TND Newsmakers of the Year, Part 2, 11 to 2

The former AFL player has gone from strength to strength as a TV presenter, particularly after a video of him celebrating the Socceroos’ World Cup qualifying win over Peru went viral in June.

Armstrong joined Socceroos supporters yelling and jumping in excitement in a moment that proved a hit with Australians on social media, winning international attention from the likes of US talk show host John Oliver.

Within a week, he’d netted himself the Logies’ Graham Kennedy Award for most popular new talent – which he dedicated to his mum.

“The old cheese, my mum, she is a superstar. [She] has done everything for me and has been a superstar and I would not be up here without her, so a big thanks to her,” he said.

Armstrong later revealed he scored a pay rise from the ABC after the Logies win.

The TV presenter has also had to deal with the downsides of celebrity, taking to Twitter in November to share a racist message sent to his work email address.

Already a regular presence across TV channels, Armstrong has been announced as the host of ABC’s Great Australian Stuff, set to debut in 2023.

Wilson’s acting career is still going strong with roles in indie drama The Almond and the Seahorse and Netflix’s Senior Year, but it was her personal life that took centre stage in the media this year.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t entirely her choice.

In June, the actor was forced to come out to beat Sydney Morning Herald columnist Andrew Hornery to the punch, after he threatened to reveal her same-sex relationship without her consent.

Wilson revealed her relationship with US fashion designer Ramona Agruma in an Instagram post, after reportedly being set up by mutual friend and fellow Aussie actor Hugh Sheridan.

Following her relationship announcement, Wilson hit back at Hornery for forcing her hand.

“I just thought it was kind of grubby behaviour,” Wilson told The Australian.

“With the situation where a journalist is threatening to out you, you’ve got to hurry, and some people we didn’t get a chance to tell before it came out publicly. And that’s not ideal.”

In November, Wilson again surprised fans by announcing the birth of her “miracle” baby via surrogate.

The proud mum, who has previously opened up about her struggles with polycystic ovary syndrome, said the birth had been “years in the making”.

After leading Victoria through some of Australia’s longest and harshest lockdowns, some of Mr Andrews’ critics thought he was ripe for ousting at this year’s state elections.

Mr Andrews weathered a fierce campaign from Murdoch-owned media and opposition parties intent on capitalising on anti-lockdown sentiment to emerge victorious at November’s state election, though a third of the primary vote deserted both major parties.

“Friends, hope always defeats hate,” Mr Andrews said in his victory speech.

“A part of leadership, doing what is right, not being dominated and fixated into doing the popular thing.

“The other part of leadership is to move this state forward, and that is why it was so important that we put to the Victorian community a positive and optimistic plan.”

However, the year has not been all sunshine and roses for the Premier.

He took “full responsibility” in July after a joint report from the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission and Victorian Ombudsman found there was “egregious” misuse of taxpayer resources within the Victorian Labor Party.

Although no Victorian Labor MPs were criminally charged, within hours of the report’s release, Mr Andrews announced his government accepted its recommendations and would establish a parliamentary integrity commissioner and ethics committee.

The young Aussie talent’s life changed overnight in 2022, thanks to scoring a key role in one of the biggest TV productions of the year.

Sydney-born Alcock garnered international praise for her turn as Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon before handing the character off to Emma D’Arcy.

Alcock starred in only five episodes of the Game of Thrones spinoff, but she looks to have scored a permanent fan base. Her Instagram followers soared from 27,000 to more than one million within weeks of her debut.

The rest of the year brought the release of the second season of Australian series, Upright, which a Crikey report noted cracked the top-five pay TV programs.

Alcock’s star seems to be steadily soaring, but don’t expect her to start sticking to high-budget blockbusters just yet.

“For me, the endgame of my job isn’t to be a movie star,” she told Insider. She got more specific with Herald Sun, ruling out taking on any more fantasy roles.

“I have done it and I don’t need to do it again. I am just kind of waiting for the right project. I am not in a rush to jump on something.”

interest rate

It’s safe to say the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia has deeply affected the life of every Australian this year.

Dr Lowe copped a public battering this year after his prediction interest rates would not rise until 2024 was proved false.

The bank raised the cash rate in May – the first increase since 2010 – and has gone on to raise it again every month since, reaching a decade-high of 3.1 per cent in December.

It has put unprecedented pressure on the cost of living, from petrol and grocery prices to energy. But Dr Lowe stood by the rate hikes.

“High inflation damages our economy and makes life more difficult for people,” he said in December after the eighth lift in as many months.

However, he did issue an apology to Australians who took out a mortgage based on conditional forward guidance that predicted interest rates to remain at record lows until 2024.

“I’m certainly sorry if people listened to what we said and then acted on what we’d said and now regret what they had done,” he said.

“We didn’t communicate the caveats clearly enough … they didn’t hear the conditionality, and that was partly our fault.”

All eyes were on Australia’s national men’s soccer team as they wrapped up the year with a bang, enjoying historic success at this year’s FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar. 

