Garnaut sings the blues. If there was a little note of pessimism in the speech last night by Labor’s chosen global warming adviser Ross Garnaut then it was understandable enough given the reaction round the world recently to petrol prices. Politicians everywhere it seems are under pressure to make fuel cheaper by reducing taxes, no matter the environmental cost. And higher they will be under the proposal the Professor will soon put to the Federal and State Labor Governments who hired him. He repeated in a lecture at the Australian National University last night that fuel for transport should not be excluded from the emissions trading scheme he is advising on. When it comes to thinking about what the Australian and other national governments will actually do about global warming Prof Garnaut starts sounding pessimistic. There is a chance, “just a chance”, he says, that Australia and the world will face up to the problem of global warming. He warns the world is continuing to pollute with a “business as usual” attitude, running the risk of dangerous and rapid climate change. As I have written in Crikey before, perhaps the real advice the government should be seeking is on the changes Australia will have to make if there actually is global warming and the nations of the world prove incapable of agreeing to do anything to stop it.

A good case for going early out west. West Australian Premier Alan Carpenter had the local journalists speculating this week that he would call an early election and surely the case for doing so must be tempting. On his own Labor side little annoying problems keep emerging but as most of the recent ones related to pre-selection contests, they should now largely be out of the way. His Liberal opponents, meanwhile, continue to be a disorganised rabble and their standing can surely only improve now they know there is no heart in the party room for yet another leadership change. The prudent Premier would strike while victory is as assured as a pollster can ever predict. The Crikey election Indicator has Labor a 73.7% chance of winning the election whenever it comes.

Obama starts a clear favourite. The opinion polls and the Crikey Election Indicator are pointing in the same direction: Barack Obama starts the United States election campaign proper as the clear favourite in the battle of the Senators. The Real Clear Politics average of all the recent polls has Obama leading John McCain by 2.2 percentage points. The Indicator, based on the quotations at the betting exchanges, puts the probabilities for the result on the first Tuesday in November as 63.7% for Obama to 35.4% for McCain and 0.9% for some kind of upset depriving them both. The Crikey Indicators on this and other events are:

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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