Essential Research: 56-44

The latest weekly Essential Research survey has Labor’s two-party lead down from 57-43 to 56-44. Also featured are questions on carbon emission targets (evenly divided between 80 per cent by 2050 and 60 per cent), the state of the economy in face of the global slowdown (worst believed to be over), whether Australian companies “should accept the laws and justice systems of those countries even if they are very different from our own” (yes), the government’s handling of the Stern Hu issue (somewhat favourable), whether the Prime Minister’s experience with China will help govenrment in dealing with the issue (no), and the ban on climbing Uluru (opposed). Elsewhere:

• Put a mark around Friday in your diaries as the day the Australian Electoral Commission is due to publish proposed boundaries for the federal redistribution in Queensland, which is gaining a thirtieth seat.

• Dennis Jensen, the Liberal member for Tangney, has been defeated in the local preselection vote by Glenn Piggott, from a field that also included Alcoa government relations manager Libby Lyons. The West Australian reports that Piggott won on the first round with the support of 20 branch delegates against 10 for Jensen and eight for “spoiler candidate” Libby Lyons (who unlike Piggott lives not locally but in the western suburbs, having earlier tried her hand at the state preselection for Nedlands). There is still the possibility that the result will be overturned by the party’s State Council on Saturday, as it was before the 2007 election when Jensen was initially defeated by Matt Brown. However, The West Australian report baldly states that Jensen “appears certain to lose his seat”. The only facts that gan be gleaned about Piggott from this remove is that he is a 52-year-old finance manager with Toyota.

• Another weekend preselection challenge proved to be a non-event when AMWU official and Geelong councillor Andy Richards withdrew from his tilt against Maria Vamvakinou in the safe Labor Melbourne seat of Calwell. Richards has attracted his fair share of critics: AMWU colleague Ian Jones launched a colourful spray quoted at length in The Australian, describing him as “dead wood” and “unsuitable for public office”, while federal MP Darren Cheeseman (whose electorate of Corangamite partly coincides with his council turf) made no effort to spare Richards’ feelings in a letter to Calwell preselectors. Beyond that, one can surmise that Richards’ withdrawal was influenced by peace deals between rival sub-factions of the Right, one of which was threatening to back Richards in defiance of a “stability pact” protecting the candidates of Left powerbroker Senator Kim Carr, among them Vamvakinou. Andrew Landeryou at vexNews reported last week that two state preselection challenges had been shelved under similar circumstances: Darebin councillor Tim Laurence dropped his bid to topple incumbent Steve Herbert in Eltham, and Fiona Richardson was spared a seemingly derisory challenge in Northcote from Kathleen Matthews-Ward, a Moreland councillor reportedly associated with the Right faction Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association.

Andrew Landeryou also reports that the state Liberal member for Sandringham, Murray Thompson, faces a preselection challenge from Margaret Fitzherbert. They are respectively said to be associated with the Peter Costello and Ted Baillieu factions.

• The Maribyrnong Leader reports youth worker Les Twentyman, who contested last year’s contentious Kororoit by-election, denies reports he will run against Labor member Marsha Thomson in Footscray, but says he will “look at” the possibility of running in an unspecified electorate if his health improves (he is “still recovering from surgery complications which threatened his life”).

• In case you missed it, George Megalogenis of The Australian provided the authoritative word last week on what an increased Labor majority at the next election might look like. Money quote:

Of the top 50 seats for tradesmen, 23 are marginal: 14 Liberal and nine Labor. A number of blue-collar Liberal seats proved hard to shift at the 2007 election, including Bowman and Herbert in Queensland, McEwen and La Trobe in Victoria and Macarthur and Paterson in NSW. All but Paterson had been solid Labor seats in the 1980s, swung to the Coalition in the 1990s because of the fallout from the last recession, and remained rusted on to the Howard government throughout the nation’s longest boom.

• I’ve added a thorough update to my ongoing post on Tasmania’s Pembroke upper house by-election.

• Another entry to the to-do list: a South Australian government proposal to reform the upper house through an end to staggered eight-year terms and a populist cut in numbers to below the point of effectiveness. This could be put to the voters at a referendum coinciding with the state election next March. However, legislation initiating the referendum will first have to pass the upper house itself.

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.

1,426 comments on “Essential Research: 56-44”

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  1. [Jevons Paradox suggests that it not what will happen.]
    How does this apply? The ETS isn’t a new technology.

    Currently the cost of electricity is determined by the cost of coal or gas, the cost to run and maintain the power plant, plus a profit margin for the generator.