After a surprise win against Peru to qualify, largely aided by goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne who went viral as the ‘grey Wiggle’ for his penalty shootout moves, the Socceroos won two consecutive games for the first time in their World Cup history and qualified for the knockout stage for the first time since 2006.

Though they were knocked out by a 2-1 defeat to Argentina, which went on to win the World Cup, their performance sparked strong national pride from a country that devotes most of its sporting passion to AFL and rugby league.

The team also came to world attention before Qatar with a video calling out the host nation’s human rights record.

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold said the team’s recent success is largely down to sacrifices during the pandemic, which created a “family culture of brotherhood”.

The Socceroos’ World Cup performance will be used by the Australian Professional Leagues to push the government for funding for the A-Leagues’ academy program, and sets the stage for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup set to be co-hosted by Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Alcott had a stellar start to January, being named Australian of the Year and making history as the first person with a disability to receive the honour.

The star tennis player and disability role model discussed his struggle for self-acceptance in the face of such invisibility in the media.

“My purpose today and every day is to change perceptions so people with disability can live the lives they deserve to live,” he tweeted after receiving the honour.

After announcing his plans to retire from tennis last year, Alcott made it all the way to the Australian Open final before being knocked out by Dutch player Sam Schroder.

This wrapped up the 31-year-old’s sparkling career, which included becoming the first man in any form of tennis to earn a ‘Golden Slam’ – winning all four majors and Paralympic or Olympic gold.

Alcott made the list of Australians invited to the Queen’s funeral in September, has continued to advocate for people with disabilities, and is reportedly mulling a stint in Hollywood.

“Growing up, I never saw anyone like me on TV, so I was honoured to win a Logie, but it’s definitely not as cool as an Oscar,” he told Body+Soul.

“The time for that is changing and if I could be involved in that in a small way, I would love to do it.”

Ms Higgins’ legal battle against her accused rapist Bruce Lehrmann put her entire life under the microscope this year, as well as having far-reaching implications for Parliament and safety in the workplace.

Her incredibly public trial was postponed in June by the presiding judge after journalist and then-key witness Lisa Wilkinson reignited public interest during a controversial Logies speech.

After a rogue juror caused a mistrial following weeks of intense courtroom questioning and media scrutiny, Ms Higgins was admitted to hospital. A retrial was ultimately dropped over concerns for her mental health.

Mr Lehrmann has consistently and repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

In her first statement following the dropping of the charges against Mr Lehrmann, Ms Higgins referenced the part public and media publicity had to play in the difficulties she experienced during the original trial – and the attention imbalance.

“My life was publicly scrutinised, open for the world to see. [Mr Lehrmann’s] was not,” she wrote.

“Many of you in the media have been called out for labelling the last few weeks the ‘Higgins trial’, but I don’t blame you, because to me it is very obvious who has been on trial.”

After Mr Lehrmann’s retrial was abandoned, Ms Higgins reached a settlement with the Commonwealth following the announcement she intended to sue senators Linda Reynolds and Michaelia Cash and the Commonwealth for sexual harassment, sex discrimination, disability discrimination, negligence and victimisation.

The settlement was confidential, but Ms Higgins’ claim was expected to be worth about $3 million.

October was a big month for Wallam, only the third Indigenous woman to join national netball team, the Australian Diamonds.

A Noongar woman from Western Australia, Wallam hit the headlines before her first game with the Diamonds, after taking a stand over Netball Australia’s sponsorship deal with Hancock Prospecting.

She sought an exemption from wearing the company’s logo on her uniform due to comments made by its founder Lang Hancock, who had advocated for the genocide of Indigenous people.

As Gina Rinehart refused to distance herself from her late father’s comments 40 years previously, Hancock Prospecting subsequently withdrew its sponsorship to Netball Australia amid an extensive media furore and a torrent of online abuse abuse directed at Wallam.

Despite all this, Wallam played her first game for the Diamonds against England on October 26, taking the court with 10 minutes before the final whistle. She shot eight out of eight, including the winning shot, with just seconds left to play.

labor majority albanese

For our current Prime Minister, 2022 was a case of challenges arising and challenges met.

First and foremost, Mr Albanese can take credit for leading his party into power after nine years in the political wilderness.

Despite some hiccups early in his election campaign, Labor was victorious in May.

He certainly hit the ground running, flying off to Tokyo for a leadership summit, connecting with US President Joe Biden, and taking on back-to-back overseas commitments, earning him the sly moniker ‘Airbus Albo’.

His boots-on-the-ground approach impressed, however. By August, his rating was 55 per cent to Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s 17 per cent as preferred PM.

The honeymoon ended mid-year as those aforementioned challenges started to bite. A $275 energy promise came back to haunt Mr Albanese amid a chronic energy shortage, a fall in wages and skyrocketing cost-of-living pressures.

His achievements to date include updating Australia’s climate targets in an effort to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, legislating a national anti-corruption commission, strengthening relations in the Pacific region, ending a diplomatic freeze between Australia and China, and championing an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

In December Parliament also passed Labor’s historic workplace harassment laws and the Secure Jobs, Better Pay bill.

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