Australia. In January, Australia's weather agency BOM
stated that the average temperature during the first month
of the year was over 30 degrees for the first time since
statistics began to be published. According to the weather
agency several new heat records were registered. For
example, over 45 degrees were measured ten days in a row in
Birdsville, Queensland. And in Wanaaring/Borrona Downs in
New South Wales, it never got cooler than 36.6 degrees
during the night until January 26.
In Tasmania, about ten large forest fires erupted and
many animals were affected by the heat. In the
Murray-Darling river system, up to 1 million fish died due
to toxic algal blooms.
The long-lasting heat was replaced in February by two
weeks of heavy rain. The extreme weather hit hard against
the state of Queensland. In the town of Townsville, located
on the north-east coast of Queensland, it rained for less
than eight days than it normally does in a full year,
according to TV channel ABC. Prime Minister Scott Morrison
stated that hundreds of thousands of livestock animals were
feared to have died in the fall. In addition, several
saltwater crocodiles were found in the water bodies in
Townsville, according to the Townsville Bulletin.
CountryAAH, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an Australian citizen,
was arrested in April by British police after spending seven
years at Ecuador's Embassy in London. He was sentenced by a
court in London to 50 weeks imprisonment for infringing on
his bail conditions in 2012. In connection with the arrest
of Assange, the United States published a hitherto hidden
charge of data breach.
In May, parliamentary elections were held in Australia.
Contrary to what the country's opinion polls had shown, the
bourgeois coalition won between the Liberal Party, the
Liberal National Party and the National Party. Prime
Minister Scott Morrison of the Liberal Party opted for lower
taxes, lower immigration and increased support for the
mining industry - while Labour's opposition leader Bill
Shorten had focused mainly on environmental issues.
At least four people died and two were injured when a man
opened fire at a hotel in the city of Darwin in the Northern
Territory in June. A 45-year-old man was arrested after the
act, which was not considered terror-related.
The plans for the criticized coal mine Carmichael in
Queensland appeared to come to fruition in June when the
state's politicians made decisions that opened up for the
construction of the coal mine. The project was headed by the
Indian mining company Adani, which started construction on
roads the same month. The coal mine has been the subject of
debate for several years. Proponents have talked about the
economic benefits, while environmental organizations, among
other things, have been critical of climate change.
According to media data, the mine was estimated to produce
up to 10 million tonnes of thermal coal and produce annual
emissions the size of the whole of Malaysia or Austria.
Australia has the world's second largest carbon dioxide
emissions per inhabitant.
In July, it became known that more than 210 tonnes of
garbage would be sent back to Australia from Indonesia after
the Indonesian authorities discovered that containers, which
would have contained paper, also contained hazardous
materials and other types of garbage. In recent years,
several Asian countries have refused to accept garbage from
the western world.
A court in Melbourne declared in August that the verdict
against the Australian Cardinal, the Vatican's former chief
financial officer George Pell, was upheld after it was
appealed. Pell was sentenced in March to six years in prison
for sexual abuse of children during his time as archbishop
of Australia. According to the judgment, George Pell must
serve at least three years and eight months of imprisonment.
He is the highest-ranking Catholic Church convicted of sex
In August, China presented formal suspicions of espionage
against the Australian-Chinese author and democracy advocate
Yang Hengjun. Yang was arrested during a trip to China in
January. Australia has since tried to get him released.
After decades of struggle from the country's urinals, the
world-famous red sandstone cliff Uluru, also known as Ayers
Rock, was closed to tourists and climbers in October. The
cliff is renowned for its changing color during the hours of
the day and is a sacred place for Aborigines. Uluru has been
a major tourist attraction despite its remote location in
the desert - 450 kilometers from Alice Springs in the
Northern Territory. According to figures from the
government, 400,000 visitors queued during the first half of
the year to have one last chance to climb Uluru. The
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park itself will continue to be
open to visitors.
During the last months of the year, a total of over a
hundred fires raged in several states in Australia. Worst
affected were New South Wales and Victoria where thousands
of people were evacuated from their homes.
In New South Wales, a week of emergency was announced in
December for authorities to force people to move and close
roads. In Sydney, the smoked air was reported to be so
health-threatening that the city was deemed to be facing a
public health emergency.
Thousands of firefighters participated in the
extinguishing work and military assistance was also
deployed. However, the work was hampered by harsh winds,
severe drought and temperatures above 40 degrees.
Around the turn of the year, the AFP news agency reported
that more than 6 million hectares of land had been burned in
Australia since the fires started in September. At least 23
people were killed and more than 1,500 houses destroyed. The
wildlife of the country was also hit hard. According to
media, around 500 million animals had died in the fires, the
extent of which had never been seen before in the country.