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The water of reality
Saturday, 12 November 2005 22:10 | Written by Graham Young
Posted for Hugh Gillies In the past, humans carried on without oil, without metal, without plastic, without coal and the myriad other bits and pieces modern civilisation regards as the necessities of life. A little bit uncomfortable at times, no doubt, but still humans did exist and 'progress' on to arguably 'greater' things. Life, however, has never done without two elements, and if you guessed O and H2O, then you are spot on. And yet, strangely enough, these are the elements man is doing his best to stuff up the quality of, in the case of oxygen, and eliminate in the case of water. But both are taken for granted, and there seem to be quite a few around who think that there are vast bottomless, ever-supplying wells of H2O at the bottom of the Wivenhoe, Somerset and North Pine Dams. At least that's the impression that one gets when reading most of the Letters to the Editor or replies to polls on the subject of Brisbane water. Not to mention all the grandiose schemes put up by Governments without a mention as to how these schemes will come to fruition, or even be started within the given time frames, if indeed there are any, without the necessary supply of water. It will be great to pump re-used water to the power stations BUT, without rain, where is the water going to come from in the first place to re-use and pump? Will there be enough left when the mooted $20 million feasibility study for the above is completed? It will be great to have a $1.5 billion traffic tunnel in Brisbane BUT a shame there may well be nobody around to use it. Those bottomless wells are going to be working overtime for there is nowhere else for our usable water supply to come from, unless it is manufactured using the raw product which is readily available, the sea. If any indication is given as to the lack of realisation of the parlous state our area is entering into it is the undeniable impression given by, not only the 'decision makers', but the general public, that there are unlimited choices available as to how to, at personal convenience, conserve and re-use water, and that there is plenty of time to sit back and argue over, discuss the pros and cons of, and then form innumerable committees to report back to 'them' who will produce innumerable papers of different colours to be used as toilet paper as the last water closet gasps its last flush and the earth closet comes back into its own. I have written in an article entitled "Queensland – the State of Denial" that: "I believe that an immediate start on the solving of the Brisbane and environs water crisis can be best, indeed only, be brought about by the bipartisan appointment of a suitable a-political, independent person who would be given over-riding authority to co-opt, co-ordinate and direct all resources and policies necessary to put our water supply on a sound and sustainable footing." That this is the only way to go is backed up presently by the poor spectacle of various Councils squabbling as to what will be THEIR watering hours 2 and, predictably, upon the announcement of the re-used water pipe-line to the power stations, the cry from the Lockyer of "What about the farmers!!?" Leadership and authority has to be established. Personal inconveniences and perceived hardships have to be endured and overcome because when survival may become the name of the game, little else matters. WATER OF LUXURY is water in abundance, the product of benevolent Gods and overflowing clouds, of everlasting wells and bores and bountiful aquifers. It is doubtful, given the lemming-like rush to concentrated dense population, that our cities and their environs will ever wallow again in water of luxury. We will come to accept that WATER OF REALITY has become the normal way of life, whereby we will all have to make personal sacrifices of water usage, inconvenient or distressing as they may be, for our society and the maintenance of our water supplies. A plentiful supply of water must be achieved and maintained at all cost, even to the extent of the population of an area being limited to the ability of the area to supply its population. To use an Australian bush analogy; the number of sheep or cattle you can run on a property is governed by the amount of water you can supply to sustain them at any given time. AT ALL COST. A phrase to raise the hackles of the bean counters, all those who see everything in economic terms, they of the tunnel (that word again) vision. There are those who talk of more dams as a panacea for all our water problems. Dams are great for they not only can conserve water for many life-sustaining purposes but can provide venues for many forms of relaxation. They are great when they are built and when they are full, which means, in the present Brisbane and environs context, they are long-term projects. You just don't plonk a dam wall down and think you are going to fill an area a couple of times the size of Sydney Harbour with water overnight. It may take months, even years to fill after