Sunday Mail: 64-36 to SA Labor in Adelaide

Adelaide’s News Limited Sunday tabloid, the Sunday Mail, today carries a poll with a small sample of 483 showing state Labor with a two-party lead of 64-36 among Adelaide voters. Remarkable as that might sound, Antony Green calculates it’s in the same ballpark as the 2006 election, when the Adelaide two-party result was 62.6-37.4. Antony further observes that the Sunday Mail article absurdly compares this purely metropolitan result with the statewide two-party figure from 2006 to conjure a 7 per cent Labor swing that would cost the Liberals eight of their 14 seats. In reality, the poll points to a roughly status quo result, although that’s quite bad enough for the Liberals given the scale of Labor’s win in 2006.

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.

271 comments on “Sunday Mail: 64-36 to SA Labor in Adelaide”

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  1. Dodgy poll or not – SA Liberals to get “pounded” at next years election.

    Also, one for Antony – you put Dunstan’s success down to Liberal infighting. Was there really any difference in the state of the Liberals when comparing the 1977 and 1979 elections? Look at the drubbing Labor got in 1979. Sure there were reasons for that, but it takes a lot to go from a 53% 2PP to a 45% 2PP.

  2. [Surely that’s a first. Getting the first post snipped for being offensive.]

    I used the five-letter word starting with R. In hindsight maybe I shouldn’t have used it.

  3. Recalling news reports from the time, one of the reasons the ALP lost in 1979 was that a snap transport strike occurred midday on the day before the election. In the days when strikes occurred a lot more often than today, it was the last straw for many voters. There was probably also that Des Corcoran couldn’t maintain the Dunstan momentum – though I don’t think Don Dunstan was too popular by the end of his rule.

    Does anybody know why Des Corcoran went early in 1979?

  4. It’s not just the dodgy documents that has caused this. It’s the talk of a leadership spill, I mean why would the voters want MHS if his own party doesn’t want him.

    The Ruddster also gave Rann a free kick with the extra dosh for the desal plant which has partly neutralised the Water topic (along with it being winter and everyone having nice gardens now) which was Rann’s worst area. The election will be held in March when our brown dirt gardens will again remind us that we have no water.

    I heard from a well-placed source that the Libs looked around three weeks ago to dump MHS but found all the alternatives were even worse, which is really saying something.

  5. [The election will be held in March when our brown dirt gardens will again remind us that we have no water.]
    So Rann will be blamed for the lack of rainfall? That’s a bit harsh isn’t it?

  6. Why did Des Corcoran go early in 1979?

    One story is that while he was in bed sounding his wife Carmel out on the merits of an election, she misheard him and said yes.

  7. GB

    We can only water our gardens for 3 hours a week and you can only use a hose, no sprinklers. This is obviously too much of a pain to do so most of us have just let the lawn die.

    We never get rain in summer and we’re completely dependent on sprinklers in summer.

  8. Wow this poll is bad. Badly done but equally bad for the liberals.

    The reporting that the liberals are only one 23% is prolly the dodgiest bit, it ignores 14% of the undecided/refused. Why why does the advertiser not exclude them.. Not that 23/86*100 really is that much higher, but that combined with the dodgy metro/rural thing makes a bad poll look horrible.

    Still as a labor man i’m not all that upset the advertiser is playing silly buggers with the polling for both sides.

  9. [The only people who blame Rann for the water issue are rusted on Liberals.]

    Not even remotely true. I’m not a “rusted on Lib” and I do. Most South Aussies think Rann has missed the boat on Water. At least we can blame Penny Wong now for the endless front page stories about how we have no water.

  10. [Not even remotely true. I’m not a “rusted on Lib” and I do. Most South Aussies think Rann has missed the boat on Water.]

    Rann can’t make it rain.


    [Embattled South Australian Opposition Leader Martin Hamilton-Smith is set to face a challenge to his leadership as early as tomorrow.

    The Australian understands liberal frontbencher Mitch Williams, who 10 days ago asked Mr Hamilton-Smith to stand aside for the good of the party, may call a news conference later today to announce his intention to force a leadership spill.]


  12. [This comes in the wake of a devastating poll in the Sunay Mail today which points to an electoral disaster under Mr Hamilton-Smith, as the ongoing fallout from the fake documents affair continues to do his two-year-old leadership just nine months out from the next state election.

