An Incredibly (Incredibly) Comprehensive GuideEMILY MELLER recaps some of the biggest ups and downs of the year that was until this article was written. If the world has ended since then and we missed it please excuse our inadequacy.
It’s been a tumultuous year for the typical UTS student by any standard. Between our politicians throwing tantrums, random weather events, university bomb scares and everyone’s new favourite TV Series ‘ICAC’, it’s almost enough to forget that in the scheme of things we are but insignificant dots. Tiny grains of sand, crushed every day under the weight of the universe, the same one that will eventually cause the sun to explode and engulf everything wet have ever known in its unrelenting fiery embrace.
But anyway. Here are the highlights from the year that was, month by month, based on no particular criteria other than the fact we really needed to fill these pages up with something, and I have a lot of free time.
Full disclosure: I was not in Australia in January. What I can tell you is all the news coverage we got in the UK press around then.
None. Diddly-squat. Bugger-all.
It’s easy to forget we are all the way on the ass-end of the world, and that no one really gives much of a crap about what we get up to. With that in mind, let’s skip to…
On Feb 2 Phillip Seymour Hoffman passed away. Arguably one of the best character actors of his generation, Phillip Seymour Hoffman died from a heroin overdose after a long battle with addiction. We revisited Capote (2005), Doubt (2012) and Almost Famous (2000).
Tony Abbott made his ‘Closing the Gap’ address as PM. The ‘Closing the Gap’ targets (referring to statistical gaps in areas such as literacy, employment outcomes and life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians) were set back in 2009. Abbott commented that in this area of public policy, parliament is most unified.
And then who can forget the travesty that rocked an oversized-fruit-loving nation? On Feb 24 a fast-food chain who does not deserved to be mentioned (since that’s exactly what they’d want and we don’t negotiate with fruit stealers) admitted they stole the Big Mango from Bowen. We still don’t quite know why.
In more serious news, the mystery of Flight MH370 was solved by Courtney Love on March 17. Her secret life as a high-ranking intelligence agent was revealed when she posted a satellite image with the caption “I’m no expert, but this does look like a plane…”
Suuure you’re not. We’re on to you, Agent Love.
But seriously, the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps, died on March 19. We obviously didn’t know him at all, but from watching Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends episode on the ’God Hates Fags’ crusaders, we’d be curious to see how the power-void plays out for one of America’s most hated families.
Australia became the first country to recognise a third gender when the High Court upheld the appeal of Norrie (and kind of stuck it to the NSW Government in the process). Not so much judicial activism as a clerical error by the office of Births, Deaths and Marriages, nonetheless we can claim to be the first country to recognise gender-neutrality.
#Grangegate saw Barry O’Farrell resign over one whopper of a ‘memory lapse’, thanks to his good old-fashioned note writing etiquette. That’s what you get for being polite, kids. Being polite and really freaking forgetful.
We were off to an explosive start when James Packer and David Gyngell had fisticuffs, but by far the highlight was the production of a News Corp watermarked picture.
@NewsCorpWatermark was also born.
— News Corp Watermark (@NewsCorpWaterma) May 5, 2014
In a total non-event, Christopher Pyne did not use the C-word in Parliament and frankly, don’t you all think you are being a bit childish banging on about it? He has much more important work to do, like defending the [SPOILER ALERT] doomed Chaplaincy program and explaining why charging an interest on HECS definitely 112% won’t impact a young female lawyer who takes maternity leave because the real reality here, Sarah, is that women are “well represented” as teachers and nurses so any perceived inequality is a non-issue. The grub.
Then it was time for *foreboding music* the BUDGET. We do not have enough words to go into it here, but we know what you’re thinking and we’re with you – ROADS AND PLANES YEAH!
But it is just quickly worth noting that Labor decided to oppose a few budget cuts they themselves proposed, because the money saved didn’t go where they wanted it to. Hypocrisy all round. Okay enough money-chat, it’s bad manners, dontcha know?
The happiest news was undoubtedly that Australia’s inaugural cat cafe opened in Melbourne, hygiene be damned. Also, they sell “Crazy Cat Lady Action Figures” if you’re looking for the perfect Mothers’ Day / Anniversary gift.
As alluded to earlier, the High Court handed down the decision to block the funding for the Chaplaincy Program on the grounds that they fall outside of the government’s power under the Constitution. Or: since we are meant to be a secular country, you can’t just fund religious organisations under the guise of education.
Big Day Out also got cancelled. Outspoken festival promoter AJ Maddah (also responsible for Soundwave) has alluded to BDO 2016 so don’t fret, the loose-fitting #Straya flag singlet industry won’t die just yet.
The carbon tax was axed on July 17, making Australia the first country in the world to repeal climate change legislation. “This is great news for Australian families and for our nation’s small businesses,” was the official Coalition statement.
Ian Thorpe was also interviewed by Parkinson, marking a rarely confessional and extraordinary moment.
The #teamaustralia mantra was rolled out. It was a confusing move: on one hand, s18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was not repealed. On the other they also tightened Counter-Terrorism laws and proposed Data Retention laws (guys, just chill, aye, it’s just like we’re looking over all your envelopes. Your electronic envelopes that track your location, the time you got the envelope and maybe I’m not actually sure but maybe also the history of every envelope you have ever looked at).
We’ll just leave this here.
— Bean (@SomersetBean) August 5, 2014
The first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Maths (the Fields Medal), Maryam Mirzakhani, accepted the award with the sentiment: “I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists.” You heard her, nerds. Get… experimenting.
Scott Morrison announced the winding down of Manus Island detention centre. While not exactly a triumph, with the Government entertaining options such as Cambodia to replace PNG, it does seem to show that offshore processing in a third country is deeply problematic, and that Australians don’t condone acts of violence or cruel conditions.
Emma Watson made an address to the UN about the He For She campaign. She said, “If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are — we can all be freer”, and extended a formal invitation for men to identify themselves as feminists. As far as we are concerned, that is all there is to say about it – and it’s something that needed to be said.
So that pretty much covers everything. All of 2014. All wrapped up. Oh wait, what about Clive Palmer? Okay: Clive Palmer.
There, now we’re really done. What a year it’s been.