt for public transport etc , & but what money he got went wrong ways to freeways Remeber Fed libs in power

    And th petty minded State righters don’t mind taking th benenfits of th oz Federaton when it suits there own State , and forgets th cycle see saw always turns ….and no don’t live in NSW anymore

    So we can hav NSW Labor warts and all , with chanse Rudd will point them right & giv them money that he’s started to , and especialy to get more rail blah blah , or we can hav th right wing Lib nutters in power in NSW , who ar more right wing than most other Lib States …cause they sure ar not going to build public transport or care as much re hospitals etc Anyway VERA who else has th Harbor Bridge

  5. thankyou so much Vera, thats obviously worked, i’ll remember next time, things are getting closer here and i wanted my avatar changed to nemesis, i’ve always believed things would move, i’ve left the revenge emotion way behind, but if some can be named and shamed for other things thats great, especially as someone had a big court loss today, they are the minnows, nemesis is really catching up on the main fish though, so i can only wait and see what happens.

  6. the job figures are really exceptional considering the doom and gloom we’ve been expecting, a lot of economists are expecting the turnabout to start later this year with things getting back to normal early next year, if thats the case and we can stay under 6% unemployed we’ll sail through after looking at what other countries are going through.

  7. [In a practical sense the double deckers have LESS capacity than the big singles in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth]

    In terms of passengers per hour per line, yes. But the ‘increase’ by moving to single deckers is just not a big enough difference to solve the problem, at a huge expense.

  8. Dario

    No, true; they might get 20% more capacity out of changing to single deckers at best. Of course some of the double deckers are very old and past their economic life, hence should be replaced anyway.

    But overall you are right – Sydney rail will only get “fixed” when someone puts some serious money into fixing network constraints like new high speed signaling ($2M/km), grade separating key juncitons (can cost $150M+ each), rebuilding and improving ped access to some inner city stations ($10M+ each) and extra track on some key inner sections of busiest lines.

  9. As a non engineer i’d query can design more eficient separate access to top and bottom , or extrend stations length (and wear th “cost” and so add cariages per train ….building new innner lines has big hurdles , doing nothing won’t do

  10. Finns you aren’t a bad hairdresser , I owe it all to you!

    Hi Ron
    The only money Howard didn’t mind giving to a labor run NSW was the bailouts he gave to his brother. He gave $2mil of taxpayers money to bail out his brother Stan when he was chairman of a failed textile company in Sydney so the workers could be paid whereas other workers in same situation (companies gone broke no money for employee entitlements) were more or less told to go jump.
    Also I seem to remember there being trouble when brother Stan was chairman of Hills Motorway . Don’t know if there was a bail out there or not, just remember it being in the news a few years back you might know more about it than me Ron.

  11. I saw a piece by Bob Carr last year where he claimed that critics of his government that claimed he underspent on infrastructure were wrong and cited figures that showed how much he increased capital expenditure.

    I did a bit of checking and found that he was right. The problem is that a lot of the infrastructure was for the Olympics so isn’t providing a lot of benefit now.

    There’s not much point saying that the opposition hasn’t got a plan to fix NSW’s transport problems either. The ALP will have been in government for 16 years by the time of the next election. Voters will feel fairly justified in feeling that any problems that exist are either their fault or something that they’ve had long enough to address.

  12. Ron

    The answer on the more efficient carriage entry design is not really. One of the biggest impediments is the stairs inside each carriage. To fix it you are firtually rebuilding every carriage. The cost would be so high you might as well build new trains.

    Extending the stations is not cheap, because you have to do all of them and many are space constrained by buildings etc near the end of platforms. The EMUs (trains) run as fixed units so you need to get enough extra length to add an entire consist on; very costly.

    The cheapest solution to getting major capacity imrpovement would be to increase the nuber of trains per line you run on existing lines. i.e. get the most out of what you have already got first. But even that would cost several billion, for signals, grade separations, fixing sub-standard track, station access improvements and probably extra rolling stock. This sort of 3exercise is going to be done in Adelaide in the next few years and even here there will be little change out of $2 billion. Sydney’s system is five times as big and in worse condition.

