2010 year in review


December 16, 2010

Here is a summary of 2010 in another big years for news.

Australian Federal politics

The year really began on December 1, 2009, when Tony Abbott defeated Malcolm Turnbull 42 votes to 41 in a leadership challenge that then saw the Coalition reverse its support for the Government's ETS.

Tony Abbott then ran a highly effective wrecking campaign on the ETS as a "great big new tax on everything" which led to the Government surprisingly junking the scheme until 2013 or until major powers such as China, India and the US had signed up for action.

This lead to a precipitous decline in Kevin's Rudd's support which he attempted to turn around when the Henry Tax Review was revealed on May 2 and we got the RSPT.

The big miners quickly went to war and Labor's support plummeted in the resource rich states of Queensland and WA, so much so that Labor's Right faction decided to remove Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister once Julia Gillard stepped up to challenge during an extraordinary night of drama on June 23.

Rudd then gave an excruciatingly emotional press conference conceding the next morning, then fronted Question Time and declared he was sticking with politics.

Gillard took the job with great aplomb but her strategy of quick fixes to the mining tax, assylum seeker and ETS problems proved difficult when she called an August 21 election on July 17, just 24 days after knifing her leader.

Between Mark Latham stunts, real Julia, damaging leaks and a people's assembly to deal with climate change, the glow soon wore off Australia's first female Prime Minister and a huge swing in Queensland left a hung parliament and a Government at the mercy of four independents.

Another 17 days later we then got a 17 minute speech from Rob Oakshott delivering salvation to Julia Gillard and promises the sun would shine in.

Kevin Rudd landed the foreign minister consolation prize as expected but quickly ran into trouble with the biggest story of the year...Wikileaks.

And Gillard's tough year is finishing with the Christmas Island boat tragedy where 28 people, including 7 children, perished yesterday.

It was at one level a very shallow election campaign with many three word slogans and the leaders said sod all about foreign policy.

But Abbott exceeded all expectations to almost snatch it - a very effective negative campaigner.

Wikileaks

This will prove to be the story of the decade. The biggest drop in history with frank US diplomatic assessments fracturing relationships all over the world.

Grace Mugabe is suing over claims of diamond profiteering, BP had an Azerbeijan gas blowout and there's still 249,000 to come.

Queenslander Julian Assange is locked up, the US is in damage control and we've only seen.

The Australian angle has revealed some so-called "protected sources" for the US, such as Mark Arbib, plus flogged Kevin Rudd's foreign record, albeit during the Bush administration.

US clearly want the docs back, keen to get Assange to US.

Use of mainstream media has been a killer tactic to maximise impact.

Global politics

The English speaking world took a jump to the Right when the Republicans won control of the House in the November mid-term elections and David Cameron ousted Gordon Brown, albeit after forging an unprecedented alliance with the left wing Liberal Democrats led by Nick Clegg.

The British were then subjected to extraordinary tax increases and public spending cuts as the borrowing requirement hit 150 billion pounds in 2010-11 or a remarkable 12.6% of GDP. Total UK debt is now approaching one trillion pounds.

The same problems hit the smaller Greek and Irish economies which suffered the ignominy of EU bailouts to cope with surging debts.

The rioting continues in Greece after a $150 billion package was approved by the EU and IMF in May and then the crisis engulfed Ireland in November which received a $90 billion bailout in November after the budget deficit hit 30% of GDP courtesy of bank bailouts. So much for a 3% budget deficit maximum.

The rise and rise of social media and changing media

The Apple Ipad has proved another hit at newspapers and social media is gathering pace.

The Ipad will finish 2010 with about 8.5 million sales. Meanwhile, the Iphone overtook Blackberrry with 14 million sales in the September quarter alone.

Social media is another emerging phenomenon with Facebook destroying Myspace with its 400 million accounts globally, half of which are accessed every day.

Twitter now has 175 million accounts and just raised $200m valuing the company at $US3.7 billion.

The political pace of change seems to have sped up... is that to do with the rise of social media and twitter etc?

It's been a huge year for social media – the power of twitter – to break stories including the BP Oil spill.

After the Haiti earthquake, Doctors Without Borders was unable to get clearance to land a plane full of doctors. American journalist Ann Curry used Twitter to convince the US Air Force to let them land.

And some major PR disasters on twitter with BPGlobalPR describing the oil spill like this: "Catastrophe is a strong word. Let's all agree to call it a whoopsie daisy."

Victorian, Tasmanian and South Australian elections

In terms of state elections, South Australian Premier Mike Rann snuck back for a third term in March and Labor's Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett looked gone for all money before forging a power sharing deal with the Greens which yielded the minor party two Cabinet posts.

Tasmanian Labor has ruled since 1998 and with NSW Labor and Queensland Labor set to fall in the next 16 months, it will probably end up the longest serving government.

The Victorian election produced another shock when 250,000 Victorians switched from voting for Julia Gillard in August to Ted Baillieu in November. And who would have thought the Coalition would get control of both houses with the barest of margins.

