HIGHS AND LOWS OF THE 2019 YEAR IN POLITICS
– Nationals MP Andrew Broad announces he’ll quit politics at the election so as not to remain a “half-laughing stock” after a scandal involving a younger woman.
– Mass fish die-offs in western NSW focus attention on the health of the Murray-Darling Basin and the drought.
– Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack attacks extreme animal activist group Aussie Farms for publishing a map with farmers’ locations.
– Olympics ski champion Zali Steggall announces she will run against Tony Abbott in the seat of Warringah.
– Kenneth Hayne delivers his banking royal commission report. The government responds by beefing up regulators and ending conflicted remuneration.
– Speaker Tony Smith and Senate President Scott Ryan reveal hackers have infiltrated the computer systems of Parliament House.
– Parliament passes the medevac bill against the wishes of government.
– United Australia Party senator Brian Burston and Pauline Hanson’s chief of staff James Ashby have a physical altercation in the corridors of Parliament House, after which Burston smears blood on Hanson’s office door. Ashby is banned from the building.
– Former deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop announces she will retire at the next election.
– Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveils his next climate policy, adding $2 billion over 10 years to the Emissions Reduction Fund and rebadging it as the Climate Solutions Fund.
– The last four children in immigration detention on Nauru fly to the US.
– Ita Buttrose is appointed as ABC chair.
– Ministers Christopher Pyne and Steve Ciobo announce they will retire at the election.
– Morrison visits Christmas Island for a media conference about reopening the detention centre. It remains empty until late August when a Sri Lankan family is sent there from their home in Biloela, Queensland, to await deportation.
– The Disability royal commission is established.
– Fraser Anning slaps a boy who cracked an egg over his head after the independent far-right senator blamed the Christchurch mosque shootings on “Muslim fanatics”.
– The government announces it will cut the annual migration cap by 30,000 to 160,000 a year for the next four years.
– Australia finalises a trade deal with Indonesia.
– Morrison hauls in tech titans including Facebook and YouTube to discuss planned laws banning violent offences from being broadcast online.
– Al Jazeera reports One Nation’s Queensland leader Steve Dickson and Hanson’s chief of staff James Ashby asked the powerful American gun lobby for $US20 million ($A29 million) to help roll back gun control in Australia. The pair defend themselves by saying they were drunk and were set up by a “Middle Eastern spy”.
– Treasurer Josh Frydenberg promises further income tax cuts in the federal budget, a surplus in 2019/20 and $100 billion in infrastructure spending.
– The federal government approves the groundwater plan for the controversial Adani Carmichael mine, one of its last steps to being started.
– The federal election campaign kicks off.
– Opposition leader Bill Shorten has a fiery exchange with a reporter over the economic cost of Labor’s emission reduction target.
– Grattan Institute finds public trust in governments is at a 50-year low.
– Morrison allows media into his Pentecostal Horizon Church for the first time to film him celebrating Easter Sunday.
– An anti-Adani mine convoy organised by former Greens leader Bob Brown arrives in the central Queensland town of Clermont where protesters clash with locals.
– Shorten comes out on top in the first election debate.
– Morrison and Shorten face off in a second debate in Brisbane. Shorten is declared the winner.
– The third leaders’ debate takes place at the National Press Club in Canberra, with no clear winner.
– Former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke dies, overshadowing the election campaign.
– Morrison wins in a surprise victory (77 seats), which he describes as a miracle and attributes to “quiet Australians”.
– Shorten steps aside from the Labor leadership.
– Morrison announces a new ministry line-up. Arthur Sinodinos and Mitch Fifield are given diplomatic postings.
– Anthony Albanese and Richard Marles become Labor’s new leadership team after all other contenders drop out.
– Morrison visits the Solomon Islands, D-Day commemorations in England, and Singapore on his first overseas trip since winning re-election.
– Albanese announces Labor’s new-look frontbench, which includes fallen leader Shorten.
– Police raid News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst’s house over a 2018 story detailing an alleged government proposal to spy on Australians. The next day police raid ABC Sydney headquarters.
– The Reserve Bank cuts interest rates to 1.25 per cent.
– Morrison dines with US President Donald Trump in Osaka ahead of the G20 summit.
– The Reserve Bank cuts interest rates to one per cent.
– Personal income tax cuts are passed.
– Labor and the Greens pursue cabinet minister Angus Taylor over meetings with environment officials in relation to critically endangered grasslands at the centre of an investigation involving companies he part-owns.
– Liberal MP Andrew Hastie warns against underestimating China, comparing it to an aggressive Nazi Germany.
– Morrison attends the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu, where he comes under fire for Australia’s low-level action on climate change.
– Morrison announces Australia will join an international military mission to help guard oil tankers from attacks in the Strait of Hormuz, south of Iran.
– Morrison is feted at a White House state dinner.
– The Reserve Bank cuts interest rates to 0.75 per cent.
– The media launches the Right To Know campaign, calling for reforms to protect public interest journalism.
– The aged care Royal Commission interim report, titled Neglect, seeks action on restraints, young people in care and home care packages.
– A debate over early bushfires and the impact of climate change rages.
– Angus Taylor finds himself in trouble again, over a letter to Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore.
– Morrison meets with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
– The government is blindsided by One Nation voting down the “ensuring integrity” bill, but reintroduces it.
– The controversial Medevac bill is repealed with the backing of Jacqui Lambie.
– Former Liberal senator Cory Bernardi quits parliament.