  13. VERA

    “but you might know more about it than me Ron.”

    Vera there ar just too many comflicts in Howie brother Stan Howards affairs , they were everywhere as he was I think on Boards of alot of companies Your memory is good alright , we had NSW Lib chief Bruce Baird ‘assisting’ with moneyies re Hills Motorway where Stan Howie was a director Then there was a US IT crowd , forgototn name , where Fahey ex NSW lib premier when Fed finance honcho desided to outsourse Fed Govt IT and this US IT crowd got contracts for over 100 million or approx that , and low and behold Stan Howie was in mangement as well there too or as a director Remeber thinking , these coincidenses just keep rolling along with Stan Howie , always th wrong man in th right place So you ar right (as usual) Vera thats when lots of Fed Liberal Govt monies did go to NSW or at least th “right” people

  14. Ron

    A valid point on where federal money went in NSW, though it doesn’t entirely get the State off the hook IMO. What about the schools – how many stories have there been of very wealthy schools (or small obscure ones for religeous fundamentalists) getting millions while the state system fall further into decay? Health and Education are the two biggest items on most State and Federal budgets. If you bugger up expenditure in those areas you will never have enough cash spare to fix the trains, or anything else.

  15. “how many stories have there been of very wealthy schools (or small obscure ones for religeous fundamentalists) getting millions while the state system fall further into decay?”

    I thought under Howards Schools Comission grant formuli system you couldnot avoid that with wealthy private schools etc

    With public schools , apart from Federol monies for public schools , th NSW Labor Govt did hav significant monies for NSW public schools to split but don’t tink there ar many wealth public schools that dollars would be great

    Having said that , i’ve prevously said awhile ago , I’m not happy Ruddy had to commit to 2009- 2013 schools commission grant formala scheme as I feel its totaly unequitable Reason he did so so to prevent Howard labelling him with th 2004 latham rich list bit …which cost labor heaps of all private schools voters in 2004 electon , but there is some golden lining to my schools rudd critiques and thats th ‘education revolution’ expediture on School computers etc….as thats abit of a clever way around th Schools comm grant system in capital expenduture terms , seeing most wealthy schools may hav numerous computers etc and most poor public & poor private Catholic type schools may not hav lots
    “The cheapest solution to getting major capacity imrpovement would be to increase the nuber of trains per line you run on existing lines.” But what happens when you’ve get to max load capacity doing that and population/need capacity starts exceeding that , and that station length suggeston do costs of trying build a brand new line a new station at each station and numerous homes demolished for length of new line & logisitics dificulties exceed not having to widen exising line at all just constructions area effected at each station but not in between & not widening corridor however wonder if costs diff may not be great

  16. [
    If Labor runs on IR and Workchoices again they are a pathetic mob….
    And what is the appropriate epithet for a mob that loses an election to a pathetic mob?

  17. Glen old chum, your going to have to accept work choices will keep on giving for quite a while yet, especially in these precarious times, workers are adding up at just where they would be now if WC was still in play, the extreme right nutters in the coalition are still banging the WC drum, more fool them.

  18. Judith when the Unions want pattern bargaining and want increases in wages that will cost jobs i hardly think Labor has a perfect IR system anyway…

  19. Gary Bruce at 317 wrote:

    [It will be IR stupid at the next election.]

    I hope so. They have surely earned one or two more good defeats on IR.

    Have seen some tools on ABC News blogs this week referring to Labor’s ‘Forward with Fairness’ package as UnionChoices. LOL, how dumb. I guess they thought they were being realllly clever by conceiving a rhetorical counter to the appellation ‘SerfChoices’ which is thrown in their faces every time IR is mentioned. I know that being original is a bit too much to expect of some conservatives, but still…

    Didn’t have the heart to tell them that, besides revisiting attention in the minds of readers to their lousy WorkChoices, UnionChoices speaks to no one but fellow diehard Liberals anyway. Read any blog, any news comment from the public, and any time there’s a gratuitous, out-of-context reference to “unions” you know you’re looking at a live hardcore Liberal loon.