Global Economy:

The recovery from the GFC has been haphazard. Whilst some smaller sovereign states have teetered many of the big financial players such as Citigroup, AIG and General Motors have paid back some of their government largesse.

GM paid back another $2 billion yesterday and with $23 billion of the $50 billion returned, taxpayers losses are now down to about $10 billion.

Indeed, the overall US taxpayer losses from the $US1.5 trillion bailout program have been cut from $US109 billion in March to just $US25 billion now.

The biggest recipient of support - insurance giant AIG which scored a staggering $US191.3 billion at the peak - now only owes $120 billion and the projected actual loss is down to just $US14 billion.

However, with unemployment still stubbornly above 10% and a budget deficit

In terms of global markets, the All Ords plunged 41% in 2008 but has recovered from 3668 at the end of 2009, to post a gain so far this year of 32%. That said, today's close of 4869 is still 2000 points or 29% shy of the record high of 6873 hit on November 1, 2007.

The dollar was at US89c 12 months ago so it has stacked on another 10% and hit parity on October 16 when I was in New York attending News Corp AGM.

Australian interest rates and banking

Official interest rates jumped from 3.75% to 4.75% over the year, as we reversed that remarkable 425 basis point cut during the GFC from 7.25% to just 3% in April 2009.

The standard variable interest rate has since rocketed from 5.7% in April 2009 to 7.81% which has got to hurt when there are about $900 billion loans outstanding.

Banks lifted by more so big fights ensued and Big Four are tonight worth about $265bn.

Resources boom is back

Mining stocks still going gangbusters. Indeed BHP tried to pay almost $50bn for Canadian Potash Company and is today worth $253 billion, only behind Exxon Mobil ($US362bn) and Apple ($US293bn) in market value.

Rio Tinto is now worth $170 billion and the two giant abandoned a planned merger of its iron ore divisions in the face of strong Chinese and European opposition.

The mining boom has seen Andrew Forrest re-emerge as Australia's richest citizen with almost $7 billion and other billionaires such as Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart are increasingly throwing their weight around after the proposed RSPT politicised a whole generation of miners.

Mining tragedies

And speaking of mining, we had two contrasting mining accidents this years. On 5 August, a cave in at the San Jose copper-gold mine in the Chilean desert left 33 men trapped 700 metres below ground. The miners survived underground for a record 69 days.

The euphoria this rescue generated was in stark contrast to the tragedy in New Zealand earlier this month at the Pike River Coal mine in Greymouth where 29 miners, including two Australians, perished.

Sport:

Collingwood supporters endured plenty of anxiety after the first AFL grand final draw in 33 years, but they prevailed comfortably over St Kilda in the replay to give Australia's most popular sporting club its first premiership since 1990.

Cricket has been troubled on and off the field with more match fixing scandals engulfing the Pakistani seem and Australia appears destined to lose the Ashes at home.

It was one of Australia's leanest years in a while on the global sporting stage. We failed to make the last 16 of the soccer world up in South Africa, largely thanks to a 4-0 flogging in the opening game to Germany. A brave 1-1 draw with Ghana and a 2-1 win over Serbia was not enough and the squad looked old and slow, although Brett Holman was a revelation up front.

Even worse, we missed out on hosting both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup suffering the ignominy of going out in the first round with just a single vote.

Still, at least we flogged all comers in the Commonwealth Games with 74 golds and 177 medals overall. Next in line was host India with just 38 golds and 101 medals overall. Who can forget Geoff Heugill's effort in losing 45 kilos to then win the 100m butterfly and Alicia Coutts topped the individual medal tally with 5 golds in the pool.

Mark Webber had his best formula one season but missed out in the final race in Abu Dhabi to finish third behind his Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel.

The Waratahs could only manage a semi-final finish in the Super 14s which delivered an all South African final.

Australia's Torah Bright redeemed her previous mishaps to score a memorable gold medal in a successful Australian winter Olympics in Vancouver last February won first Winter Olympics medal

And who can forget the Melbourne Storm Salary Cap scandal, which saw the CEO and all independent directors fired, whilst the News Ltd team was stripped of two premiershops.

Sam Stosur overcame Justin Hennin and Serena Williams at the French Open but couldn't finish the job in the final against Italian Franceso Schiavoni.

Jessica Watson managed to become the first individual to sail solo around the world in 210 days but she's been banned from the Sydney to Hobart - you must be 18.

Canonisation of Mary Mackillop

Became Australia's first saint in a service at St Peter in October. Fitzroy girl made good way back in the late 1800s.

A nightmare year for Qantas - volcanoes and all

Qantas remains the only major airline never to have suffered a major air disaster but it was still a shocker for the national carrier with the exploding Roll Royce engine on a London-bound flight out of Singapore in November causing a 3 hour ordeal for the 469 people on board.

Qantas even had a bad today when regulators allowed Virgin Blue and Etihad to team up and provide stronger competition.

The Volcano in Iceland cost global airline industry billions with the biggest airspace shut down since WW2 from April 15 until April 20. It had been silent for 200 years but really let itself be known if not pronounced correctly.