The headline acts that had Australia talking in 2012

APN Newsdesk's Adam Carroll and Vani Naidoo look at the personalities that had us talking in 2012.

CLIVE PALMER: It feels like barely a day went by when Clive was not in the news. The professor made headlines in politics, business and sport. Say what you like about Mr Palmer, just don't accuse him of being boring.

JULIA GILLARD: Julia Gillard had an eventful year, even by prime ministerial standards. Her grip on power faced internal and external tests.

But she stared down every challenge to her leadership and ended the year safe in The Lodge.

While the Labor leadership spill happened in February, Ms Gillard really dominated the news towards the end of the year as she faced pressure over the AWU slush fund scandal.

But perhaps it will be her misogyny speech in October that will be remembered well beyond 2012.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Peter Slipper resigns as Speaker; mining billionaire Gina Rinehart; pop sensation Gotye; Miranda Kerr walks the catwalk during the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show; former PM Kevin Rudd; Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Peter Slipper resigns as Speaker; mining billionaire Gina Rinehart; pop sensation Gotye; Miranda Kerr walks the catwalk during the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show; former PM Kevin Rudd; Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

PETER SLIPPER: The Sunshine Coast MP started the year in the all-important Speaker's role and ended the year on the crossbench.

A sexual harassment claim by his former staffer James Ashby might have been thrown out of court in December, but it still made Mr Slipper's position as Speaker untenable and he resigned in October.

The member for Fisher was never far from the news and dominated headlines like no Speaker before him.

JULIAN ASSANGE: The WikiLeaks founder might have spent half of 2012 locked safely behind the doors of the Ecuador's embassy in London, but he was still one of the most prominent Australian newsmakers of 2012.

After losing his court battle to avoid extradition to Sweden, where police want to interview him about sexual assault allegations, he sought and was granted political asylum by Ecuador. And now he wants to run for the Senate.

KEVIN RUDD: The former PM ended months of leadership speculation when he took on Julia Gillard to get his old job back.

The tipping point for the unsuccessful challenge came after a video was leaked showing Mr Rudd is more than fluent in Mandarin - it turns out he has a pretty good grasp of profanity as well.

Despite being on the backbench, Mr Rudd was never far from the news. As an election year looms and Labor trails in the polls, Kevin from Queensland won't have to be asked twice to help should his party come knocking.

TONY ABBOTT: For the first half of 2012 you would have been forgiven for thinking hard hats and high-vis vests were part of Tony Abbott's everyday wardrobe.

The Opposition Leader was at a new factory or business just about every day as he waged war on the government's carbon tax.

Rarely has a political leader succeeded in controlling the agenda like Tony Abbott. He'll be hoping it continues in 2013.

CRAIG THOMSON: The member for Dobell was forced to quit the ALP in May as he faced allegations of misusing Health Services Union funds in his previous life as the union's national secretary. In a normal parliament the allegations would have been a one-week story at best. But there is nothing normal about this parliament.

BLACK CAVIAR: No list of 2012 newsmakers would be complete without the champion mare.

Australia watched as the Peter Moody-trained flying machine flew halfway around the world to take on and beat the world's best sprinters. She won six races in 2012 to keep her unbeaten record intact. And the good news is we're likely to see her return to the track in 2013.

SALLY PEARSON: The Queenslander delivered gold in the 100m hurdles at the Olympic Games in a record-breaking 12.35 seconds.

In a thrilling photo-finish Pearson edged out American Dawn Harper who had forced her to settle for silver in Beijing four years earlier.

Her performance was certainly a highlight in a Games that did not go as well as Australia had hoped.

ALAN JONES: The controversial broadcaster was never far from the headlines this year and really stuck his foot in it when he commented in a speech at a Sydney University Liberal Club dinner that Prime Minister Julia Gillard's recently departed father had "died of shame".

