October 2005
Water and light results
Thursday, 20 October 2005 15:50 | 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
    Monday, 10 October 2005 15:53 | 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 12:39 | 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. .