construction. Who knows? And they do cost money. However it is not the money cost that is the major disincentive for dam construction. It is the cost of time and, in the present Brisbane and environs context, time is something that cannot be afforded. DESALINATION of sea-water for domestic and commercial use is practised in many diverse areas, including North America, for example Key West, the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and Kangaroo Island in South Australia. The recent Carr Labor Government in N S W gave the go-ahead for the construction of a plant to service the needs of Sydney. The Brisbane City Council has stated in a glossy brochure that "Desalination has the potential to provide the region with a more constant and reliable water supply, particularly in drought conditions." Unfortunately, vacuous words. For a city such as Brisbane the establishment of a desalination plant would have a large plus going for it. The raw product required to be treated is right on its doorstep in an unlimited quantity. Another plus would be that, unlike a dam, which upon completion may not immediately store sufficient water, a desalination plant, when completed, would produce useable water immediately. For every argument for the establishment of a desalination plant there will always be one against. However, in arguing for or against, the end consequence of a decision is the key factor in the discussion. Taking into consideration the many factors involved in siting a plant, plus ecological and aesthetic aspects, power requirements and any other one of a number of aspects that could be seen to disturb and upset the status quo of an area, and let us not forget cost, one must ask what will be the consequences if these aspects can over-ride the establishment of a plant. The consequences will be stark and simple if there is a reliance on sufficient rains falling in the catchment areas within a relatively short period and it does not come. Regardless of conservation programmes. re-cycling, etc., which are feel-good-stop-gap measures at best, water supplies WILL continue to diminish and the Brisbane region WILL run dry. Given that most other centres of any significant and substantial size are going through the same water shortage as Brisbane, and therefore that outside replenishment is not possible, and given the population of the Brisbane area and the fact that it would be logistically impossible to bring in sufficient water if it were available, the end result, as far as human life is concerned (forget about the animals), would far exceed any anticipated terror attacks and may well be in the same league as an avian 'flu pandemic. One can only hope against hope this does not happen, OR IS ALLOWED TO HAPPEN. So what of cost? At all cost? I feel the answer is very simple; there can be no consideration of cost. The Shoaiba Desalination Plant in Saudi Arabia, one of the, if not the largest in the world, has an annual output of 150 million cubic metres of water (I cubic metre=1 000 litres) at an estimated total project cost of $(US)1.06 billion. Kerry Packer could handle this on his own, and the Australian Government hands out amounts like this in overseas aid, no problem, plus the Queensland Government when talking of tunnels, stadiums, bridges and the health of the people and itself etc. To those whose world revolves around costs and economic viability I would ask: HOW MUCH IS A LITRE OF WATER WORTH IF YOUR HOUSE IS BURNING DOWN, "HOW MUCH IS A LITRE OF WATER WORTH IF YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN ARE DYING OF THIRST?" Unfortunately. I feel that time for Brisbane has been allowed to run out. Hugh V Gillies Brisbane October 2005
Summary of on air analysis today
Thursday, 03 November 2005 00:13 | Written by Graham Young
1. Total of 277 responses - good response rate for one day 2. Sample slanted to the left. Greens on 10% of the vote, Labor 36%, Liberal 17% and National 7%. 3. Beattie only scores a C-. 52% of Labor voters give him a A or a B, while 25% give him a D or E. Not much room for change as less than 1% haven’t made up their mind. 4. Anna Bligh also a C-. 49% of Labor voters give her an A or B. Only 18% give D or E. Across the whole sample 14% have yet to make up their minds about her. 5. Springborg also on a C-. All National voters score him C or above. 61% of Nats score him A or B, but only 36% of Liberals. Only 2% have yet to make up their minds. 6. Jeff Seeney is a D- student. Only saving grace is that 30% have yet to make up their mind. Labor and Greens voters really hate him, much more than Spingborg. 7. Bob Quinn is a D+ student. 8% haven’t made up their minds. 32% of Liberals give him a D or an E - slightly worse than Beattie. Nationals like him slightly better than Libs. Suffers a bit from the skew in our sample. 8. Bruce Flegg is also a D+. Biggest potential is that 28% of people have yet to make up their mind. Liberals like him much more than Bob Quinn – 62% give him an A or B, compared to 20% who give that score to Quinn. A balanced sample would probably put Flegg level pegging with Bligh and Beattie and Springborg.

