Julia Gillard spent the past three years implementing a climate change policy she neither wanted nor believed in. The carbon tax was not her idea. She was doing the bidding of the Greens and independents as a condition of winning their support to form government.

And Tony Abbott was loving it. A business leader asked Abbott to reconsider his policy on climate change a little over a year ago. Would he support an emissions trading scheme so that companies could get on with the job of investing?

''I've got Gillard on the ropes and there's no way I'm going to let her off now,'' came the reply.

This Punch and Judy show that dominated Australian politics had a number of effects. One was to distract the country from developments in the physical world.

How else do we explain the fact that Australia barely even noticed key events, such as the annual report on climate change by the World Meteorological Organisation 13 days ago?

Here's how Britain's Financial Times began its news account: ''The first 10 years of this century were the hottest in 160 years and filled with more broken temperature records than any other decade as global warming continued to accelerate, the UN's top weather agency has reported.''