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.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of AUS in general and in geography as Australia in particular.
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 crimes.
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.
Australian journalist detained in China
An Australian journalist is being held in an unknown location in China. For several years now, Cheng Lei has been working as a news anchor and business reporter for the English-language and state-controlled Chinese news channel CGTN. A couple of weeks later, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that she was being held in custody on suspicion of “activities that threaten national security.” Another Australian citizen detained in China is author Yang Hengjun, who was arrested in January 2019 on charges of espionage. Yang denies the allegations.
Climate change affected forest fires according to the report
A study commissioned by the state government of New South Wales concludes that climate change played a major role in the extent of the severe forest fires 2019-2020. New South Wales was the hardest hit state: 26 people died and 2,400 homes were destroyed. Several experts participate in the report, which clearly distances itself from the politicians, even within the national government, and other “climate skeptics” who claim that pyromaniacs and poor management of the forest contributed to the fires becoming so severe. According to the report, there was no evidence for this.
Melbourne is shut down due to corona
Severe restrictions are being imposed in Melbourne to stop the continued spread of covid-19. The number who fall ill daily has for a period been steady at several hundred. Already at the beginning of July, various measures were introduced after a new spread of infection was discovered, and since then the state of Victoria has been hit hard. Now the rules are further tightened with, among other things, requirements to stay at home as much as possible. The restrictions are expected to last for a period of at least six weeks.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Australia in 2019 was 25,203,087, ranking number 55 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.230% yearly, and the population density was 3.2807 people per km2.