Beattie Qual

Beattie’s qual says that even his supporters are not that enthusiastic, suggesting that his marks might sag. This marker who scored him an A said: "Peter, you are an "A" class leader in a "E" class government. The level of errors, mis-calculations, backflips, inaction in vital areas is amazing and you just keep on sayiong "sorry, I'll fix it". Your government are clearly inept but you are an "A" for "Ass"." Supportive "A"s said things like: "He's good at receiving criticism, in a non defensive manner (unlike many other leaders in the past), and seems genuine in wanting to fix things, but doeshe???? Not really" Or, more supportively: "There are those that do & those who complain. Beattie is a doer. He has the guts to stand & face all the complainers & come up with good workable solutions. Anyone can complain, but very few can come up with solutions." Some supporters realize he has to sabotage his competitors in class to do well: "Good performance over a rough year but allowed too much leeway to an opposition more interested in scoring cheap political points than in proposing serious alternatives for Queensland. Minus points for allowing his feathers to ruffle mid year." While others can sense a conspiracy: "Doing reasonably well in the face of a concerted and well-organised political campaign by the Murdoch press and associated television stations (especially 10) which began around the time the last election was called. Has received some poor advice on political strategy." Others can just see show biz: "Showed great promise at the beginning of term, but has lost substance of late. His listening skills are good, but needs to curb his acrobatic tendencies and realise, that while Parliament is a bit of a circus, he is the ringmaster, not the clown. Peter needs to revise his history, remember the lessons he learnt in the past and not allow himself to be influenced by bully boys past or present." When you get to C territory, which is where the average score him, there is a lot of realism about his skills, and understanding of his strategies: "I think Patel was the knock out blow, ever since Peter became Premier, we have become acustom to him regularly talking himself out of suitutions, or back fliping on issues and we have continued to be very forgiving, the big smile hand on heart stuff, this time he has been rattled, and it just seems very hard for him to get back on top, however I wouldn't write him off just yet." Critics are hovering amongst the "D"s and "E"s. "He has presided ver a government for a number of years now, & over the last couple, we have seen major issues such as power, health & a severe lack of infrastucture to support our booming state economy show that the early popular years of his government came down to his personality & not the talent, forsight & accountablity of his government. The have become far too reactive & not pro-active in their approach to this state." "Too many mistakes glossed over. His decision to allow more poker machines in the state is morrally corrupt. Has very few ministers who have any real ability. Appointed McGrady as Speaker of the House who is an out and out bully." "Blundering from crsis to crisis, blaming others (including the public) and generally treating us all like fools. Note the particularly repugnant comment of his when relaseing th e'mini budget': "We didn't consider our politcal hides here"! When a politcian looks you in the eye and says he didn't consider his polital hide you know he's lying and that his hide is all he's considering."


