Australia. In February, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
introduced a ban on sexual relations between ministers and
their staff. The decision was made following the revelations
that Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce had an infidelity
affair with his press secretary, who became pregnant.
History has evolved into a political scandal. In addition,
when a woman accused Joyce of sexual harassment, he resigned
as Deputy Prime Minister and as party leader of the
Conservative National Party. In public, Barnaby Joyce
apologized to his wife - then left her and moved in with his
As the new Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the
National Party, Michael McCormack was appointed.
In April, the Australian media company Fairfax Media
stated that China had discussions with Vanuatu about setting
up a military base there. According to Fairfax Media, a
military establishment in Vanuatu, located east of
Australia, would affect the balance of power in the region
that is currently dominated by the United States. According
Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu denied the information.
In a report in the journal Nature, researchers determined
that the mass deaths among the corals in the Great Barrier
Reef were worse than expected. Nearly one-third of the Great
Barrier Reef, according to the researchers, had
fundamentally changed and risked never fully recovering. The
cause of coral death, which worst hit the northernmost part
of the reef, was rising surface water temperatures caused by
climate change and an unusually severe variant of the El
Niņo weather phenomenon in 2016.
Even the sea turtle's survival was threatened by climate
change as almost only females are born during heat waves.
According to a study published in the journal Current
Biology, 99.1% of turtle cubs from the Great Barrier Reef's
northernmost beaches were females.
To protect the Great Barrier Reef, Australia invested $
500 million in April. However, the effort was criticized by
the climate movement 350.org, whose founder Bill McKibben
said it doesn't matter as long as the plans for the disputed
coal mine Carmichael in Queensland continue.
In May, Vatican CFO Cardinal George Pell was brought to
trial in a Melbourne court. Pell was charged with multiple
cases of sexual abuse in Australia during his time as priest
and archbishop during the 1970s and 1980s. Pell is regarded
as the third highest ranked person in the Catholic Church.
Parliament's intelligence committee chairman Andrew
Hastie in May singled out Sino-Australian businessman Chau
Chak Wing for paying bribes to former UN Ambassador John
Ashe, who in 2015 was arrested on suspicion of receiving
money from several Chinese businessmen who wanted to
influence the UN's operations.
In 2017, Chau Chak Wing was also accused by two
Australian media companies of donating millions of dollars
to Australian politicians. According to Andrew Hastie, Chau
Chak Wing had links to the Chinese Communist Party,
something that Chau himself has denied.
Last spring, last year's debacle surrounding the dual
citizenship of politicians led to new resignations in
parliament. Among other things, Labor's member Katy
Gallagher was forced to leave Parliament because she had
British citizenship when she was elected. Australians with
dual citizenship may not sit in Parliament for loyalty
reasons under a 1901 rule.
China was back in focus in June when Foreign Minister
Julie Bishop criticized the great power for persuading
Australia's largest airline Qantas to refrain from calling
both Taiwan and Hong Kong and Macao independent countries.
In the same month, 21 asylum seekers from Australia's
refugee camps in the island nation of Nauru flew to the
United States, according to an agreement that Australia
signed with former US President Barack Obama. Also in
January, the United States received refugees (40 people)
from the Australian camp on the island of Manus in Papua New
According to information from the TT news agency, in
July, around 1,600 people were still in the refugee camps in
Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
Under the designation Super Saturday, the general
elections were held in July to replace five elected
representatives who have left their seats in Parliament due
to dual citizenship. According to the Australian Election
Commission (AEC), four of the seats went to the opposition
party Labor, while the fifth seat went to the Center
Alliance party. The election result was a defeat for the
Conservative coalition government.
In August, Australia banned Chinese telecom giant Huawei
from building new telecommunications networks in the
country. The decision was made with regard to national
security, as there were suspicions that Huawei had close
links with Chinese authorities and could therefore be used
for espionage. China-Australia relations have become
increasingly strained since Australia accused China of
interfering in its policy.
After a week of fighting within the Liberal Party, Prime
Minister Turnbull called for two party leader polls in just
a few days' intervals. In the first vote, Turnbull won over
challenger Peter Dutton. Dutton's defeat caused him to
resign as Minister of the Interior.
In a second vote, held after Peter Dutton gathered
support from the party, Turnbull was excluded from the
candidates. The election was instead between Peter Dutton,
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Finance Minister Scott
Morrison. Winning became the Social Conservative Morrison,
who replaced Turnbull as the country's prime minister and as
leader of the Liberal Party. Soon after, Julie Bishop
resigned as Foreign Minister. Malcolm Turnbull left his seat
in Parliament, triggering a filling election with the
government losing its scarce majority.
The filling election was held in October in the Southern
New District. In the election, independent candidate Kerryn
Phelps won over Liberal candidate Dave Sharma. As a result,
the coalition government lost its majority in Parliament.
Despite that, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that
the government, which hoped to get support from at least one
independent MP, would continue to govern the country until
the May 2019 election.
In November, one person died and at least two were
injured in Melbourne when a man in the car first hit people
and then went under attack with a knife. The terrorist group
IS took action through its propaganda channel Amaq.
The fire department stated in December that extremely
dangerous conditions existed in Queensland where over 100
forest fires raged. Later that month, warnings were issued
for more forest fires as the summer heat wave hit new
records. For example, in the city of Marble Bar in southern
Australia, 49.3 degrees were measured.