Planning for no climate change agreement. Somewhere in a public service basement I hope there is some diligent official working on a plan for how Australia can best cope with global warming if the world community does not come up with an agreement to make the dramatic cuts in carbon emissions that Professor Ross Garnaut reported yesterday are necessary. It is all well and good to work out how this country can contribute to a global policy and the adjustments that will be necessary if we do so but an important part of the “if” is what other countries do. As Prof. Garnaut outlined in his report there is no prospect of solving climate change unless developing nations accept new and early targets. Unilateral action by Australia to make even larger cuts in emissions than the new Labor Government has already promised will be nothing but a costly futile gesture without a determined world wide effort. Achieving this universal agreement looks a long way off which is why a prudent local government should be making contingency plans in the event of one not materialising in the next decade. Perhaps what is needed is the development of a “what if” plan by another similarly learned academic to prepare the nation for the changes that may be forced upon us by the failure of other nations to accept Prof. Garnaut’s call for urgent action.

A sensible market reaction. A sensible reaction by one market this morning to front page news in the New York Times; suggestions of an affair with an attractive looking lobbyist have led to an increased assessment of the probability that John McCain will become the President of the United States. Perhaps the thought that the 71 year old candidate is fit enough for such a fling has reassured Americans that the Republican front runner is still young and fit enough for the task ahead. Whatever the reason, the Crikey Presidential election indicators, based on the world’s major prediction markets Intrade and Betfair, now has Senator McCain a 94% chance of becoming the Republican candidate and a 34% chance of ending up President. On the Democratic Party side Barack Obama remains an 80% chance of becoming the candidate (Hillary Clinton is assessed at 20%) and is now given a 52% chance of becoming the first black President with Mrs Clinton at 12%.

Governments suffer from rowdy scenes. It might have been the Coalition members of the Opposition responsible for the rowdy scenes in the House of Representatives this morning but it is the Labor Government that will suffer most when the pictures are shown on the nightly news. Before continuing with the sham Friday sittings where there can be no votes and a quorum is not necessary so members can go home early if they want to, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd should have a chat with Paul Keating. The former Prime Minister opposed the televising of Parliament at all because he realised that viewers at home did not discriminate between government and opposition when it came to bad behaviour; the government gets blamed most for anything that happens in Canberra.

No trade unionists today. No maiden speeches by Labor members with a trade union background today but the comment “dull but worthy” suggested to me yesterday by a gentle critic provides an accurate summary of the contribution by Shayne Neumann, Labor, Blair. A solicitor who became a family law specialist in 1996, explained how the experience “has led me to hold a deep belief that the rights of children should be protected and that the law should allow women to control their lives and destinies both physically and financially.” A Christian who describes his faith as being “the compass which grounds my life” and thinks that Australia has too much law and not enough justice. 6 out of 10.

Jon Sullivan, Labor, Longman: A former Labor member of the Queensland State Parliament who is married to a present member, gave a very standard version of a maiden speech with plenty of thanks and anecdotes about his electorate. A solid and earnest maiden speech. 5 out of 10.

The Daily Reality Check

If climate change is the big issue confronting modern Australia then the people seem somewhat unconcerned by it. The newspapers, television and radio may have given prominence to the release of the interim Garnuat report on what needs to be done but the readers of internet news sites have largely given it a miss. Only on two of the 10 internet news sites surveyed for Crikey every morning was the report among the top five read stories. The pit bull shot dead with a nail gun rated far higher.

The Pick of This Morning’s Political Coverage

Government implodes as minister jumps ship – Andrew Clenell, Sydney Morning Herald
Nelson snubs tour of indigenous area – Sarah Smiles, The Age
PM told to get real on carbon cuts – Matthew Warren and Matthew Franklin, The Australian
Call for Louise Day to quit council race after rape joke – Emma Chalmers, Courier Mail
WHINE MOAN GRIPE Foley blasts South Australians as a ‘bunch of bloody whingers’ – Greg Kelton, Adelaide Advertiser

Peter Fray

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