"Your example above sounds like "push-polling" to me. I don't wish to contribute." "Award for Pulling Out Before It's Too Late. Terry ( Show me the money) Macinroth." "The Lathered-up, Irate and Angry AWARD to laurence Springborg for greatest performance in turning political work of Labor politicians into disgusting unscrupulous corrupt behaviour." "Peter allan Liza Minelli award for marriages of convenience goes to Bob and laurie for smiling through the pain. You could subistute any other marriage of convenience subject to legal advise, wouldnt want to defame anyone." "Mea Culpa Award to Peter Beattie, it's always his fault. Mirror Award to Peter Beattie again, there's always something to be looked into. Best Supporting cast for remainder of State Parliament, whomever they may be... Vince Lester Trophy to , you guessed it, Peter Beattie, although not technically walking backwards, he has made an unceasing number of about-faces. The His Name's on the Tip of My tongue Award to Lawrence Springborg, who can't remember who his own members are." "Bob Quinn for the Zombie (dead man walking) Award. Peter Beattie for Diving-best back flips in the business. Machiavellian Award to Michael Caltabiana offering his full support to Bob Quinn." There are a few crawlers! :-) "How could I possibly top your example???" "Gordon Nuttall for the best buttonholer of the year. He has demonstarted satorail elegance but noithing else. Gordon Nuttall for the Carmen Lawrence Parliamentary Inquiries I Have No Recollection Of That Award. Peter Beattie for the Dodgy Brothers Used Car Dealers Award of the Year for the Dodgy (Brothers) Car Salesman You Admire Most Or Who You Would Like to Emulate" Too many backflips. "BEST IMPERSONATION - Lawrence Springborg - In reality a fence-post, Lawrence Springborg carries into politics all the steadfastness and solidity of the iron-bark post he is. His stolidity is a result of being firmly rammed in the soil, a National trait, and his lack of breadth of vision is the result of, naturally, being a product of the soil who is wired to his other fence-post mates and definitely always in line. WORST IMPERSONATOR - Gordon Nuttall - As Primary Industries Minister with a boutonniere, what more can one say. Indeed, what more needs to be said." "Bob Quinn - Best face in the parliament. For never changing his expression in spite of what is going on around him. He could win the lottery and that expression would not change."
Water and light results
Friday, 21 October 2005 01:50 | Written by Graham Young
The votes are in, and the winners are recycling household water and domestic water tanks. The losers are fluoride and recycling sewage for drinking. A trial of a zonal daylight saving system also looks well-supported. The sample we analysed was of 491 respondents, but we received some more responses after the analysis, making the total sample 544. This is quite sufficient to produce accurate figures for a range of sub-groups, including party supporters, genders, and most age groupings. The research shows that as far as the public is concerned, fluoridation is a marginal exercise, with 45% in favour and 43% against. However, Liberal voters are quite favourable, and Greens and Nationals most opposed, giving it potential as a wedge. The most popular water supply solutions are recycling of household water for gardens and industry and household rainwater tanks. Dams came in ahead of desalination. There is good support for trial of a zonal daylight saving system with the only group opposed being Nationals. The following are the major points from the research:
  • Sample almost evenly balanced between male and female, and left leaning, as usual, but with a reasonable balance between the Coalition parties and Labor.
  • A zonal daylight saving system is a goer – 57% support with only 33% opposed.
  • Strongest support for zonal daylight saving amongst Liberal Party voters (72%) and Labor voters (64%). Only group opposed is Nationals (62% against). Undecideds are equivocal (43% for 44% against). Could be a difficult issue for the Liberals. If they push hard on it they could alienate Nationals, and it won’t resonate with undecideds, even though their supporters like the idea.
  • Fluoridation is supported by only 45% of the survey, and 43% are opposed. This is a dangerous issue for the Premier to be running on.
  • There is a sharp divergence between male and female views. 51% of men support, while only 39% of women do.
  • Liberal Party supporters are most in favour (64%), followed by Labor voters (52%). Nationals are equivocal (41% in favour, 34% against, and 24% neutral or no opinion). Greens are solidly opposed (56% against). Good wedge for Beattie to throw into the Coalition vote, but will it lose him support on the left.
  • Water questions demonstrate why there possibly isn’t enough water to go around. Dams are not well-supported, while various water conservation measures are, but we haven’t been doing either. Only 60% approve of building new dams. This compares with 57% for a desalination plant, 88% for water restrictions, 94% for home water tanks, and 96% for recycling for garden and industry. There was not much support for drinking treated sewage, with only 47% support. 35% disapproved. Greens voters were the most accepting 68%. At the other end Greens were most likely to disapprove of dams (only 21% in favour).
  • Conclusion – governments should forget about dams and desalination and do the sums on the cost of tanks and recycling.
