Major news in Australia in 2019, a month by month recap

Caroline Riches
(Australian Associated Press)




1 – WA retailers face fines of up to $5000 if they flout a ban on single-use plastic bags.

7 – A mass fish die-off of up to one million Murray cod and other native species at Menindee in western NSW sparks debate about the management of the Murray-Darling river system and drought.

16 – Arab-Israeli exchange student Aiia Maasarwe is killed on her way home from a comedy gig in Melbourne, a city still mourning murdered comedian Eurydice Dixon and angry at street attacks on women.

24 – Adelaide hits 46.6C and becomes Australia’s hottest capital city on record.

26 – Divers Richard Harris and Craig Challen are named joint Australians of the Year for their part in the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded Thai cave.

26 – Japan’s Naomi Osaka wins the Australian Open and world No. 1 ranking. Novak Djokovic claims a record seventh Australian Open men’s singles title the next day.

27 – Ocean Alley takes out triple j’s Hottest 100 countdown with its song Confidence.

30 – Manus Island refugee Behrouz Boochani wins Australia’s most valuable literary award – the $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature – for his novel No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison.


4 – The banking royal commission’s damning final report is released, with 76 recommendations aimed at overhauling the financial services sector.

11- The royal commission into aged care begins public hearings, noting more than 3700 assaults in Australian nursing homes in the past financial year.

20 – Former foreign minister Julie Bishop announces her retirement from parliament at the upcoming election.


2- Pop princess Kylie Minogue dazzles a crowd of more than 300,000 at Sydney’s 41st Mardi Gras parade.

13 – Cardinal George Pell is sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted over the sexual abuse of two choirboys in the 1990s.

15 – Attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, leave 51 people dead. Alleged gunman, Australian Brenton Tarrant, later pleads not guilty to all murder charges.

17 – William Connolly, 17, smashes an egg on the head of Senator Fraser Anning over his anti-Muslim immigration rhetoric following the Christchurch attacks – and “egg boy” becomes an overnight sensation around the world.

23 – NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian claims victory in the NSW election, becoming the state’s first woman to be elected premier.

24 – Destructive Cyclone Trevor makes landfall near the Northern Territory-Queensland border, but more than 2000 people have already fled their homes and no lives are lost.

24 – Unusually powerful and slow-moving Cyclone Veronica hits the WA coast, causing widespread flooding and thousands of cattle deaths.

27 – A British man wanted in WA over drug-related offences is arrested in the Torres Strait after allegedly trying to flee the country on a jetski bound for Papua New Guinea.

31 – The Adelaide Crows beat Carlton to claim their second AFLW Premiership.


2 – Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announces the federal Budget is back in surplus and says the government didn’t raise taxes to do it.

4 – Kimberly-Clark Australia announces it’s closing its Sydney factory, which makes Huggies nappies, with up to 220 jobs lost as production moves to Asia.

9 – Las Vegas casino empire Wynn pulls out of a $10 billion merger with Crown Resorts after James Packer’s company spilled the beans ahead of time.

11 – Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush wins his defamation case against the publisher of The Daily Telegraph over articles alleging he acted inappropriately towards a female co-star during a Sydney theatre production of King Lear.

26 – Melbourne Zoo’s adventurous orangutan Malu makes another daring bid for freedom, briefly escaping his enclosure and forcing the zoo into lockdown.


16 – Former prime minister Bob Hawke, who won four elections for Labor, dies at his Sydney home at the age of 89.

18 – Scott Morrison defies opinion polls to lead the federal coalition to a stunning election victory; a shocked opposition mourns Labor legend Hawke.

20 – The final episode in the final season of Game of Thrones smashes viewing records around the world but many fans are outraged by “cliched” storytelling.

30 – Anthony Albanese replaces Bill Shorten as federal Labor leader.


4 – Four people are shot dead by a gunman in the Darwin CBD. Local man Benjamin Glenn Hoffmann, 45, is later charged with murder.

5 – Police raid the ABC’s Sydney headquarters and the home of a News Corp journalist, drawing fire from unions, media organisations and rights groups who claim they’re attacks on press freedom and public interest reporting.

8 – Ash Barty wins the French Open, the young Queenslander’s first grand slam title.

13 – PNG authorities demand the Australian government act on an unprecedented mental health crisis on Manus Island, with reports 50 men have self-harmed in recent weeks.

13 – Adani passes its final environmental approval and can now begin work on its Carmichael mine in Central Queensland after nearly nine years of planning, fierce protests and endless political debate.

22 – Australia applauds as Barty becomes world No. 1 during a Wimbledon lead-up tournament.

30 – Comedian and TV and radio host Tom Gleeson takes out the Gold Logie Award after spending weeks trashing his fellow nominees.



1 – David Hurley is sworn in as the 27th Governor General of Australia.

7 – A 33-year-old man is arrested and charged after scaling the Sydney Harbour Bridge in heavy fog, apparently to protest against the government of Iran.

3 – Former rugby league star Jarryd Hayne is committed to stand trial on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a woman in the NSW Hunter region.