    Senior liberals spoken to today by The Australian say the party is “going backwards with Martin and we have no choice but to replace Martin as leader and try to start again and gather up the scraps that are left”.

    “It has taken a little while for some MPs to come to that view, but by the end of today the majority are expected to come to that view,” a party source says. “if Martin was half-smart, he would walk away.”

    It is understood no formal ticket has been formed. Mr Williams declined to comment. ]

    Gold. Pure gold.

  13. Dio you’re talking to a Victorian. We also know about water restrictions.
    So Rann failed to make it rain in the past? Is that the beef?

  14. [Most South Aussies think Rann has missed the boat on Water.]
    Dio, you maybe right with this claim but where is your data showing this to be true?

  15. Page has been moved.,22606,25702722-5006301,00.html

    [PANICKED Liberal MPs are set to force a leadership spill against Opposition Leader Martin Hamilton-Smith – possibly as early as tomorrow.

    The party has been rocked by a new Sunday Mail poll which shows the party heading for electoral annihilation at the March 20, 2010 state election.

    Mr Hamilton-Smith is likely to face a challenge from frontbencher Mitch Williams, the MP for the rural seat of Mackillop, who went to his leader just over a week ago and asked him to stand down because of the “Dodgygate” scandal which has severely embarrassed the party.

    Liberal sources said a ticket involving Mr Williams with either Isobel Redmond or Duncan McFetridge as deputy was more than likely to succeed.

    Mr Hamilton-Smith was at a meeting of candidates this morning and not available for comment.

    Mr Williams did not return calls. ]

  16. One thing that Labor will need to be wary of is that Mitch Williams is a cleanskin, and in terms of looks, appears more leadershipish than his predecessors. I can’t say i’ve heard him debate however.

  17. having worked in a number of different electorate I know that water is always comming up as an issue of concern, but besides wild lefties complaining about lack of action accross the board and for a long time in regards to the Murray, its not an issue that is going to bring down Rann.

  18. Do people really think that rain is the be all and end all of water? They’ve never heard of water policy? Water resource management? We even have a Federal minister for water.

  19. [Tinkering at the edges is all that does.]

    Er, no.

    Given the government has the power to determine how much water gets pulled out of the rivers and dams and who it goes to, it’s probably the biggest factor.

  20. [Given the government has the power to determine how much water gets pulled out of the rivers and dams and who it goes to, it’s probably the biggest factor.]

    Yeah, and we know how much water is in the Murray…

    And as for dams, where you do you think water comes from when the tap is turned on…?


    [For the wider South Australian community, an insipid Opposition is also cause for concern regardless of your political allegiances.

    The Government is obviously doing a good enough job to win wide public support, but robust oppositions keep governments accountable. ],22606,25700094-5006336,00.html

    I certainly agree, but still, a big 🙂 for all those whingers who go on about Rann. Sure he’s not the best but hes far far far from the worst.

  21. bob and GB

    My wife has just written an essay on SA water policy (with help from zoomster). The “stick your head in the sand and say there’s no problem” approach hasn’t been the great success Rann would tell us. And Wong has been doing what she does best, which is

    “Nuffin’, absolutely nuffin'”

  22. [Yeah, and we know how much water is in the Murray…]

    Bob, I can guarantee you that you’ll be hard pressed to find any water expert in Australia that would condone current extraction, transportation and irrigation practices in Australia. We’ve been using water unsustainably for years – mainly due to the kinds of crops we grow, how we move our water from one place to the other, how we inefficiently use water throughout the community, where we source our water from (recycling and stormwater harvesting) and the inability to correctly price the resource. None of these are related to rainfall or drought and pretty much all of them are directly linked to government policy, or can be solved by government policy.

    The drought of the last few years has accelerated our movement towards the “water crunch” but we were heading there pretty quickly without it.

  23. Um The Rann Govt has lobbied and started to build a desal plant that supplies 50% of the states water. We can’t make it rain!

  24. But Oz and dio, your solutions aren’t solutions, they will add some water back but not enough to solve the problem.

    [I hope Hamilton-Smith hangs on, as I put on my Labor supporters hat.]

    Hear hear!!!

  25. The drought may be making things worse but climate change means it will probably never be as good as it once was. It is precisely because “we can’t make it rain” that we have to reduce extractions. That is tough because if irrigators have their water cut off that will cause hardship to the whole community.