    Daylight saving feedback
    Tuesday, 11 October 2005 01:53 | Written by Graham Young

    We haven't made any allowance for qualitative responses on our most recent polls - that's because of time constraints - but that doesn't mean that we aren't receiving some. Philip Orr writes:

    Dear Graham, I have responeded to your current questionaire regarding Daylight saving but was disappointed to find just a single question. While I wholeheartedly support Daylight Saving, I don't support split time zones but have had to answer in favour. [Note: We've only allowed for that option because that is the only active proposal at the moment. GY] Specifically:- That Queensland doesn't have DS is ridiculous. Even with daylight saving, the sun would set on Queensland's North-West earlier than it does in the South-West of NSW WITHOUT daylight saving. I hear people say it doesn't work in Queensland but they cannot provide a LOGICAL reason to explain why it works in other States but doesn't work here. That Qld is hot is not in question, but it is NO HOTTER than other parts of the country (eg inland western NSW) where daylight saving works very well and people have become adjusted to it. For a State that relies so heavily on tourism and in particular activities that make use of daylight hours, we should be doing everything we can to increase the amount of sunshine people can use each day. Currently the working day is biased too much to the end of daylight hours preventing people from making good use of after work time for leisure. Offsetting Qld's time by 1 hour actually reduces business contact time with southern states by 4 hours every day. Why? Because Southern states start an hour earlier (1 hour lost), they go to lunch an hour earlier (1 hour lost), return from lunch as Qld is going to lunch (1 hour lost) and finish work 1 hour earlier (1 hour lost) -total contact time lost is therefore 4 hours! The National Party claim Queenslanders have already had their say in a referendum and we don't need another one. Well, as a new Queenslander, I haven't had my say and if its good enough for Republicans to start talking about a new referendum just a few years after the previous one, its certainly good enough for the people of Queensland to be given another say DECADES after the previous one. I don't understand why the Liberal and Labor partied don't just do it and make it a fait accompli. They both have DS as a policy and as far as DS is concerned, the National Party could essentially be made irrelevant on the issue!
    Queensland - The State of Denial
    Monday, 10 October 2005 22:39 | Written by Graham Young

    This is posted for Hugh Gillies. QUEENSLAND - THE STATE OF DENIAL One can only draw the conclusion that all levels of Queensland Government, the Opposition and the print and electronic media in Queensland are in a state of denial, a state of denial which could be put down to a combination of an adherence to the Cargo Cult faith and a mistaken belief in the ostrich principle. To paraphrase, in the Brisbane context, the 'Cargo Cult' is

    A religious movement of the S.W. Pacific, characterized by the expectation of the return of spirits in clouds carrying water that will provide for the needs of the followers.

    At all levels of Government in Queensland, together with Opposition Parties, there seems to be an air of unreality pervading the halls of power in the face of what may well be the upcoming decimation of a city and its people that, in turn, will have a deleterious effect on the Australian nation as a whole. As did those in American Government who watched the approaching hurricane, Katrina, our representatives in Government and Opposition are seemingly watching an approaching cataclysmic drought with the same academic interest shown by authorities in America to Katrina; forewarned, appalled at the thought of, un-aware of, or incapable of, envisaging the ultimate consequences, and frozen out of preventative action like a kangaroo caught in a spot-light. IN TIMES OF DIRE STRAITS. ACTUAL OR POTENTIAL most, if not all, levels of Government and Government bodies are never slow to trumpet how they, managers par excellence, have things under control, and what steps they are taking to alleviate the current dire straits, or are taking to circumvent the approaching dire straits. It is the nature of the beasts to wallow in the praise that will be heaped upon them. Don't you worry about this, or that. It's when they waffle, are strangely shy and un-communicative and reticent in their utterances that I begin to worry. TAKE WATER, FOR INSTANCE. More specifically Brisbane water, that stuff we drink and wash in and keeps us alive, and which seems to be disappearing at, at least to some, an alarming rate. No problems, we'll just build a few more roads and tunnels, not to mention copious quantities of housing, multi-story residential blocks, and the odd satellite community to keep those Mexicans coming in, and she'll be right you'll find, mate. On Monday, October 3, Brisbane water storage was at 34.7% compared to approximately 47% at the beginning of the year. Of the34.7% approximately 5% is considered 'dead water', so drinkable water is down to 