2012: The Year in News

collage2012text12012 has been a crazy, eventful year, rife with scandals, elections and viral music videos where people ride invisible horses. In case you had a life and missed some of the crucial newsworthy moments of 2012, never fear, because we’ve been keeping a close eye on all the big stories.

Join us as we take a walk down memory lane through the madness, mayhem and occasional tragedy that was the last twelve months in news and views.

gillard aust dayThe year began with the infamous Australia Day Tent Embassy Riot, when Indigenous protesters at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra were informed of comments made by Tony Abbott in relation to its continuing relevance. Angered, they advanced on a nearby restaurant where both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader were attending a function. While the protest was minimal, the event ended with both politicians fleeing, with PM Julia Gillard falling in the race to her car, losing a shoe. The event also produced one of the most iconic photos of the year, with the Prime Minister clutching one of her security staff in the rush to escape.

In February, Kevin Rudd finally made the move Australians had been expecting for months and called for a leadership ballot. One by one, Labor front-benchers sided with the PM or her predecessor. Julia Gillard won the ballot by 71 votes to Kevin Rudd’s 31 votes, leaving Rudd on the backbench ever since. Despite the very firm affirmation from both sides that this issue has now been put to rest, the leadership question continues to plague the Labor government, with Kevin Rudd’s frequent TV appearances, T-shirt election campaign and undeniable popularity among the Australian people fuelling further media attention.

campbell newmanIn March, Campbell Newman led Queensland’s Liberal National Party to a landslide victory against Anna Bligh’s Labor Government. Since then, Mr Newman’s popularity has plummeted, due to huge cuts to the public service and a number of unpopular policies.

The increasingly murky Peter Slipper-James Ashby saga first came to light in April, with Mr Slipper standing aside as the Speaker of the House of Representatives while a civil claim of sexual harassment was dealt with by the Federal Court. In October, under increasing pressure from the media and the Opposition, Peter Slipper resigned as Speaker, making way for the first woman to be elected to the role, Anna Burke. In December, the case against Slipper was dismissed by the Federal Court, but with more and more evidence coming to light about the involvement of former Liberal minister Mal Brough, what was undeniably the biggest political scandal of 2012 is certain to continue into the new year.

In April, Queensland was rocked by the murder of Allison Baden-Clay, a mother of three. Her husband, Gerard, is currently behind bars charged with her murder. He has been refused bail.

chamberlainIn June, a fourth coronial inquest into the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain ended over thirty years of speculations, ruling that a dingo took the infant from an Uluru campsite in 1980. It was a momentous occasion for the Chamberlain family, especially Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, who wrongfully served three years in prison for the murder of her daughter.

June was also a big month for journalism, with Fairfax Media announcing plans to cut 1900 jobs and to reformat The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald to a compact tabloid size.

In Melbourne, the ground shook in June with a minor earthquake striking the city and much of regional Victoria. The epicentre of the 5.4 magnitude quake was around 10km south west of the Gippsland town of Moe.

Many argued that Julia Gillard broke her core promise in July, when the Labor Government’s carbon pricing scheme was introduced. It charges the biggest polluters $23 per tonne of carbon emissions they produce in the 2012-13 financial year. For Abbott, this was a political get-out-of-jail-free card, one he seems to have been consistently playing since. For the way Labor handled his anti-Carbon price campaign, check out our story on the top five political weird moments here and watch the Craig Emerson video.

shooterIn July, the US was rocked by a mass shooting inside a Century movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Gunman James Holmes allegedly set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience with multiple firearms, killing 12 people and injuring 59 others. Holmes has since been charged with 24 counts of first degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder. Holmes’ defence attorneys have claimed he is mentally ill, a motion the prosecution has refused to accept.

In entertainment news, July saw the release of South Korean pop star PSY’s viral hit, “Gangnam Style. Just before Christmas, the insanely popular video surpassed one billion views on YouTube, making it the most popular video in the site’s history.

August saw another election, this time in the Northern Territory. Paul Henderson’s Labor government fell to the Country Liberal Party led by Terry Mills.

protestAn American anti-Islamic film sparked global violence in September, with Sydney’s Hyde Park playing host to a riot resulting from local anger. Six police officers and 19 protesters were injured during the protest when it turned violent. Nine men were arrested in relation to the protest. Muslim leaders across Australia widely condemned the protests.

Yet another election was held in October, with the ACT’s branch of the Labor Party, led by Katy Gallagher holding onto power for another term, retaining a minority government with the support of the Greens.

Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner made history in October, successfully completing a jump from 38.62kms from the earth. The 43-year-old smashed the previous record for the highest ever free-fall, and became the first skydiver to go faster than the speed of sound. At his fastest moment, Baumgartner travelled at 1342km/h.

Our first female Prime Minister garnered global attention in October, and a reputation as a “badass” when she slammed the misogynistic attitudes prevalent in Australian politics, and largely emanating from the federal Liberal opposition. Check out our take on the story here.

storm sandySuper-storm Hurricane Sandy (otherwise known as “Frankenstorm” due to its arrival at Halloween) devastated the US in October. At least 253 people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries. Sandy created a storm of photo-shopped images, but the most powerful were the real photos of a flooded New York City.

Windows 8 was made available to the general public in October, heralding the biggest change for Microsoft since the launch of Windows ’95. The new operating system marks the first time Microsoft has entered the tablet market, aiming to make the software giant a key player in the post-PC world as it attempts to merge PCs and laptops with touch devices like tablets.

Northern Australia witnessed a beautiful total solar eclipse in November, with the event attracting large groups of tourists to Australia’s top end.

obamaNovember saw Barack Obama return for a second term, beating Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the US presidential election, becoming just the second Democrat to win a second four-year White House term since World War II. For our Rubies post on the Australian reaction to the election, head here.

In November, a truce was reached between Hamas and Israel after a week of violence raged in the Gaza Strip. The truce has nervously held, despite angry from Israel over the UN recognition of Palestine. However, Israel’s plans to construct thousands of new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem next year continues to threaten the two-state peace plan.

In December, the body of Daniel Morcombe was finally laid to rest by his family in a funeral held at the Sunshine Coast’s Siena Catholic College. For more details, from the beginning of the case to its current point, read our post here.

royal hoaxRadio presenters from Sydney’s 2DayFM caused an international stir in December when they hoodwinked a nurse at the King Edward VII Hospital into providing personal information about the health of the Duchess of Cambridge. Kate Middleton was at the hospital being treated for extreme morning sickness. The hoax spiralled into tragedy with the suicide of Jacintha Saldanah three days later, the nurse who put the call through to the Duchess’s hospital ward. Saldanah left three suicide notes for her family, including one that was critical of staff at the hospital where she worked and one in which she blamed the presenters for her death. DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian are not expected to be charged, but ACMA is currently investigating the conduct of Austereo, owners of the station’s license. While the announcement of the pregnancy was meant to be a joyous occasion, this story will always overshadow the news of Prince William and Princess Kate’s royal baby.

sandy hook victimsIn December, the US and the world were horrified when 20 small children and 6 adults were gunned down in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Adam Lanza, 20, shot dead his mother while she was sleeping, before arming himself and moving on to Sandy Hook Elementary. Lanza shot himself when police arrived at the scene.

The massacre triggered renewed gun debate in the US, with Democrats leading the charge for changes to be made. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein will reintroduce legislation to control the use of weapons in the new Congress that begins next year. Feinstein has said she will introduce a bill to ban assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips. It is a debate that has and will continue to divide Americans, but with President Obama secure in his last term we can only hope that laws to regulate gun ownership are introduced and more mental health support is provided. However, with a Congress that is currently ruled by the Republican party, this may be a difficult goal to attain.

The Syrian civil war continued, with more followers of President Bashar al-Assad defecting, and more Syrian refugees escaping the war-torn nation. In December, a watch dog reported the death toll had surpassed 45 000. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees “estimates that if fighting in Syria continues, the refugee figure could reach 1.1 million by June 2013”, a report said. That is double the current number of those registered by the UN.

December witnessed the brutal gang-rape of a student in India. The 23-year-old, who has not been named, was attacked by six men on a bus in New Delhi on December 16 and beaten with an iron bar. After being transferred to a hospital in Singapore, the student sadly passed away on December 29. Calls are already being made across the globe for changes in legislation and police procedure to address violence against women in India.

austerity2012 saw protests against austerity plans throughout Europe intensify. Italy, Portugal, Spain and Greece all had austerity plans introduced which included government lay-offs, taxes and service reductions.

It’s been a long, dramatic year for news, but there is plenty more to come in the months ahead. For Australians, 2013 is a Federal election year and is sure to be filled with plenty of political drama and tensions. We look forward to you joining us as we keep an eye on Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard, the US gun debate, and all the unfolding stories here and overseas.

Let us know what stories from 2012 you think were important, and feel free to leave predictions for the big stories to come in the year ahead via our comment section below, our Facebook page, or on Twitter.


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