Avoiding the register. Legal and accounting firms – and, if PriceWaterhouseCoopers is any guide, these days they often seem to be the same thing – are about to be given the opportunity by the Labor Government of a nice little earn. The draft rules for the proposed register of lobbyists released yesterday by Special Minister of State John Faulkner, excludes “members of professions, such as doctors, lawyers or accountants, and other service providers, who make occasional representations to Government on behalf of others in a way that is incidental to the provision to them of their professional or other services” from having to register. Companies wishing to keep their attempts at influence away from the prying eyes of the public will now have good reason to hand the task to “members of professions” rather than those government relations firms which will have to disclose their client list for all to see.

The lesson from Doha for climate change. If there is one thing that economists tend to agree on it is that free trade is good and in every nation’s interest yet the battle to bring down trade barriers is proving a long and arduous process. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was doing his bit in Brussels this week to persuade the European Community to reach agreement with the United States so the Doha round of talks on agricultural trade can continue. The matter is important to Australia’s primary producers so the effort was worth making however unlikely success might be. The exercise might also bring home to Mr Rudd the extreme difficulty of getting the countries of the world to agree on things even when they are in the overall interest of all of them. There is no reason to expect that world-wide policies to deal with climate change will be any easier to achieve than those on free trade, so when the Prime Minister returns home perhaps he should start working on contingency plans that will help Australia cope with rising temperatures if and when they happen. At least there are some signs that the nation’s farmers are not just sitting back in the expectation that sensible rulers will make the decisions that prevent global warming. In Perth this week the Government’s Grains Research and Development Corporation funded a conference on the theme of farming in a changing climate. University of Western Australia Associate Professor Ross Kingwell, made the case for collaboration between scientists and farmers to: deliver more efficient water use; deliver new varieties with greater drought, heat-shock and pest and disease resistance; reduce crop production risk by staggered planting, better erosion control, minimal soil disturbance and crop residue retention; facilitate crop operations via better weather forecasting.

The spreading road maps. The Boston Consulting Group has a roadmap for Expanding Financial Inclusion in India; the new Washington State Tourism Commission lays out the first comprehensive road map for bringing more visitors to the state; Paramount Farms has drawn out a detailed road map to achieve the incremental growth of 300 million lbs of pistachio nuts over the next five years; in the Ukraine the request of leaders for a road map to membership of NATO has led to weeks of embarrassing protests in parliament; but there’s still no road map to peace in Darfur. Just a sample of the 5258 road maps on Google News this morning. And one of them actually referred to those things you look at when you are trying to find the best route – the story of the so-called Road Map Sailor, Eric Abbott, who promised to learn to learn how to navigate after he repeatedly got lost trying to navigate the Irish sea using AA road maps. In 1999 his rescues cost coastguards an estimated £55,000.

Something to aspire to. Australia’s new Foreign Minister Stephen Smith appears to be quite a dull fellow. No fishnet stockings and nothing like the flair with text messaging that Ilkka Kanerva has brought to Finland’s diplomacy. Mr Kanerva was sacked this week after the media published suggestive text messages he sent to Johanna Tukiainen, a 29-year-old erotic dancer in the Scandinavian Dolls dance troupe, who met the 60-year-old Foreign Minister on a plane trip and sold 200 of his messages to the gossip magazine Hymy including one in which Kanerva asked Tukiainen: “Would you like to do it in an exotic place? Where could it be?” Finland’s Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, 52, was himself the subject of a kiss-and-tell memoir by a former mistress he broke up with by sending her the text message: “It’s over.” Mr Vanhanen’s popularity rose after this revelation.

The Daily Reality Check

If you found my Crikey colleagues a bit pretentious with their piece on posh magazine covers yesterday and their note on the upmarket magazine cover of the week the day before, perhaps this pair will redress the balance.

Surely two of the great front pages of all time and worthy finalists in the favourite headline competition being run in the New York Post. Given the current political climate I personally am a little disappointed that these efforts featuring the Clintons did not make the judge’s final shortlist:

Nothing as stirring as that lot on the Australian news websites this morning, with the Advertiser coming closest with its contribution “If it’s not on paper, it’s not on” confirming that Independent MP Mary Bressington was serious when she said that women should sign a contract before s-x to combat false rape allegations.

The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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