29.7% Based on the period February - September, inclusive, water storage has reduced by 1.5% per month, a period including Brisbane's winter months. If this rate remains unchanged, and there is no further substantial rain in the catchment areas, the supply of potable water (assuming 'dead water' is non-drinkable) will run out in approximately 20 months, i.e. May, 2007. However, 6 months before the cut-out point, Brisbane will not be a pretty place in which to live. As of writing, Brisbane water consumption rates, as indicated by figures in the Courier-Mail, are mainly in excess of the required conservation targets. This has very serious implications as it indicates that neither a big percentage of the domestic and commercial population, nor the Brisbane City Council, view the impending drastic water shortage, nor the extreme possibility of no water, in a serious light. Premier Peter Beattie (C-M Aug 24), Lord Mayor Campbell Newman (S E Advertiser June 26) and Dr. Phillip Williams, senior lecturer, School of Environmental Engineering, Griffith U (C-M Aug 23), all acknowledged that, with insufficient rainfall, Brisbane and environs will be without sufficient water in 2 to 3 years. The preceding pronouncements further move Government action on the water crisis into the world of the bizarre when taken in conjunction with, as touched on before, the continued and un-restricted, rush into increasingly water-consuming projects, actual and projected, not all necessary, which do, and will increasingly, place an untenable strain on available water supplies and make a mockery of any conservation measures. WHY IS NOTHING BEING DONE ABOUT REPLENISHMENT? A Queensland Government Ministerial Statement dated 23 August, under the heading of "Queensland Government Takes Lead on Urban Drought" says, in part: "Modelling by the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Senior Climatologist, Dr Roger Stone, and other reputable climate models show that over the next 10 months there is a probability of 'close to average to slightly below average' rainfall." " "While we hope Dr Stone and his colleague's predictions for reasonable rainfall are correct, we cannot afford to take chances." Hope and prayers and 'average to slightly below average rainfalls' are not enough so, despite the rhetoric, why is nothing being done to implement a replenishment strategy to bring about security to the Brisbane and environs water supply? Time is a luxury that is fast running out. IT IS AN UNDENIABLE FACT THAT, WITHOUT ABOVE AVERAGE RAINFALL OCCURRING IN OUR CATCHMENT AREAS, BRISBANE WILL, FOR ALL PRACTICAL PURPOSES, RUN OUT OF SUFFICIENT WATER NECESSARY TO SUSTAIN LIFE AS WE KNOW IT WITHIN TWO TO THREE YEARS. As the water supply, and thus availability, diminishes, so does food and commercial productivity, so do tourism and many service industries. Waste disposal, sewerage disposal, and health facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes will be adversely affected. Lawns, gardens, most outdoor sporting facilities will become distant memories. MANY JOBS WILL BE LOST, an added burden upon the Federal purse. In many cases this will mean an inability to service debts, real estate values will suffer significantly, perhaps disappear. And so it will go on. Society may well become diminished to the extent that any ability to recuperate may well have passed the point of no return. The following are the projected Level 6 water restrictions proposed by the Parkes shire in rural N S W: Garden watering – Re-used water only Swimming pools private – Filling and topping up of pools prohibited Wash paved areas and roof – Banned except as required by law Washing motor vehicles private – Banned except as required by law Public gardens – Re-used water only Market gardens and orchards – With Council License only Nurseries and commercial flower gardens – With Council license only Washing motor vehicles commercial – Banned except as required by law Public car wash – Banned Car dealers (display vehicles) Banned except as required by law Bowling greens, motels, nursing homes, schools - Re-used water only Fountains – Banned Automatic cycle flush toilets – Banned Soft drink manufacturer – Banned READY MIXED CONCRETE – Banned Abattoirs – With Council license only Others – With Council license only Parkes is presently on Level 3, with $220 on-the-spot fines or water service disconnection. One can see that job losses in the Parkes Shire have occurred, as they have started to in Brisbane and will continue to occur. 