5 – Bernard Tomic is fined his first-round prize money of more than $80,000 by Wimbledon officials who claim the Australian didn’t play up to the “required professional standards”.

27 – Rising swimming star Shayna Jack tests positive to a banned substance, forcing the 20-year-old to withdraw from the national squad. Jack maintains her innocence.

30 – Brisbane-based Melissa Lucashenko wins the Miles Franklin Literary Award for Too Much Lip. She is the third indigenous Australian writer to win the prize.


4 – Kerry Robertson, 61, becomes the first Victorian to use the state’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act, her two daughters saying their mother’s death was “beautiful and peaceful”.

8 – A bill to decriminalise abortion passes the NSW Lower House after heated and lengthy debate. It passes the Upper House on September 25.

17 – The chairman of Macquarie Media says Alan Jones will be fired if he makes any comments similar to those he directed at Jacinda Ardern this week, when he said Scott Morrison should “shove a sock” down the New Zealand prime minister’s throat.

26 – An attempt to deport Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers Kokilapathmapriya Nadesalingham (Priya) and Nadesalingam Murugappan (Nades) is thwarted by a last-minute injunction, forcing the plane carrying the couple and their children out of Australia to land in Darwin. The family is taken to Christmas Island detention centre, where they await a final hearing.

28 – The NSW government announces a $10 million initiative to combat what Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall describes as a looming “Fish Armageddon”.

29 – Prime Minister Scott Morrison hits out at a gender-inclusive toilet sign on display in his department, describing it as “political correctness”, “not necessary” and “over the top”.


5 – Notorious paedophile Michael Guider, who killed schoolgirl Samantha Knight decades ago, walks free from a Sydney prison.

8 – Australia retains The Ashes for the first time on English soil since 2001 with a thrilling win in the fourth Test.

12 – Five years to the day since William Tyrrell, then three years old, disappeared from Kendall, NSW, police say they’re “continuing to explore lines of inquiry and persons of interest”.

19 – Mother of missing Beaumont children, Nancy Beaumont, dies aged 92, having never known what happened to her three children, who disappeared from an Adelaide beach in the 1960s.

20 – Thousands of young Australians walk out of classrooms to demand action on climate change alongside thousands more adults and business leaders, part of worldwide rallies inspired by young Swedish activist Greta Thonberg.

21 – Scott Morrison and his wife Jenny are greeted at the White House by US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania.

25 – An Australian Bureau of Statistics report reveals heart disease is the number one cause of death among Australians and killed about 48 people every day in 2018.

28 – Richmond thrash GWS by 89 points to win their 12th AFL premiership and their second in three seasons.


1 – Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe cuts the cash rate to a record 0.75% and says he’s prepared to ease again if needed to support growth.

6 – The Sydney Roosters win the 2019 NRL grand final after a 14-8 victory over the Canberra Raiders.

22 – An Adelaide man dies after falling more than 10 metres from a zipline in the Daintree rainforest in Far North Queensland. His wife is seriously injured.

26 – Climbing Uluru is now banned, ending a rush by tourists to climb the red rock before the deadline.

27 – Australian serial killer Ivan Milat, convicted of murdering foreign and Australian backpackers between 1989 and 1993, dies in custody.

29 – Codey Herrmann, the man who raped and murdered international student Aiia Maasarwe in Melbourne, is jailed for at least 30 years.


5 – Australians celebrate another Melbourne Cup, but this year it’s tainted by an ABC probe revealing multiple instances of animal cruelty and hundreds of registered racehorses being discarded at slaughterhouses across Australia.

8 – Renewable energy – mostly solar and wind – supplies more than half of Australia’s national grid for the first time for a brief, 10-minute period.

10 – NSW’s premier declares a seven-day state of emergency ahead of catastrophic fire warnings as deadly bushfires continue to burn in NSW and Queensland.

12 – Disgraced Cardinal George Pell gets one final chance to fight his child sex convictions, with a full bench of the High Court expected to hear appeal arguments early in 2020.

21 – An online fundraising appeal set up by a NSW koala hospital to rescue and rehabilitate marsupials devastated by bushfires raises more than $1 million.

25 – Accused Claremont serial killer Bradley Edwards goes on trial in WA’s Supreme Court, charged with the murders of three women in 1996 and 1997.

27 – Victorian singer-songwriter Tones and I sweeps the floor at the Arias, cementing her status as breakout artist of the year.


4 – Sam Neill is honoured for his illustrious career with the highest accolade at the AACTA Awards. The Nightingale takes out best film category.

9 – Australian tourists off a cruise ship are among 47 people on New Zealand’s volcanic White Island when it erupts. Just over a week later, 16 Australians are confirmed dead and 12 are in Australian hospitals with burns.

10 – WA becomes the second state after Victoria to legalise voluntary assisted dying, to applause from the floor of parliament and the public gallery.

10 – Smoke from bushfires is so thick across parts of the Sydney basin that air pollution is deemed 11 times worse than the “hazardous” level.


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