2013: a wild ride for Aussie politics
Time to take a look back at the weird and wonderful moments on the bumpy ride that was Australian politics in 2013.PT3M13S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2zv41 620 349 December 24, 2013
There is little doubt that the past year in politics was dominated by two key events - the federal election, and the battle between Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard for the Labor leadership.
In 2013 there were plenty of surprises: Clive Palmer emerged as a political force in his own right, MP Craig Thomson was arrested and faced court over allegations of misuse of union funds, and Liberal candidate Jaymes Diaz was ridiculed for his failure to recall any of the six-points in his party's plan to stop the boats.
But nothing captured Australia's attention like the battle between Rudd and Gillard for the prime ministership.
2013: Political images of the year
Prime Minister Julia Gillard announces the September 14 election date at the National Press Club of Australia on 30 January 2013. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Of the 10 most read federal politics stories on Fairfax Media sites, four followed the ongoing power struggle between the Labor rivals.
Gillard began the year on the front foot, with the unconventional announcement of the federal election eight months in advance. She failed to make that date with voters, with Rudd first threatening to, and eventually succeeding in ending her prime ministership, just as she had ended his in 2010.
When the national poll did finally come, voters turned away from a divided and damaged Labor government and Tony Abbott's Coalition swept into power.
But when looking back on the most popular political stories of the year, there are some surprises, and not in the form of cheese and salami sandwiches hurled at the prime minister by schoolchildren.
Former foreign minister Bob Carr courted headlines with his anecdote soon after the death of Margaret Thatcher that accused the former British PM of racist comments; there was widespread interest in the international media's comparisons of Tony Abbott with former US President George W. Bush; and a One Nation candidate in Queensland earned notoriety for a blundering interview in which she made numerous mistakes, including calling Islam a country.
And in a remarkable insight into the power of the internet, one of the most read stories of the year came from prominent human rights lawyer and refugee advocate Julian Burnside, whose forceful argument against the offshore detention of asylum seekers became a sensation on Facebook, where it was shared more than 100,000 times.
The list also reflects the popularity of real-time political coverage, with the top four spots occupied by blogs that gave blow-by-blow accounts of the year’s biggest events as they happened.
The 10 most read political stories of 2013
1. Federal Election 2013: Live coverage and results (live blog), September 7
- After his narrow loss in 2010, Tony Abbott claims victory for the Coalition and Kevin Rudd resigns from the leadership of the Labor party.
- Rudd wins the Labor caucus vote over Julia Gillard in his second attempt, with Bill Shorten dramatically switching camps at the last minute.
- Labor elder Simon Crean calls for a leadership spill but Rudd declines to challenge Gillard for the prime ministership after he fails to secure the necessary numbers.
- The day after becoming PM, Rudd takes his seat across the chamber from Abbott for the last day of Parliament before the election.
- The prominent critic of Australia's treatment of asylum seekers outlines his case against offshore detention.
- Rudd becomes PM and Gillard announces her resignation, on the same day independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott also quit.
- The Coalition wins control of Federal Parliament with a comfortable 21-seat margin.
- Overseas media compare Australia's new prime minister with "compassionate conservative" George W. Bush.
- Queensland One Nation candidate embarrassed in error-ridden television interview.
- Then foreign minister Bob Carr responds to death of conservative political hero with an anecdote alleging racist comments.
Damien Nowicki is producer for Fairfax Media's federal politics coverage online.