4 The N S W provincial city of Goulburn has been on Level 5 restrictions since October last year, with house-hold water consumption restricted to 150 litres per person per day. Unfortunately Brisbane and environs area has a very large albatross hanging around its neck when it comes to the water crisis. It has: A State Government whose record on power and health has shown that it is totally incapable of handling anything of the magnitude of the escalating water supply crisis; State Opposition Parties who have exhibited nothing other than a harping, carping policy of criticism, with no positive, far-thinking policies of their own, certainly not on water; A City Council whose members sole interest seems to be the prevention of the enactment of any policies put up by those of the opposition Party, regardless of merit and; A plethora of conflicting Local Government, state Government and Council political parties and departments who will jealously guard and promote their own fiefdoms of power and influence, without due consideration to who is ultimately at risk. I believe that an immediate start on the solving of the Brisbane and environs water crisis can be best, indeed only, be brought about by the bipartisan appointment of a suitable a-political, independent person who would be given over-riding authority to co-opt, co-ordinate and direct all resources and policies necessary to put our water supply on a sound and sustainable footing. I believe a precedent for this type of operation was enacted for the re-building of Darwin after Cyclone Tracy. I am sure there are a number of proven people available who have demonstrated their ability to successfully undertake such a task. THE BIG QUESTION IS; At what point in time will it become too late to put in place water replenishment programmes, such as desalination plants, both from the construction time point of view and the availability of water necessary to carry out any such programme? You can't carry out major construction work without water and,you can't re-use water if you have none. .

    Latest Newspoll says budget most popular ever
    Tuesday, 17 May 2005 20:39 | Written by Graham Young
    Or that's what The Australian tells us. You can read the Newspoll summary here. We'll have some research out from our online surveys tomorrow on this issue, as well as the question of whether voters want Peter Costello or John Howard as Prime Minister.
    What the people want feedback
    Wednesday, 04 May 2005 09:03 | Written by Graham Young
    I've summarised the email feedback that we've received from listeners. There is a wide range in interests, but we do consider what you say, and as you'll see, some of the ideas will be executed. C Gilbert suggests we discuss the "rash of high-rise developments that is increasingly blighting Brisbane" and hooning in suburban streets. Ross is concerned that the federal government will sign up to any free trade agreement going, and that it is deliberately creating an impression of a shortage of people in the trades to justify importation of foreign workers. Chris Cutler is interested in roads, and in particular a Western ring road. Darryl Campbell would probably share that interest as he expresses concern that infrastructure expenditure has decreased from 4.5% of GDP to 1.5%. Anne Edwards wants to discuss the failure of the SEQ Regional Strategy to discourage car use and encourage people to grow their own food. Doris has four issues. She wants to talk about Enterprise Bargainaing "Can the people of Australia, the people who pay taxes negotiate with the Politicians. I would love to see their wages and "lurks and perks" trimmed to the bone. I can not understand how they can just give themselves a pay rise and not a merger one like we achieve in EB of 3.5%, theirs is in double digits, what for ??" She also wants lower taxes and a less complicated national superannuation system. Finally she would like teachers to be at school longer so that they could supervise children doing their "homework" at school. On the tax issue she is in general agreement with an email from Richard Ward saying tax is important. He would like to raise the tax-free threshold to $20,000 to help the welfare to work transition. Rosina Gordon wanted abortion discussed as an issue, as well as the work/family balance. (We haven't obliged yet on either on the show, but On Line Opinion's current feature takes up her suggestion about work and family. Marylin is also interested in work/family balance and wonders whether parents "would rather work or not work provided they received a real value Family Allowance/Parenting Allowance?" Politicians should have more passion, according to Grant Carrey. Older listeners with children, or younger listeners with older parents, could be interested in an issue that Thomas Logan raises - the relationship between elderly parents and their offspring. "Why run large surpluses when services are running down?" is the proposition put by Michelle Piele. Sounds like a budget question, and On Line Opinion will be running a budget questionnaire with Springboard Australia immediately after the treasurer delivers his statement. Fred Scholten wants a concentration on health, and with this week's questionnaire, we agree with him. We received some really interesting proposals from Amanda Tyler who had a number of ideas for quantitative polling on education issues. Meanwhile Leiv Bornecrantz has major concerns with the whole WTPW process, and presumably the analysts. He writes: "Dear Graham Young, in my opinion, these type of surveys are meaningless unless performed by someone trained in the methodology and with some mathemathical education. Questions should have 1-10 responses and be analysed with reference to the standard deviation and a +- error rate. As the sample is not random, it is heavily skewed to start with. kind of regards." Ouch!
