BUSHFIRES: Just weeks into what looms as a long, dangerous summer, bushfires claim six lives, destroy more than 700 homes and burn 2.7 million hectares. A week-long state of emergency is declared in November amid catastrophic conditions. The fires prompt furious debate over climate change during devastating drought and water shortages affecting most of NSW. State and federal governments announce millions in assistance packages for farmers and regional communities enduring the worst big dry in living memory.
POLITICS: Gladys Berejiklian's government holds on to power at the March state election. The premier rules out pill-testing at music festivals despite a coroner's call for it to be trialled following an inquest into six drug-related deaths. Building defects that forced residents from their homes in two Sydney towers prompt a building industry reforms bill. And abortion is decriminalised in NSW after 119 years, more than 70 hours of debate, public protests and threats of a leadership spill. Meanwhile the Labor opposition under Jodi McKay endures an ICAC investigation into whether a Chinese billionaire was the true source of $100,000 said to be donated to the party by 12 people from a 2015 fundraising dinner.
COURTS: Geoffrey Rush is awarded $2.9 million after winning his defamation case against the publisher of The Daily Telegraph and journalist Jonathon Moran. Justice Michael Wigney finds they were reckless regarding the truth when they reported Rush had been accused of inappropriate behaviour during a Sydney theatre production of King Lear. An appeal is before the courts.
Australian Associated Press