2017: The year in review
There are moments that are etched in history forever, those ‘I remember where I was’ days, like Princess Diana’s death, or September 11, or the assassination of JFK. But 2017 has sometimes felt like an entire year that will be unforgettable.
In decades to come, you’ll shake your head about where your jaw was as you watched a reality-TV producer with comedic hair and as much political nous as an angry red rooster become leader of the Free World.
And how Australian politicians flailed at legalising gay marriage, and legitimising their own Aussie citizenship. And that’s before we even get to the Korean missile crisis and the creeping dread of terrorism. It’s been a hell of a year; here are just some of the highlights.
Donald Trump was inaugurated forty-fifth President of the United States in front of a crowd so large it could be seen from Saturn (according to his office), while a day later a mere two million people took part in the worldwide Women’s March against Trump.
"America will no longer settle for anything but the best." – Donald Trump
In Melbourne, a car ploughed into pedestrians in Bourke Street Mall, killing six people and injuring 27. Fears that it was a terrorist attack were later allayed after a 26-year-old man was arrested and charged, but the horror of the needless deaths remains.
In more positive news, Roger Federer won the Australian Open, over Rafael Nadal, to record an incredible eighteenth Grand Slam title.
Like a bulldog attempting to leave a China shop, the UK continued its calamitous Brexit from Europe, with British MPs voting in favour of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.
North Korea’s sabre rattling really ramped up, with a ballistic missile test, and the world breathed in sharply and looked to Twitter to see what the US President would do.
He was quite busy, however, accepting the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn over his dealings with Russia.
On 21 February, disaster struck Melbourne again, with a plane crashing into a shopping centre next to Essendon Airport, killing all five people on board.
The month closed with Moonlight winning Best Picture (eventually, after an envelope malfunction) at the Academy Awards.
Researchers studying Aboriginal DNA at the University of Adelaide reported they found evidence the Aboriginal population dates back more than 50,000 years.
In a move that made them look less prehistoric, the members of the world’s oldest golf club, Muirfield in Scotland, voted to admit women for the first time, after 273 years.
In the north, data showed the lowest ever winter covering of ice in the Arctic.
A horrific terrorist attack on London’s Westminster Bridge killed four people and injured 40.
Bob Dylan received his Nobel Prize for Literature on 1 April. This did not turn out to be an April Fool’s prank.
President Trump got his hands on the missiles for the first time, and bombed an airfield in Syria.
In Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May shocked everyone by announcing a snap election.
And in sport, Spaniard Sergio Garcia won a famous play-off victory over Justin Rose in the eighty-first US Masters golf tournament.
The rolling success story that is Apple hit a new milestone, becoming the first company to be worth more than US$800 billion.
There was also good news for France, after Emmanuel Macron defeated Marine Le Pen in the country’s presidential election.
That other president hit the headlines again after dismissing FBI Director James Comey. No-one was surprised when it turned out his reason for doing so was "the Russia thing".
"A new page in our long history is coming." – Emmanuel Macron
Terror struck the UK again in appalling fashion after a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured 59, many of them children, as they were leaving an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena.
In a decision that may well be remembered in infamy, President Trump pulled the US, one of the world’s largest polluters, out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Yet another terror attack, in the Borough Market in London, saw three men drive a van into pedestrians and then stab and kill seven people, and wound 48. Two of those killed were Australian.
Australian Cardinal George Pell was charged with sexual offences and announced he would return to Australia to face them.
And Facebook announced it had reached a staggering two billion monthly users.
Germany voted to legalise same-sex marriage.
Unlike America, Aussies don’t normally talk about the Constitution a lot, but it became a big thing this month, in particular Section 44, which saw the Greens deputy leader, Scott Ludlam, become the first of many politicians to resign after finding out he was a dual citizen.
In more chilling news, a terrorist plot to bomb an international flight out of Sydney was foiled, with four men arrested.
In global news, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos became the world’s richest man, valued at US$91.4 billion, for half a day, before Bill Gates took the title back again.
France announced it would ban all petrol and diesel-powered cars by 2040.
The fun and games in Canberra continued as Pauline Hanson wore a burqa into the Senate, and the Government announced it had found an excellent way to spend A$122 million on a non-binding postal plebiscite asking Australians whether they actually support marriage equality, or if it was just what they kept telling pollsters.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce also became the most high-profile victim of the citizenship scandal, after discovering he was a Kiwi.
Floyd Mayweather Jr won his stupidest fight ever, against MMA fighter Conor McGregor in Vegas.
And 16 people were killed in Barcelona when a terrorist drove into crowds of tourists.
It was a big month for women, with Rebel Wilson awarded a record $4.56 million in a libel case against Bauer Media.
Saudi Arabia also announced it would finally let women drive, the last place on the planet to do so.
Hurricane Irma, the most powerful storm ever to roil over the Atlantic Ocean, left seven million US homes without power.
Hurricane Trump, meanwhile, gave a speech to the UN in threatening to "totally destroy North Korea".
And the IOC announced that Paris (2024) and Los Angeles (2028) had won the right to host another Olympic Games each.
Scandal was in the air, after The New York Times accused movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of a history of sexually harassing women in his employ.
Within a few days, he was fired from his own company, and by the end of the month accusations were flying about others in the industry, including actor Kevin Spacey.
In Spain, Catalonia voted for its independence in a referendum and was told by Spain that it still couldn’t have it.
And pollution was linked to one in six deaths worldwide, or as many as nine million in 2015 alone, according to a report in The Lancet.
SBS CEO Michael Ebeid won The CEO Magazine’s CEO of the Year award in Melbourne on 15 November, a truly historic day in Australia.
Not only was the Yes vote revealed to have won in the same-sex marriage plebiscite, sparking wild celebrations, but that same night the Socceroos finally secured their place at the World Cup in Russia with a 3–1 win over Honduras.
The sexual-harassment saga consumed England as well, with UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon forced to resign over his behaviour towards women. ‘The Paradise Papers’ were leaked, exposing the off-shore tax tricks of some of the world’s richest people, including Bono and the Queen.
After a painful and drawn-out process, the Australian Government finally passed the law that allows same-sex couples to marry.
The sky stubbornly refused to fall in. Many of the politicians who stood in the way of the process happening many years earlier lined up to smile and take credit for the achievement.
President Trump fired off more Tweets and fired more people, but thankfully didn’t fire any missiles at North Korea.