Looking prime ministerial. A royal visit and a meeting with heads of government from around the world have given Julia Gillard the perfect backdrops to act like a real leader and to my eyes she has been carrying it off in Perth with considerable skill. If her approval ratings do not improve because of it then Labor really will have reason to despair.

My guess is that they will, helped by the swaggering insensitivity of Tony Abbott in trying to gate-crash proceedings. On television last night he just looked crass.

Interest rates to help. Whether it is on Melbourne Cup day or later, interest rates in Australia are surely on the way down. And the reduction by the Reserve Bank, when it comes,  will be a definite plus for the government. There are some twists and turns left in this political contest yet.

Difficulties of narrow majorities. I have got used, just, to ministers of the crown refusing to take responsibility for the actions of their departments. That part of the Westminster tradition I now accept is dead but I cannot understand the ease with which in Victoria they are now brushing off the actions of ministerial staff and parliamentary assistants.

If the Victorian police minister Peter Ryan can get away with keeping his job following the resignations of his personally appointed adviser Tristan Weston and his parliamentary secretary Bill Tilley following the report of the Police Integrity Commission then ministers need never worry about being responsible for anything ever again.

If ever a Minister should be sacked by a Premier then Mr Ryan is him.

That he won’t be is not because Premier Ted Baillieu does not understand the gravity of the case against his Minister. It is simply a reflection of governing with a majority of one.

A drying Mediterranean. Sovereign debt is not the only problem for Europe’s Mediterranean nations. They have a growing problem with water too. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the US government has found that wintertime droughts are increasingly common in the region and human-caused climate change is partly responsible.

In the last 20 years, 10 of the driest 12 winters have taken place in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

“The magnitude and frequency of the drying that has occurred is too great to be explained by natural variability alone,” said Martin Hoerling, Ph.D. of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., lead author of a paper published online in the Journal of Climate this month.

“This is not encouraging news for a region that already experiences water stress, because it implies natural variability alone is unlikely to return the region’s climate to normal.”

Waiting for another Berlusconi verdict. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi might be carrying the mental weight of the sovereign debt crisis and any number of criminal trials but he can still keep his mind on the job. He was captured on film at this week’s European crisis summit casting a lingering glance at the behind of Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt as she walked away from him.

The Italian newspaper, La Stampa, called him “incorrigible” but did not report the prime ministerial verdict on Ms Thorning-Schmidt but presumably it was more favourable than the assessment he gave earlier this year on the rear quarters of German Prime Minister Angela Merkel.

As we reported in these Crikey snippets at the time:

An Irish Crikey Indicator. Results for Ireland’s presidential election should be announced on Saturday. The final Crikey Election Indicator on the event predicted a Labour victory.