    But you can’t keep using what isn’t there and what one farmer uses means less for everyone else. So the sooner the federal govt starts making the difficult decisions about who goes and who stays the better. It should be based on dollar value made per litre of water required. That probably means no more rice! But it will also mean the most efficient and productive farmers stay.

    Currently we are subsidising the agricultural industry with grossly under valued water supplies and then exporting it overseas. Other industries such as mining and manufacturing are far far more water efficient.

  26. Less than 5 years ago the dams along the Murray were virtually full.

    The irrigators drained them and the river and the backwaters that are part of the river ecosystem in less than one year.

    I don’t think people realize how much water irrigators use.

    In SA, and the numbers and percentages are worse in the other Murray states, MOST of the water that flows down the river is used for irrigation.
    And most of that is wasted in evaporation.

    In a ‘normal’ year [if such a year exists any more] irrigators in SA use about 4 times the amount of Murray water that Adelaide uses. Thats a few thousand people compared to a million plus.
    In drought years, such as recently, Adelaide’s need for Murray water increases and the ratio becomes about 3:1 with irrigators getting most.
    By coincidence [?] the difference in usage of Murray water by Adelaide is about the proposed capacity of the desal plant [initially about 50,000,000,000 litres].
    Which, just for initial outlay, will cost about $1.5 billion dollars.

    What other uses could be made of that money?

    A 10% decrease in irrigation along the Murray in SA would deliver more water to the city and to the river with virtually zero impact on local communities [the value of irrigation is vastly overrated] and even less on food prices [most food is grown elsewhere].
    Most debate in the media and by pollies takes little or no notice of the harsh realities of the numbers and of the numerous reports that for years, nearly decades, have been telling pollies etc that the situation is due to over allocation of irrigation and barely related to rainfall. Drought merely exacerbates the underlying cause.

    The cause of the plight of the Murray, particularly in SA has little to do with the drought, that is mainly a secondary factor.

    If the next 5 years saw above average rainfalls [an extremely unlikely event, the CSIRO predictions are for permanently lower rainfalls in the future compared to the past] along the entire catchment area the impact on the environmental flows in the Murray would be minimal.

    Irrigators would simply take the extra out of the river.

    As has happened in the past few years.

    Whenever extra water becomes available the river gets none or next to none and the irrigators get virtually all.
    [I’m an irrigator and whenever an extra quantity of water becomes available I get a letter from Karlene inviting me to apply for it, at no cost]
    Their demand is insatiable.

    Responsibility for this lies in several quarters.
    The River Murray Commission, the state govts, the federal govts, the irrigation lobby, the media …..others
    That includes Rann.

  27. Back to the story…

    [Liberal sources said a ticket involving Mr Williams with either Isobel Redmond or Duncan McFetridge as deputy was more than likely to succeed. ]

    I reckon we’ll see a Williams-Redmond ticket. Redmond is a dill but she’s only just slightly better than Chapman.

  28. It’s funny how lately The Advertiser/Sunday Mail have turned against MHS. They were always against Iain Evans. They were quite anti-Labor when MHS looked half-competative.

    The cynic within me suggests the poll was done for metro areas to give the “64-36 2pp” shocker and get Liberal MPs worked up enough to get behind a challenger. Low and behold, Mitch Williams steps up due to this poll, to give the Libs another stab at the 2010 election. Death by poll… lol.

    I bet they’ll be anti-Labor once Williams takes over the leadership again.

  29. fredex

    Yeah, makes you realize how pathetic is the gesture of ‘buckets in the shower’ which the pollies have been pushing as a distraction from real issues. We can’t expect NSW and VIC govs do to the right thing so federal gov has to take responsibility and get serious. I for one am prepared to vote against Rudd over this and his other lack lustre green credentials.

    (I should add that this post and my last one was written by Mrs D. Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger.)

  30. bob

    I think the papers know the Libs are stuffed under MHS and want a new leader to regain everyone’s interest (much the same reason as the OO got rid of Julie Bishop and Nelson).

    I spoke to a few Libs this week about Williams and they all thought he was their best chance.

  31. [EMBATTLED Opposition Leader Martin Hamilton-Smith warned Parliamentary colleagues to “get their priorites right” as he faces an imminent leadership challenge.