    UnionChoices – All that brain-strain to come up with a rhetorical attack .. to no net gain. Plunk!

  20. [Judith when the Unions want pattern bargaining and want increases in wages that will cost jobs i hardly think Labor has a perfect IR system anyway…]

    so Glen, what have been the Union pattern bargaining and wage increases which have produced the recent, widespread loss of jobs in the mining industry?

  21. [If Labor runs on IR and Workchoices again they are a pathetic mob….]

    Why? It is/was deliberate Liberal Party policy. Imposed in the full knowledge and intent that workers would be worse off.

    How much mileage did the miserable Liberals make of “Labor’s 17% interest rates”? I couldn’t count how many times I’ve heard the phrase leave their lips. And they ran in 2004 on lies about interest rates with that same phrase as textual background on their TV “ads”.

  22. Cuppa, how could you? The Liberal brains trust have just come up with some propaganda that unemployment is going to be their lifeline back to government. Oh well, back to the drawing board to dig up another theory for the Liberals.

  23. Steve, WorkChoices would see huge numbers thrown out of work, especially in a slowing economy. Unfair Dismissal protection gone. Fire without notice or reason necessary. Abolished the disincentive to firing of redundancy compensation. It’s the green light to skyhigh unemployment.

    That’ s even before taking into account the effect of declining wages on business takings. Reduced takings, leading to more firings and pay cuts. Recipe for disaster.

  24. well how can they , th new legislation as with w/c disallows it

    glen if you’re going to throw red herring bait , make it accurate quality

  25. Liberals don’t care if it’s factual or a red herring. It’s an attack on workers’ unions, and that’s enough for them.

    Creepy that they are so dead set against the idea of workers organising and lobbying for their mutual benefit, when any other sector of the economy can and is allowed to do the same without attack.

  26. Here’s something for the Libs to bitch about, that Ruddie Kev747 going OS again between Jan 28th- Feb 3rd
    Won’t Talcum be jealous, Rudd mixing it with 40 world leaders while he’s left at home. Obama will be in charge by then, will we see some happy snaps of him and Kev 🙂
    [Mr Rudd, dubbed Kevin 747 by the opposition, will visit India, Papua New Guinea and Switzerland where he will take part in The World Economic Forum.

    More than 40 world leaders will take part in the forum likely to be dominated by discussions on the global economic crisis.

    On his first trip to India as prime minister, Mr Rudd will meet with his counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh to discuss a range of issues including security and climate change.]

  27. Can’t see why some PBers think today’s unemployment was good. It was mediocre, an overall figure in line with (or perhaps 0.1% better than) expectations, but a surprisingly large number of jobs becoming part-time.

    We are still in the “don’t know” stage about how hard the world downturn is going to bite us.

  28. agree there , suspect if it ends at no more than 6% peak this country will be fortunate , feel GFC effects in other countrys not at rock bottom and iits gotta come here

  29. th times they ar a changin

    Last Saturday in London there was a 100,000 plus crowd protesting against Israel

    In 1967 Europeans supported Israel’s side 73%… (support Palastiniens side 27%)
    Now Europeans suport Israel’s side 33% …(suport Palastiniens side 67%)

    UN Chief himself condemns , and so th Vatican , and so th Red Cross condemns
    Fair peace for both is needed with securitys , but more dark clouds ar there to fear as almost by day resentment protests occur in Egypt for its pro US , and non suport for Palestiniens rightful claim for there own State with th pre 1967 borders contigous efective , and what if Egyptian protests sucede and Egypt is controlled by that ” Muslim Brotherhood” crowd take overs …and they also said USA’s close ally th Shah of Iran wuld never get overthrown too , but he did , now what they got

  30. [Can’t see why some PBers think today’s unemployment was good]

    I’m not sure any of us think they are good, but they certainly aren’t as bad as the media is trying to portray either. The US is already up over 7% unemployed, and the EU is nearly at 8%.

