Wikileaks’ Julian Assange behind bars
It’s the ultimate David and Goliath story — one Aussie man spearheads a campaign for accountability and transparency through the leaking of secret documents. He uncovers corruption and lies at the highest levels of government, in the process making enemies with some the world’s most powerful people. This month he was arrested over possible extradition from the UK to Sweden on sexual assault charges. While some called for his assassination, others rallied in the streets in his defence, and a number of high profile pillars of the community proudly stood beside him. He’s now been electronically tagged and bailed.
Out with the old, in with the new
In 2010 Australian politics was rocked with the election of the country’s first female Prime Minister and the ousting of Kevin Rudd by his own party. In May, Newspoll results found that Australians were losing faith in Rudd’s capacity to lead the nation. By June he was gone, and Julia Gillard was at the helm. A federal election in August saw Gillard and Tony Abbott go head to head, with the eventual winners being Gillard by the skin of her teeth and the Greens, with a brand new following.
Oprah headed Down Under
Australia rolled out the red carpet for Oprah to the tune of around A$5 million. Her Great Australian Adventure featured all the clichés, well-known landmarks and the cream of Aussie star power. If there’s one country that knows how to gush over international celebrities it’s Australia, and this was one of our most shameless displays. The four hour Aussie love-in will be beamed into living rooms across 145 countries next year.
Aussie infiltrates UK Big Brother
When John James Parton went into the UK Big Brother house in June, his endless contradictions left most of us scratching our heads. He was vain but also insecure, he was comfortable with his sexuality but constantly lost his temper with the girls in the house. He was equal parts rage and love, and his feelings for series winner Josie were confusing to say the least. As an Aussie on prime time TV each night, we wondered ‘Is he a good ambassador for Australia?’ We’re still undecided.
And the winner is…?
Who could forget the blunder that was this year’s season of “Australia’s Next Top Model”. When host Sarah Murdoch announced the wrong winner before a live studio audience at Luna Park in Sydney, it didn’t take long to hit YouTube and go right around the world. It was dubbed Australia’s most awkward TV moment. “This is what happens on live TV, folks,” said Murdoch, who later denied it was a publicity stunt. Actual winner Amanda Ware went on to sign a three year contract with Elite Model Management in New York City.
Hey Dad! sex scandal
In March, actress Sarah Monahan went public with allegations that she had been sexually molested as a child on the set of Aussie sitcom ‘Hey Dad!’. Eventually it came to light that the perpetrator was her on-screen father , Robert Hughes. The 62 year old, who now lives in Singapore, denies the claims. Reports in September indicate that police have interviewed nearly 100 witnesses over the allegations, but doubts remain as to whether charges will be laid.
Australia loses World Cup bid
Despite having the likes of Frank Lowy and Elle Macpherson behind our 2022 World Cup bid, the FIFA Executive Committee selected Qatar over Australia, Korea Republic, Japan and USA. About 300 distraught football fans at Sydney’s Circular Quay reacted with dismay after the result was revealed, with chants of “what a load of rubbish” ringing out after the verdict. Concerns have been raised about Qatar’s conservative attitudes towards alcohol consumption and homosexuality.
Australian gold rush in India
The 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India, came with its fair share of controversy — terror threats, poor ticket sales, unsanitary living quarters, dirty water in the pool, athletes falling ill, delayed construction of the main Games’ venues — with child labour being used in some cases, as well as Games’ Organising Committee corruption. At the opening ceremony, the chairman of the organising committee Suresh Kalmadi was booed by spectators, and went on to thank Princess Diana for attending, when he actually meant Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Australia went on to win 177 medals, 74 of them gold.
Qantas grounds A380s
In the lead up to Oprah’s big PR event in Australia, Qantas faced an onslaught of bad publicity after a plane engine caught fire and disintegrated over Indonesia. The flight turned back to Singapore and the airline was forced to ground their entire fleet of Airbus 380s.
Pauline Hanson stays put
After declaring earlier on in the year that “it was pretty much goodbye forever” to Australia, Pauline decided not to move to the UK after all. “I love England but… it’s overrun with immigrants and refugees,” Ms Hanson said. “Australia is still the best place in the world to live, but the same sorts of awful things are happening here too.”
Iceland’s black cloud
Volcanic eruptions from EyjafjallajÃ¶kull in Iceland saw much of European airspace closed in April and May due to an ash cloud, leaving thousands of travellers stranded around the world. The International Air Transport Association estimated that the ash cloud cost the worldwide airline industry £130 million a day.
Thousands nude up at the Opera House
Renowned artist Spencer Tunick gathered 5,200 participants for a naked photo installation on the steps of the Opera House. Called “The Base”, the work was about bringing gay and straight people together. “The future of any progressive [society] is based on everyone having full rights,” said Spencer.
Prince William popped the question
When Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton last month, the debate as to whether Australia should become a republic was stirred up again. The pair will marry on Friday 29 April 2011, and it will be a bank holiday.
Notable deaths in 2010
- 2 April: Lady Sonia McMahon, wife of Former Australian PM, mother of Julian McMahon, 77 years old
- 7 June: Adriana Xenides, Wheel of Fortune co-host, 55 years old
- 23 September: Malcolm Douglas, Outback adventurer, 69 years old
- 10 October: Dame Joan Sutherland, Opera singer, 83 years old
- 4 November: James Freud, singer from Models, 51 years old
- 6 December: Norman Frederick Hetherington, creator of TV’s Mr Squiggle, 89 years old