    Mr Hamilton-Smith spent more than two hours trying to verify an Adelaide Now report that front bencher Mitch Williams was mounting a leadership bid one week after he warned Mr Hamilton-Smith to stand down because of the “Dodgygate” scandal which has severely embarrassed the party.

    But while Mr Hamilton-Smith warned colleagues to put the party ahead of their leadership ambitions, he would not say whether he would follow the same formula and step down if the party room required it.

    “I`m not making any statement about that,” he said.

    “All MPs should put the interests of their constitutents first, and the party second and individual ambitions last.

    “They need to get their priorities right and MPs will be in good stead.”

    Speculation was mounting that Mitch Williams would field a ticket involving either Isobel Redmond or Duncan McFetridge as deputy, although Dr McFetridge said he had not been approached.

    One senior party source said the poll was “disastrous”.

    “It’s probably the worst poll I have ever seen in South Australian politics, it’s pretty horrific,” he said.

    “The people who are most responsible for this disastrous poll are Isobel Redmond and Mitch Williams because they caused all this trouble.

    “I would be shocked if there was support manifesting behind them.”

    He said the poll, if repeated in 2010, would leave the Liberal Party in a situation where “you wouldn’t be able to have footage without a Labor member in the shot”.

    Leadership aspirant Mitch Williams is understood to be preparing to make a comment later today.],22606,25702722-5006301,00.html

  32. I agree with Mrs [or Ms?] Dio but unfortunately the problem we have is that the ‘other mob’ are even worse than Rudd/Wong etc who are at least vaguely aware of the problem.
    Rann I’m not so sure about but the problem that the other mob are completely clueless applies there too.
    The Libs, and the Nats even more so, are the major cause of the problem being the mouthpieces for the irrigation lobby.
    I sit here on the Murray, I’m looking at it now, its just the other side of one of the dead lagoons along the Murray, and get amazed by the misinformation that is spread.
    I can see, from where I am typing this, an irrigation area that uses currently, taking into account quotas, more water than a very large suburb in the city, thousands of houses. And employs a fraction of a percent of the workers in that suburb.
    And there is a similar place to my left and one around the corner of the river.
    Between they may employ a few hundred people directly and indirectly [and thats a very generous estimate], generate a few millions in export dollars and cut the price of a very limited range of food items [but more likely cause increases] by a fraction of a cent per litre or kilogram .
    People in Adelaide probably don’t know that it costs a large tankful of water to make 1 litre of milk from irrigation, more water than a bucket in the shower in a family house could save in a year, just for 1 litre.Want to save a 1000 litres of Murray water?
    Drink 1 less litre of milk produced by irrigation.
    Or better still decrease production of irrigated milk by 1 litre.
    And the irrigation water is free, costs nothing.
    How much do you pay for 100,000 litres of water Dio?
    I pay nothing [when I can get it from my lagoon that is] and I have a licence to take millions.
    Most irrigation water evaporates before it gets to the crop and increases the salinity of the river which you and Mrs/Ms Dio and others are paying to get partly removed so you can drink second rate [at best] water.

    These 3 irrigation areas which constitute a small percent of the total irrigation usage in SA, between them would use more water than any one, maybe two, of the Iron Triangle towns, Whyalla/Port Augusta/ Port Pirie and those towns have a far greater economic value.

    The situation is crazy.

  33. [I spoke to a few Libs this week about Williams and they all thought he was their best chance.]

    You’d never even heard his name a couple of weeks ago *giggle*

    Definately a cleanskin tho… and looks respectable… as far as a Liberal goes anyway.

  34. I think this poll is realistic within Adelaide. The rural areas may be better for the Libs but they will never win 11 seats to claim government if they can’t regain any seats in Adelaide. On these numbers they won’t.

    It isn’t just the dodgy documents smear-backfire (funny tactical coincidence that eh?) that has MHS so low. I think his constant berating about a new stadium previously was a total waste of timwhen there were other more important issues to tackle. Having seen how much Beatty wasted on the Suncorp Stadium redevelopment in Brisbane we coudl ill afford to blow that sort of cash in SA.

    Also the SA economy is doing all right too. The last month employment actually grew. Throw in moer jobs when the stimulus projects move to the construction phase and Adelaide’s economy now is probably the most robust its been in 20 years. I don’t like Rann but I think both Foley and Conlon do a good job in their ministries.

