Australia. In the wake of the cyclone Debbie, the states of Queensland and New South Wales were hit by major floods in April. At least six people died and tens of thousands of city residents on the east coast were evacuated. Around 100,000 households were without electricity in the storm, which also destroyed roads and bridges and forced mines to close.
In June, a man was shot dead and a woman held hostage in a suburb of Melbourne. According to Countryaah.com, the incident was classified as a terrorist act when the perpetrator, Yacqub Khayre, told a TV channel that the attack was in support of the terrorist networks al-Qaeda and IS. Following the hostage crisis, the government introduced a three-month arms race, as Khayre used illegal firearms. The amnesty meant that the residents could hand in their illegal weapons without risking prosecution.
The state broadcaster ABC revealed in July that Australian forces have committed brutal assaults in connection with the country’s military presence in Afghanistan. The news prompted the Australian Regulatory Authority to launch an investigation into suspected war crimes between 2005 and 2016.
Preparations for a terrorist attack targeting an aircraft departing from Sydney to the Middle East were revealed in July. For the crime, two brothers were suspected who had been instructed by a high-ranking person within the terrorist group IS, according to the federal police. The men had also begun plans for an attack with poison gas hydrogen sulphide in connection with a public place. After the incident, security measures were tightened at the country’s airports indefinitely.
A constitutional rule, which means that Australians with dual citizenship must not be elected to Parliament, created confusion during the country’s top political strata during the year. In July, it was revealed that Minister of Natural Resources Matt Canavan had Italian citizenship, which promptly led Canavan to leave his post. Then the spotlight fell on another minister, the deputy leader of the Nationalist Party Fiona Nash, whose case was raised in the Supreme Court after she announced that she could be British, since her father was from Scotland. Furthermore, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, whose New Zealand citizenship was confirmed by the New Zealand government, was forced to resign in October. In November, John Alexander, from Conservative Liberals, left Parliament when he could possibly be a citizen of Britain.
The Australian winter was, according to data from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), the warmest ever since temperature measurements began in 1910. The winter months, which run from June to August, were 1.9 degrees above the normal temperature of 21.8 degrees. According to BOM, the warmer trend was largely due to changing levels of greenhouse gases. In the state of New South Wales, summer was also unusually hot. In February, record high temperatures of 47.6 degrees were measured in Ivanhoe and in Penrith west of Sydney 46.9 degrees.
Over 50,000 illegal weapons were reported to have been submitted in October as a result of the three-month arms race that began in July. According to Prime Minister Turnbull, the response had been “overwhelming”.
In the same month, media reported that Australian Cardinal George Pell will appear in a Melbourne court in March 2018. Pell is the Vatican’s chief financial officer and is suspected of having assaulted at least three boys in the Australian city of Ballarat in the late 1970s. Pell has previously been accused of keeping secret priests’ sexual assaults in Ballarat, where he worked.
At the end of October, the heavily criticized Australian refugee camp on the island of Manus in Papua Guinea was shut down, after the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea 2016 ruled that it was illegal. Despite the decision, Australia refused to accept the refugees, which they hoped to move instead, including to transit centers in Papua New Guinea and to the United States. Under an agreement between Australia and the United States in 2016, the United States would receive around 1,200 boat refugees from the Australian camps in Papua New Guinea and in Nauru in exchange for Australia receiving refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. But US newly elected President Donald Trump has been skeptical of the deal and demanded a thorough check on the refugees. According to media reports in October, the United States had so far received 54 refugees from the camps.
The Australian Statistics Office announced in November that 62% of the 12.7 million people who took part in a voluntary postal vote on same-sex marriage had voted in favor of allowing same-sex marriage. The vote meant that Prime Minister Turnbull would put forward a bill on same-sex marriage for voting in Parliament.
Australia – Canberra
Canberra, the capital of Australia, located in the Australian Capital Territory, in the south-east of the country; 424,700 residents (2015). Canberra is located on a plain at the foot of the Australian Alps, on either side of Molonglo, a tributary to Murrumbidgee. The city is the administrative center of the country. Tourism is becoming increasingly important, and Canberra also has some light industry.
Canberra was founded in 1824 by herdsmen under the name Canberry or Canbury, which in 1836 was changed to Canberra. It was then an insignificant society, but in 1909 Canberra was named Australia’s new capital. Construction began in 1913 following an international urban planning competition, which was won the year before by American Walter Burley Griffin. The work was down during World War I, but in 1927 the transfer of the capital’s functions from Melbourne began.
Griffin’s city plan for Canberra is based on a system of circles connected by main roads with Capital Hill and an artificial lake as the center of a vast residential town. During the 1960s and 1970s, the plan was modified in a modernist spirit and was first restored with the new Parliament House on and under Capital Hill, inaugurated for the nation’s 200th anniversary in 1988, and designed by the architectural team of Mitchell / Giurgola & Thorp. The spatial arrangement of the Parliament House tells a chronicle of Australia’s history from the time of the urinals (the court), the European arrival (the foyer), the federation (the great hall) and up to the present (the Members’ Hall). The Provisional Parliament House from 1927 by JS Murdoch has been composed as a screen for the future.
The area reserved for cultural institutions between Capital Hill and Lake Burley Griffin has been gradually filled with new buildings, for example. High Court (1980) by Chris Kringas together with architect firm Edwards, Madigan, Torzillo & Briggs, who also designed the adjacent National Gallery (1982), and Science Center (1988), designed by Lawrence Nield.
Other cultural institutions include the Australian National University (1936), the Mount Stromlo Observatory (1924) and the National Library (1968). In Canberra is the headquarters of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization).