Australia began the year with a man named Kevin Rudd serving as Prime Minister, and ended it with his former deputy filling the role.
The international row over the suspected hit on a senior Hamas figure in a Dubai hotel room keeps growing. In late February, it becomes apparent that three forged Australian passports were used by Israeli operatives. In May, Australia expels an Israeli diplomat in retaliation.
In March, after a closely followed trial, a Chinese court convicts four employees of mining giant Rio Tinto, including Australian Stern Hu, to jail on charges of bribery and trade secrets.
Later in the year, the role of mining in Australia’s future prosperity would increasingly take centre stage following the Henry Tax Review.
Notorious Melbourne gangland figure Carl Williams dies in prison following an attack in his jail cell. Public interest is high due to Williams’ celebrity-like status and the popularity of the Underbelly TV series. Charges are laid later in the year.
The Melbourne Storm are dealt the heavy blow of losing a host of titles after the NRL team confessed to cooking the books in order hide salary cap breaches. The issue moves beyond sport, bringing in to question News Ltd and the management of the game as a whole.
An agreement on an Emissions Trading Scheme had already cost Liberal Leader Malcolm Turnbull his job, but now, the issue that Prime Minister Rudd had publicly pushed so hard far is delayed until at least 2013. Rudd blames the Opposition, but commentators later queue up to single out this delay as one of the defining moments in the downfall of Rudd.
Labor announces what will become a key election issue, the proposal to dramatically increase the rate at which big mining companies are taxed, branding it the resource super profits tax. Come poll time, the ALP will have a fight on its hands to defend the policy it says is in the interest of fair returns for everyday Australians.
Although Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan is fading from the public mind, the issue soon hits home again with the naming of three Australian servicemen killed in a helicopter crash. If only briefly, the debate about Australian involvement is reignited.
It all happened so quickly. One minute he was Prime Minster, the next minute Kevin Rudd was facing a leadership spill from his deputy. The issue which would lead to a knife-edge election led to much soul-searching about the direction of the ALP and the issue of opinion-polling in Australian politics.
In her first speech as Prime Minister, Julia Gillard announces that ‘a good government was losing its way.’ Internet message boards, TV and radio airwaves are filled with voices from the left and right expressing their shock. The new PM will soon call a federal election.
Labor releases a series of maps showing which towns are set to be first hooked up to the National Broadband Network. Come the haggling over the federal election results, the NBN, and the Coaltion’s opposition to it, is cited as a key reason for three of the four independents siding with Labor.
News that former David Jones publicist Kristy Anne Fraser-Kirk is set to sue DJs CEO Mark McInnesand the chain for over $37m grabs the attention of the country. The boss of the store with the household name had already resigned in June after he admitted to behaving “in a manner unbecoming of a chief executive to a female staff member” at two recent company functions.
No amount of superlatives could do the election justice. After one of the tightest Canberra races in history, Australia awoke to a hung parliament, and weeks of haggling over just who would get to form government. The insatiable media spotlight soon turns to the independents and first ever Greens MP, Adam Bandt. The election also produces a number of first-timers: the first ever indigenous MP, Ken Wyatt, the youngest ever, Wyatt Roy and, the first Muslim-born MP, Ed Husic.
After a nailbiting two weeks, the ‘kingmaking’ duo (or in this case, queenmaking) of Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor finally decide to back Labor, after Bob Katter chose not to. The decision, coupled with that of independent Andrew Wilkie and Greens MP Adam Bandt, means Labor narrowly clings to power.
News that three Australian soldiers charged over the deaths of five children in Afghanistan have been charged, leads to heated debate. The soldiers vow to fight the charges amid claims that the government should take the unprecedented step of intervening in the decision of the Director of Military Prosecutions to charge the men.
Next Top Model host Sarah Murdoch is left truly embarrassed after she announced the wrong winner of the reality show’s $25,000 dollar prize, on September 28. Murdoch was reportedly fed the wrong information through her ear-piece. In a swift PR manoeuvre, runner-up Kelsey Martinovich was given a trip to New York and awarded $25,000 as a prize.
Exporters fret and online shoppers react with glee to news that the Australian dollar has hit parity with the US greenback. The dollar goes on to hover around the parity mark, with a surge in Australian tourists heading to the US predicted.
Australian Catholics celebrate the canonization of Australia’s first Catholic saint, Mary MacKillop, who is honoured in a ceremony in Rome.
Anger grows amongst rural communities affected by cuts to their water use proposed by the Murray Darling Basin Authority. The government says reform must be achieved in order to save the Basin from environmental disaster.
The issue of banking reform keeps growing following the big banks’ decisions to raise interest rates – blaming the RBA. Joe Hockey has been pushing the issue for the Coalition, but following derision from Labor benches, the government sees the writing on the wall and pledges to act.
Did someone say Oprah? To the delight of Oprah fans and tourism officials, and the disdain of many others, Australia goes nuts for the arrival of talkshow queen Oprah Winfrey. Sydney’s CBD is shut down, and fans and stars descend on the Opera House.
The human face of ‘boat people’ becomes apparent across the media spectrum when shocking images of a suspected people-smuggling vessel being battered against rocks at Christmas Island emerge. Over the following days, the Prime Minister announces the possible death toll from the tragedy could rise as high as 48.