    Frankly I blame Brumbie for the water more than anyone. The desal plant should have been started sooner but we didn’t have the cash without the Federal support. There is a real risk that we will run low on water before its finished if we get another dry year.

    However our water restrictions are still not as severe as SEQs were before their drought lifted. For that I do blame the overly populist Mike Rann. He should be acting now to restrict water usage. Take a look at what SEQ’s “Level 6” water restrictions were and people might begin to understand how serious the water problem could get.

  35. Whoa-ho-ho!!!,22606,25703010-5006301,00.html

    [LIBERAL frontbencher Mitch Williams has resigned from from the party’s Shadow Cabinet, paving the way for continued instability and a possible leadership challenge.

    Mr Williams made his shock announcement late today after panicked Liberals began counting numbers about a possible replacement for embattled Opposition Leader Martin Hamilton-Smith.

    He described Mr Hamilton-Smith’s leadership as “untenable”, as he was unable to sell the party’s message.

    “Unfortunately I think our leader has put himself in a position where it is untenable for him to sell that message and I have told him that,” he said.

    “Having done that I think the only honourable thing for me to do is to remove myself from the frontbench.”

    Mr Williams, who had been unable to speak with his leader before his announcement, said he would not force a leadership spill but said he would be a contender for the leadership if any vacancy occurred.

    But Mr Hamilton-Smith said he was not a quitter.

    “All MPs should put the interests of their constituents first and the party second and individual ambitions last,” Mr Hamilton-Smith told reporters.

    “They need to get their priorities right and MPs will be in good stead.”

    A spokesman for Mr Hamilton-Smith said the Opposition leader was “disappointed” with Mr Williams’ resignation, but said he had no other option.

    There can be no challenge before Friday at the earliest.

    Not only does there have to be six MPs willing to sign a document calling for the meeting, there must be three clear days between the notification and the holding of the meeting.

    Liberal sources said yesterday they were “fighting for the very survival of the Liberal Party brand”.

    “We are rooted in this state,” one source said.

    Premier Mike Rann on his Twitter site said federal Liberals were “involved in backdoor Marty destabilisation”.

    “Libs leaking,” he said. “They say those inside and outside the party who created Marty will now tear him down. There will be strategically timed polls.”]

    I see they’re still going with the 63-37 statewide thing though…:

    [The poll showed a two-party preferred vote of 64-36 per cent in favour of Labor which represents an 8 per cent swing since the 2006 election.

    If this were to occur in 2010, the Liberals would be left with only six MPs in the Lower House.]

  36. bob

    Rann sounds like he’s got some good gossip there. That “strategically timed polls” sounds very ugly.

    I gather Pyne is in the Chapman corner. Dunno about Dolly and Minchin.

    That’s the first thing I’ve heard Williams say and he’s done the right thing. Let’s hope he’s better than MHS, which wouldn’t be hard.

  37. [I gather Pyne is in the Chapman corner. Dunno about Dolly and Minchin.]

    As if anyone would be stupid enough to be in the Chapman corner. What a disaster waiting to happen she is.

    I can’t believe the number of people who are saying dolly should lead the party. I mean seriously, this is the guy who couldnt even lead the federal Libs for a year, with gaffe after gaffe after gaffe. The guy is a walking joke. It makes one wonder, with comments like that, that they actually enjoy being in opposition? Or are they so deluded that they actually believe it…?

  38. [strategically timed polls]

    To me, it actually sounded like Rann said those who created MHS will tear him down with strategically timed polls…

  39. So it’s still quite feasible for MHS to remain leader up to the election.

    And to think that the 2006 election was the best Labor was capable of doing… lol.

  40. Two observations.

    First. We get this:

    [Mr Hamilton-Smith spent more than two hours trying to verify an Adelaide Now report that front bencher Mitch Williams was mounting a leadership bid]

    Then we get this:

    [Mr Williams, who had been unable to speak with his leader before his announcement, said he would not force a leadership spill ]


    Second. MHS says this:

    [“All MPs should put the interests of their constituents first and the party second and individual ambitions last,” Mr Hamilton-Smith told reporters.]

    I seem to recall MHS attempting to challenge Kerin prior to the 2006 election. He went to challenge Kerin in October 2005, with the July-September Newspoll giving Labor 54%. The latest Newspoll, January-March, gives Labor 56% – and that’s before dodgygate. MHS seems a tad hypocritical if you ask me.

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