    The ETS adds another cost – the cost of polluting the environment with CO2.

    If the rate of electricity consumption continues increasing at the same amount, then the cost of electricity will increase quickly as power companies are forced to buy new permits.

    On the other hand, if electricity consumers voluntarily make their houses and businesses more efficient, then they won’t need to pay as much for electricity, and power companies won’t need to buy as many permits, which will slow the increase in the price of electricity. No one has yet explained to me why this isn’t the case, after all, it is how the ETS is designed to operate.

    I am not saying the government shouldn’t also have additional programmes to encourage homes and businesses to increase the efficiency of their homes (like installing insulation), but the actual driver of change is the ETS itself.

    Or are you proposing that the government should give people carbon permits if they spend money making their homes and businesses more energy efficient? Then they can go to the market and sell these permits? I’m not sure that is a good idea, because the government wants to slowly reduce the number of permits in order to increase their value. If they give away free permits, then the cost of them won’t increase.

  2. Barnaby Joyce must be auditioning for a job as a comedien after he leaves politics.

    [CARNIVORES beware. Barnaby Joyce says the government’s emissions trading scheme could lead to the advent of the $150 beef roast. His sometime nemesis Bill Heffernan agrees, saying real issues of food security are at stake.]

    [“You just won’t have a beef industry,” he said. “You’re relying on the importation of beef. Just think of an absolutely ludicrous price for a roast. A good cut … is probably going to cost up to $150.” He laughed at suggestions Australians abandon beef for low-emitting kangaroo: “I’ve got no problems eating roos. I’ve got a bit of a problem mustering them.”],25197,25826906-5013404,00.html

  3. SO

    If people take voluntary actions which reduce their need for electricity, the coal plant can buy less permits and so the price of electricity drops, as you said. Because the price of electricity is now cheaper, people use more which negates the effect of the voluntary action.

    When Traer, Iowa gave out 18,000 compact fluorescent globes the towns electricity use went up by 8% because they used them for longer. It’s an interesting phenomenon.

    Bet you never thought I’d link the Weekly Standard!

  4. [If people take voluntary actions which reduce their need for electricity, the coal plant can buy less permits and so the price of electricity drops, as you said. Because the price of electricity is now cheaper, people use more which negates the effect of the voluntary action.]
    Can’t you see the contradiction in this? First you say that the cost of electricity won’t rise because people won’t use as much thanks to efficiency measures, but then you say that the (relatively low) price will just encourage higher consumption. This is wrong, if people start using more power because it is cheap, that will simply force the power company to buy more permits the following year. They will then pass this cost through to the consumer, which means power prices rise.

    If consumers want the price of electricity to rise slowly, then they will voluntarily make their homes more efficient so that their power company doesn’t need to buy as many permits. If consumers do nothing, then the price of electricity will rise much faster because power companies will need more permits.

    If people replace 10 light bulbs in their home with 20 light bulbs that use half as much power, they won’t save any power, but they will be moving money away from companies that make old inefficient light bulbs and towards companies that make efficient light bulbs, which is again, is what the ETS is designed to do.
    [When Traer, Iowa gave out 18,000 compact fluorescent globes the towns electricity use went up by 8% because they used them for longer. It’s an interesting phenomenon.]
    If this happened with an ETS in operation, the power bills they paid the following year would increase because the increased consumption would force power companies to buy more permits (I am assuming they use CO2 producing power sources).

    If you are worried that energy efficient technologies will lead to increased power consumption, why do you want to reward people for installing energy efficient technologies? Wouldn’t you instead want them to stick with their old energy inefficient technologies so that they quickly force up the cost of permits?

  5. SO

    [Wouldn’t you instead want them to stick with their old energy inefficient technologies so that they quickly force up the cost of permits?]

    The current scheme (ignoring the “surreal” Hill thingie) seems to encourage just that. What we want is a mechanism where conserving energy on an individual basis doesn’t make electricity cheaper (or even better makes carbon MORE expensive).

    I agree the whole thing is highly paradoxical and the economics is stretching the fairly slender rubber band of my knowledge to breaking point.

  6. Ruawake 1377

    Thanks; I hadn’t been aware that Bob Brown had already raised Tony Burke’s spruiking of Gunn’s PR material.