  31. Oz, thanks for standing in for me this morning. A good suggestion too, although like most good suggestions to politicians it has no chance of coming off, unlessss Rudd demands something of the sort to implement his capital works plan cum GFC antidote. Undoubtedly a large proportion of Rudds plan will be spent on NSW because of its importance to tne national economy and its role in the national bottleneck.

    Re Sydney rail, I agree with all PBers including Ron. My fantasy plan for Sydney would be to institute a system of regional hubs such as Liverpool, Parramatta, Penrith, Richmond, Chatswood, Windsor and several others where localised train/metro lines and buses fed into an express system into the city where a new network on the eastern side of the CBD helped take some of the strain off the current Central/Town Hall/Wynyard bottlenecks. In addition there should be a northern beaches line possibly tunnelling under the harbour near Neutral Bay to join the Eastern Suburbs line which would be extended to Bondi and thence southward to Botany and join the Airport line. All this would require the building of several new main lines and an enormous network of secondary lines. I dont see it happening until petrol is in nightmare range.

  32. When reading figures on employment /unemployment in the near future, take into account the one of the employment categories most endangered is journalism, especially business journalism. Then remember the old saying “a recession is when my neighbour loses his job, a depression is when I lose my job”.

    The figures are unarguably good. The possible black lining on the silver cloud has been emphasised by every commentator in the press and TV. They are using these figures to extrapolate out into the future, the same future the almost universally failed to correctly predict at the peak of the boom.

    Doris Day was the best economist I ever heard. Que sera,sera!

  33. Interestingly the breakup of the oligarchs in the financial,computing etc industries will create,in a much shorter time,the enterprise of thatchers britain.BUT without the tremendous upheaval her “privatisations” caused

    More interestingly it wont be the breakup of gvt control but the breakup of those “private” sectors that abused gvt controls.The opportunity for small business is probably better than its ever been.
    Once the capital flows return that is.

    ps Ron do you post at LP?

  34. Hey Diog, Yes, it’s time to be quiet, as the lady is on stage. We love youse all, she said. Hang on, who the POTUS elect here. Hillary or Obi. Obi will be too busy handling his mum-in-law in the White House anyway. Brave man. Que sera, sera indeed.

    [Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) nearly choked up as he spoke. “Parting is such sweet sorrow – I have such sweet memories of you,” he said. “I feel like crying.”

    An emotional Clinton responded, “This is not goodbye — this is just a wave, Harry.. . . We’re going to be in each others’ hearts and minds.”

    Schumer said he had “complete confidence” that Clinton would be “the best Secretary of State this country has ever known.

    Alluding to his relationship with Clinton, which improved steadily through the years they served together, Schumer said: “Hillary looks great from far away, but up close it’s even better.”

    “Hillary,” he said, “you’re the greatest.” ]

  35. Gusface, your post reminds me of Naomi Klein’s book “The Shock Doctrine”. Her argument is that right-wing corporatists utilise a national “shock” like a war or natural disaster to ram through free-market reform. She uses Thatcher as an example

    Interesting hypothesis but a terrible, haphazard book.

  36. Dyno, I didnt make any predictions based on the employment figures on purpose. As they stand, they are very good figures, probably worldbeating figures. What they forecast, I leave up to Doris.

  37. Well, Michael, you are right about Doris being the best economist ever.

    But they are only worldbeating figures if you ignore the fact that no-one was expecting Australia’s unemployment to be bad by this stage.

    They are, in fact, very ambiguous figures, susceptible of any number of interpretations, a point which you tacitly acknowledge by “on purpose” not making any predictions.

  38. Sorry Oz
    but who is naomi klein? (excusee ignorance)

    The funny thing is back in 1991,I helped start a business at the height of the recession then.My two top guns were from the uk and had a drive that was inspirational at the time.

    Their perspective was Gvt= bad,private = good

    Now I think the reverse applies.

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