Rent a mourner. It is quite clear that Kevin Rudd loves a good funeral. One record his Government will surely set is to give more state funerals than any other in history. Toss in leading the hymn singing in memorial services for every killed soldier and he almost qualifies as being a professional mourner — a bit like one of those Doms of Indian who make a career of it on the banks of the Ganges at Benares. But surely it was going too far when last night when the Prime Minister put on his best melancholy accent to mourn the death of koala Sam. I mean Sam was not exactly Blinky Bill. What kind of example is our leader setting for the nation’s children when he celebrates the life of one who died of a sexually transmitted disease?

A hospital pass for the Della. When both of Sydney’s daily papers float the idea of a leadership challenge against the Premier being imminent we can safely assume that someone whose opinion the journalists at least have some respect for is up to no good. The problem with this morning’s suggestion that John Della Bosca was seeking Nathan Rees’ job was that the Della is not even a member of the lower house and denies he is trying to get one. Most likely, then, the inspiration for the stories in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph was nothing more than pure mischief making by someone. So it was that Health Minister Della Bosca, with Premier Rees by his side, dutifully declared that there was no challenge, that he was not seeking to move down from the Legislative Council and that he had not sought advice as to whether he could be Premier without making such a change in location.

Not that the leadership speculation is likely to go away. Journos just love leadership challenge stories too much to allow this latest denial to be anything more than a temporary delay. We can look forward to more of the same in the weeks and months ahead, with or without John Della Bosca in the role of challenger.

The bookmaker Centrebet has had quite a large field of runners in the contest for who would be the Labor Leader when the election is finally held but took the market down this morning amidst all the confusion. The poor bookie obviously thought the newspapers actually knew something he didn’t! I’m sure it will be back up soon enough and probably not much different to what it was yesterday when this Crikey NSW Leadership Election Indicator was calculated.

As for the election result itself, the Liberal-National Coalition remains a firm favourite with a probability of 70% to9 Labor’s 30%.

Climate change problems. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s recent off-the-record but overheard, and thus reported, pessimism about a climate change agreement being reached in Copenhagen is looking more and more realistic by the day. This morning comes news that a key group of US Democrat Senators representing coal mining and manufacturing industry states have written to President Barack Obama saying they would not support any climate change bill that did not protect American industries from competition from countries that did not impose similar restraints on climate-altering gases.

This follows scepticism expressed reported overnight from China, the world’s biggest carbon- dioxide polluter, at the cost and effectiveness of extracting greenhouse gases from hundreds of coal plants and storing them underground. Bloomberg reported Su Wei, director-general of the climate-change unit at China’s National Development and Reform Commission, saying “carbon capture and storage, particularly for China, is not one of the priorities — the cost is an issue. If we spent the same money for CCS on energy efficiency and the development of renewables, it would generate larger climate-change benefits.”