    To answer your question the job effects of Gunn’s project are a matter of some controversy. Burke was accurately parrotting Gunn’s claim. But Gunn’s job claim has been heavily criticised by reviewers like NIEIE’s Dr Peter Brain. The job claim assumes all Gunn’s market and economic forecasts will come true, hence it is a circular argument. It counts both direct and assumed indirect jobs. It also doesn’t consider job losses in the Tamar valley from industries harmed by the timber mill. Gunn;s claim is a bit like Howard’s job claims about the free trade agreement with the USA – make overoptimistic assumptions, and don’t count the losses, and it looks great. Pure rubbish of course.

    Brain suggests a range of possible outcomes, all much less flattering, including a possible net loss of jobs if tourism is discouraged. The fact is, timber isn’t a very labor intensive industry, so its not a great job creator.

  7. [The current scheme (ignoring the “surreal” Hill thingie) seems to encourage just that.]
    How? You haven’t come close to explaining to me how the proposed ETS will encourage people to increase electricity consumption. If it did, why is the power generation industry asking the government for $20 billion worth of hand outs? If they don’t get that cash from the government, they will pass that cost on to the consumer, that is how and why the price of electricity will rise.

    The big contradiction in Turnbull’s plan is that he wants power companies compensated so they don’t have to pass on their permit cost to the consumer!
    [What we want is a mechanism where conserving energy on an individual basis doesn’t make electricity cheaper (or even better makes carbon MORE expensive).]
    It will only make it cheaper in relative terms, electricity under the ETS will be immediately more expensive than it is now, because generators and retailers will pass the cost of permits straight through to the consumer.

    Energy efficiency measures won’t stop this increase, all it it can do is SLOW the rate of increase. If the price of electricity remained the same in real terms, then no company would bother generating electricity because it would be impossible to make continue making a profit from it, especially when they must turn to more expensive alternatives like renewables.

    Our days of cheap electricity generated without accounting for the cost of CO2 pollution are over, the only price of electricity from here is UP, well beyond just CPI increaes. Under the ETS, if people reduce consumption, then the increase will be relatively SLOW, if people continue increasing consumption at the same rate, then the cost will increase much faster. Even including a 10% increase in efficiency, our electricity consumption is expected to double by 2050.
    [I agree the whole thing is highly paradoxical and the economics is stretching the fairly slender rubber band of my knowledge to breaking point.]
    Is it really paradoxical? Currently there are 3 costs to the power generator, raw material (e.g. coal) cost to run and maintain the plant, cost of water pollution (for cooling), the government is just adding another cost – CO2 production. Do you really think generators will just absorb that cost? I just don’t believe that, they will add their permit cost to the price they sell electricity to the distributor, which will add it to the cost to the retailer, which will add it to the consumer.

  8. SO

    [You haven’t come close to explaining to me how the proposed ETS will encourage people to increase electricity consumption.]

    I’m not saying that. I’m saying that it doesn’t encourage people to decrease consumption enough.

    [Is it really paradoxical?]

    Jevons paradox is really a paradox! 😉

  9. [I’m not saying that. I’m saying that it doesn’t encourage people to decrease consumption enough.]
    Perhaps not an an individual level, but at a collective level it does.

    I do agree with you that the government should do other things to encourage efficiency, but the most important thing is the ETS itself.
    [Jevons paradox is really a paradox!]
    It’s not a paradox if you add to it that increasing consumption increases cost. The paradox breaks down if you do that.

  10. Gotta laugh

    Just watching cnbc squarkbox on foxtel – stockmarket show – out of US. They were interviewing Sol – formerly of telstra.

    He can across as his normal greasy spiv self. Interestingly his fellow yanks were looking at him in exactly this way – very dubiously. They tried to bait him, “Our producers out of Sydney want you to repeat your attacks on the aussie government”.

    He wouldn’t, didn’t – tried to make make himself out as the guru of “wireless’ but the cnbc mob didn’t seem impressed. Sol trying to big note himself falling flat.

    Still think the chasers skit on him was one of their best,

  11. The lady prosecuting Mr Theodophanopos looks remarkably like a member of the shadow ministerm in the federal parliament; or am I mistaken?

  12. There you are, right on cue. Another off the shelf, this time with a slight variation. It’s a Taiwan chinese Businessman. No wonder Rudd is in trouble with Beijing because former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian is an arch enemy of Beijing and champion of Taiwan independence.

    Unfortunately, former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian and the whole family, wife, son etc, are currently on trial for corruption in Taiwan.

    So it is even steven, both Beijing and Taipeh are one evil empire. This will make Beijing very happy indeed. A Cross Strait Unity ticket.

