Missing Dennis. I felt cheated this morning. No Dennis Shanahan explaining the mysteries of Newspoll’s latest ups and downs. The Oz’s political boss man skipped commenting on improved figures for Labor and Prime Minister Julia Gillard. It was left to the underling Matthew Franklin to predict that Labor’s modest gains should guarantee Gillard’s leadership will survive into next year. Dennis instead was telling his readers about the horror of the tender for the Australia Network being scrapped:

Still, there might be another chance for a comment or two later in the year about the fortunes of the government. I expect the “modest gains” to continue in the run up to Christmas  and see no reason to change the two snippets I wrote on this subject in the past 10 days:

Flying to safety. Julia Gillard will be a jet-about Prime Minister for the next few weeks with a series of international conferences interrupted briefly by a visiting US President Barack Obama.

Playing on the international stage will give her a great opportunity to build on what I sense has been, in the electoral sense, a good period for her. The PM being out of the country limits the scope for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to play his attack dog role.

I’m expecting an improvement in both Gillard’s personal standing and that of her government as the year draws to its close with very few parliamentary performances to come.

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.

Dangerous politics. The disparaging remarks by Tony Abbott about not funding lazy Greeks to retire at 50 with Australian money paid via the International Monetary Fund might appeal to the latent xenophobia of the majority but it surely will not have pleased the substantial number of Australians with Greek antecedents. As in so most cases, this is another where the minority that feels strongly about an issue might change their votes because of the Opposition Leader’s views while the majority nod their heads in agreement with him with their voting intention unchanged.

Turn Radio Australia over to Hadley and Jones? There was only one balls-up in this Australia Network tender business and that was to put it out to tender in the first place. Projecting the image of Australia is a job for the government not private enterprise. It makes as much sense to have Sky News in charge of what television we send to the world as handing Radio Australia over to Alan Jones and Ray Hadley.

The carbon explosion. The scientists keep warning of the danger and the emissions keep increasing. Latest figures from the US government’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) a huge surge in carbon dioxide emissions from 2009 to 2010. ORNL’s preliminary estimates show that 2010 was by far a record year for CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel combustion and cement manufacture. Globally 9139 teragrams of oxidised carbon (Tg-C) were emitted from these sources.

A teragram is a million metric tons. Converted to carbon dioxide, so as to include the mass of the oxygen molecules, this amounts to 33.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. The increase alone is about 512 Tg-C, or 5.9%, over the 2009 global estimate. The previous record year was 2008, with 8749 Tg-C emitted; the 2010 estimate is about 104.5% of that, or 391 Tg-C more.

Much of the 5.9% global increase from 2009 to 2010 is due to increased emissions from the world’s largest fossil-fuel emitter, the People’s Republic of China, where emissions rose 10% to 2.247 Tg-C.

Emissions from the US were 1498 Tg-C, up by almost 60 Tg-C, or 4%, of the 2009 estimates of 1438 Tg-C. The record year for the US was 2007, with estimated emissions of 1589 Tg-C. The 2010 total is about 94% of that value, reflecting economic conditions.

From the Energy Collective

Peter Fray

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