    Latest Newspoll shows trend towards Labor
    Tuesday, 05 April 2005 21:40 | Written by Graham Young
    Newspoll's latest poll is of 1145 people and puts its accuracy at plus or minus 3%. So when it shows a swing towards Labor of 3.8% one should be cautious. However, there are grounds for thinking there might be something in this poll. The result is in line with the Morgan poll that I reported on a few days ago. It is more or less permissible to combine the two samples, which gives us 3,036 respondents (1891 from Morgan and 1145 from Newspoll). Except the sample isn't quite that large as Newspoll excluded 8% of their sample because they didn't answer this question with a preference. Adjusting for this (and assuming Morgan didn't do the same and didn't tell us) the total is 2,944. Still pretty large. The adjusted totals are 44% Coalition, 40% Labor, 7% Greens and 10% other with a sample error of plus or minus 1.8%. In other words this is a statistically meaningful move since the last election. Newspoll also tends to confirm the results in its own terms because of the trend. Unlike Morgan, where the results have bounced in both directions, Newspoll shows a clear trend since the election. This trend is important because just as I can combine results from different surveys that occur over more or less the same time period, you can do the same with different samples within the same survey over a time period. By producing a rolling average (which is all a trend actually is) you can get a more certain result. ABC news reports Opposition Treasury Spokesman Wayne Swan on the result:
    "Labor treasury spokesman Wayne Swan says the result is welcome but it is a long time before the next election. He says the poll reflects the public's disappointment in the recent interest rates rise.
    He's right to be cautious about the poll result, and politic on the reasons for the change. While we can measure movement on these figures we can't measure cause. That's why What the people want asks qualitative questions and combines them with regression analysis based on the ABS statistics, wherever possible.
    Latest federal Morgan Poll and margin of error
    Saturday, 02 April 2005 01:19 | Written by Graham Young
    The latest Roy Morgan poll of federal voting intentions is out. You can read it at www.roymorgan.com/news/polls/2005/3848/. It shows the Government on 44%, 2.4% below their result at the last election, and the ALP on 39%, 1.4% higher. Gary Morgan spends some lines analysing the movement and concludes: "This latest Morgan Poll shows the Primary vote has stabilised after the reaction against interest rates in early March. Primary support for the ALP has risen and an election at this time would be close." In fact it shows nothing of the sort. At the bottom of the page Morgan has a table showing the margin of error inherent in samples of 1,000. At 1,891 the sample on which this analysis is based is much larger than 1,000, so this table doesn't help. However, I've found a web page that not only explains the concept of margin of error, but has a calculator where you can work it out for yourself. In the case of Morgan's sample, his margin of error for the Liberal Party vote is 2.2% in 95% of cases. In other words, the Liberal Party vote could be anywhere between 41.8% and 46.2%, meaning that on the basis of this poll it could have either lost an election decisively to Labor, or won it with a similar margin to last year - take your pick. We pollsters spend a lot of time making up reasons for why things appear to be happening, when nothing is really happening at all. This appears to be yet another case of this phenomenon.
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