Packer wedding schedule: Monday 18th – Guests arrive in Nice and are met at the airport to be taken to their hotel. Monday night, welcome cocktail party. Tuesday 19th — casual attire, surprise day. Wednesday 20th — formalwear, it’s the night of the wedding. Thursday 21st — smart casual, another surprise day out on a boat. Friday 22nd — guests taken to either Nice or Marseille airports for departure.

DFAT and climate-change director Robert Owen-Jones has now been promoted to Assistant Secretary (as a “special climate-change negotiator”), the climate-change section is now headed up by someone else and has about 3 or 4 other staff depending on graduates etc in the mix. More interesting is that the Australian Greenhouse Office also has an international climate change section with a lot more staff that has been working on these issues for years …

Linking salary to student results might not be such a great idea. I already know of at least one public primary school teacher in Canberra who marks students down at the start of the year and up at the end, thereby inflating their results. He’s recently been rewarded with a promotion.

Last week’s announcement by the US Government that it was buying US$500 million worth of smallpox vaccine may be a cause for concern for some security-minded people in Canberra. While the threat of smallpox or other biological attack on Australia is generally considered extremely low, the US decision will have many bio-security watchers reviewing our own preparedness. Australia, like many countries in the grip of post-September 11 concern, purchased its own smallpox vaccine back in 2002. Unfortunately the older, second-generation vaccine can produce some serious (in some cases fatal) side-effects and, as such, cannot be used – in the event of an attack – by a range of Australians, from pregnant women, cancer patients, HIV sufferers or even those with eczema. Many thousands of people would be unable to receive the vaccine in the case of an attack. This had already proved problematic for the US, which was forced to set up a compensation scheme almost one year ago for those who had suffered adverse reactions.