Foreign Affairs begin at home. As a former state secretary of the Labor Party, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has an understandable interest in election campaigning but flitting around the world on the country’s behalf severely limits his ability to engage in the task of vote getting. This week, however, will be an exception with Mr Smith having lured the US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to Perth on Thursday and Friday as a guest of the Government. The press statement announcing the impending arrival did not concern itself with important matters of world affairs that may or may not be discussed. This visit is being sold at the parish pump level with the Foreign Minister saying Secretary Rice’s visit is an opportunity “to share with her the pride Western Australians have for John Curtin’s foresight in securing our post World War II economic and strategic security” and to provide the opportunity to “highlight Western Australia’s significant economic, social, intellectual and sporting contribution to Australia over the past few decades.”

Determined to be a climate optimist. As the special pleading for exemptions from planned curbs on green house gas emissions begins in earnest I am determined to become a climate change optimist, but the difficulties in getting a world wide consensus just look harder every day. Hence I am ignoring the upward slope in this graph below showing mean world temperature anomalies over the last 20 years as measured by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies; It is just too depressing to contemplate when even our government, which was elected at least partly because it showed concern about a world getting warmer, unveils a policy that will reduce nothing for a decade. I prefer to notice the dramatic decline in temperature in the year just ended and to draw a trend line that starts in 2002 and has the world getting cooler.

A new government for India? A vote in the Indian Parliament tomorrow will determine if the world’s largest democracy has an early election. A confidence motion will be debated following the decision of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to go ahead with a nuclear accord with the United States. If Mr Singh’s shaky coalition survives, the parliamentary vote the election will not be held until next May. Indian bookmakers assess the prospects as a 70% chance of the Government winning the vote.

What about jobs for our boys? Conservative is not even the right word for it when Kevin Rudd goes and appoints a National Party man to a delightfully soft cop as Ambassador to the Holy See in Rome! The Labor Party lads and lasses might not come out and say it in public but there will be considerable resentment within the Party that Tim Fischer as a former Deputy Prime Minister in the dreaded Howard Government has been appointed.