    [Liberal Deputy Leader and foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said yesterday Mr Rudd’s acceptance of sponsorship from Chinese and Taiwanese business interests of numerous overseas trips while he was an opposition frontbencher raised “serious questions about his judgment”.

    The Age reported yesterday that a Taiwanese-born businessman based in Brisbane paid Mr Rudd’s business class fare to London and had donated $220,000 to the Australian Labor Party.

    Kung Chin Yuan, a long-standing friend of former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian, flew Mr Rudd to London for two weeks in June and July of 2005 when Mr Rudd was Labor’s shadow foreign minister.]

    Btw: Is there any mention of Mr. Kung Chin Yuan being an Australian citizen?

  13. In the end, the winners in the political game are always politics, power and holding on to one’s seat: The Liberals’ new position of the CC bill:
    if the Prime Minister is determined to force an earlier vote, then the Coalition is prepared to consider supporting the bill and sets out the design principles the coalition wants addressed.
    Mr Turnbull acknowledges it may take time to address the issues and if the Government insists the Senate vote on the current scheme, the Coalition will oppose the legislation.

    But he says if the Government agrees to the changes he will seek and is confident of obtaining the Coalition’s support for the amended scheme.

    For “the” changes read “some” changes. To any hint of “backbone” read “in August, but not November”. They’ll get at least some of their changes as a trade for passing it and the budget.

    I’d back the government’ including all the natural carbon sequestration dot points in the Opposition’s policy & at least some of the compensation & job support ones – indeed, all the positives that enhance the government’s standing with ACF, “green farming” groups, reafforestation & “reverse desertification” groups.

    If the Coalition agrees to pass the government’s money bills, both majors will effectively sideline Greens + Nick X + Fielding. If the government agrees before the Parliament reconvenes, this Bill & any post-Copenhagen fine tuning will go through 14 – 19/20 months before the next election. Copenhagen’s dust will have settled. Rudd emerges as the CC champion with Turnbull as his side-kick. Fait accompli.

    Only political idiots deal themselves out of the main game. As Good Old comic hero Charlie Brown was given to say: Winning isn’t everything but losing isn’t anything.

  14. Michelle Grattan and Adam Morton list the Opposition’s CC “shopping list”, and includes AIG & some green groups’ reactions @

    In other news: Fairfax scored Rudd’s latest 6,000+ word essay Pain on the road to recovery (Suck it up, NewsLtd!)

    Annabel Crab Ruddbot is doing everyone’s job for them does an interesting job on Rudd’s work habits, but only as an undersong to the job she does on Hartigan’s rant & NewsLtd hacks.

    But to those who’ve been through water-starved SE Qld’s restrictions & the staggering cost of the Water Grid, The Age ad for the Victorian Government’s Target 144’s water saving really caught my attention. 144, you wussy Mexicans! 1blo#dy44 That’s not a water saving; that’s a water wasting with nothing much in sight except a desalinator (maybe, perhaps, one day, sort of) and stealing more water out of the Murray – while joining demands that QLD bulk-cancels western QLD water licences so SA gets more water!

    Where I live, the limit’s still 100 with no end in sight unless we have a Summer deluge – and 40 days & 40 nights is about what we need. Currently the area average water usage is c95. Bite the water saving bullet, you vacillating Victorian Wusses!

  15. Boerwar

    You’ll notice in the comments that Martin “Clean Coal” Ferguson is savaged for his grossly hypocritical stance in saying the Greens won’t accept reality on RE nit being enough and then saying we shouldn’t consider nuclear in Oz (but every other country should use it).

  16. I said this yesterday about agriculture in Truffles plan;

    [It’s all carrot and no stick for farmers but those three initiatives can allegedly help reduce net CO2 emissions and it would be better if we could use them somehow.]

    Today, Michelle Grattan went;

    [In agriculture, Mr Turnbull wants an all-carrot and no-stick approach — offsets such as increasing soil carbon would be included, but farmers would not pay for emissions from livestock and fertiliser.]

    I’m beginning to get suspicious. 👿

  17. Heh!

    Loved the OO banner outside our local newsagent this morning:


    Go get him, Malcolm!

  18. BB@ 1424 Now that’s somewhere between Canute’s ultimatum to the incoming tide & Caligula marching his army up & down the beach to find treasure (er, sea shells, according to Seutonius). Lenore Taylor’s

    MALCOLM Turnbull has sought to regain the initiative in the political tussle over emissions trading, presenting the Rudd government with a “log of claims” for immediate negotiations,25197,25832151-601,00.html

    is far saner.

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