Jones's antipathy towards the PM is well documented - he even called her "Ju-liar" to her face during an interview last year but the general consensus was that this time he had gone too far and sponsors deserted his 2GB station in droves.

CAMPBELL NEWMAN: The former lord mayor of Brisbane led the LNP to a landslide victory in Queensland's elections in March but it didn't take long for his popularity to wane.

The announcement the government was cutting 14,000 public sector jobs as well as budgetary decisions that affected the Premier's Literary awards and gagging orders on NGOs have seen him slump in the polls.

The Premier says he is not afraid of making the hard decisions but his MPs are voting with their feet with Alex Douglas and Ray Hopper leaving the party.

Scandals surrounding Arts Minister Ros Bates, Housing Minister Bruce Flegg and Michael Caltabiano haven't exactly helped either.

GINA RINEHART: The mining billionaire spent the year trying to keep the family name out of the courts as three of her four children tried to gain control of their trust funds.

She raised eyebrows when in a column for an investment magazine she wrote that Australians jealous of the wealthy should stop complaining and "spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising and more time working".

Her acquisition of 14.9% of Fairfax Media also caused consternation.

MIRANDA KERR: The Victoria's Secret model adds a touch of glamour to this list.

The girl from Gunnedah continues to rake in the money adding a lucrative multimillion dollar deal as the face of fashion brand Mango to a portfolio already bursting with work from David Jones, Kora Organics and handbag label Samantha Thavasa.

The mum-of-one has also been kept busy denying rumours she and hubby actor Orlando Bloom are drifting apart.


International singing sensation Gotye.
International singing sensation Gotye.

GOTYE: The Australian pop sensation capped off a stellar year with three Grammy nominations including one for the prestigious Record of the Year.

His album Making Mirrors netted him four ARIAS including Best Male artist, while hit song Somebody That I Used to Know has sold more than 10 million units. Not bad for the shy Wally Da Backer.

THE MORCOMBES: 2012 will be a bittersweet year for Bruce and Denise.

They farewelled their son Daniel nine years to the day he disappeared while waiting for a bus on the Sunshine Coast.

Thousands wearing a splash of red turned out to say their goodbyes to a little boy with sparkling eyes and an engaging smile.

"This is not a day for sadness," said Bruce at the funeral.

"He may not be with us but Daniel's legacy lives on. Our children and grandchildren are safer because of Daniel's legacy."

The committal hearing for Brett Peter Cowan, the man accused of abducting and killing Daniel, continues in January.

Topics:  clive palmer daniel morcombe editors picks julia gillard julian assange kevin rudd peter slipper tony abbott

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Higher booze prices 'best way to combat abuse'

Should taxes be raised further on alcoholic drinks?

Report examines best ways to combat alcohol and violence

8800 complaints about water, energy bills in Queensland

Maree Skellern from Tweed Heads Kindy Care showing the dramatic changes in the latest power bill.

More than $320,000 in billing adjustments

'UNREAL': Paddler videos moment whale swims under his board

Surfer Ziggy Albert (blond hair) and his paddle buddy on their way to Old Woman Island enjoyed the encounter of a lifetime when a mother whale and her calf popped up in front of them.

You couldn't find a better way to start the day than this

Local Partners

Wakeskating champ hit with $200 fine at school pick-up

AUSTRALIAN wakeskating champion Cody Murphy has copped a $200 fine for forgetting to carry his driver's license when making a five minute trip to school.

Community garden set for Palmwoods

Kay Nixon at the Palmwoods Community Gardens will be hosting a launch day and inviting the ecommunity to come along and sign up.

Parcel of land to supply sustainable gardening for community

Barry Gibb is coming to Bluesfest 2017

FANS: Barry Gibb talks to a fan next to a cardboard cutout of his young self.

Aged 70, Gibb has re-launched his solo music career with a new album

Tim Finn headlining at Airlie Beach Music Festival

Music veteran Tim Finn from New Zealand will headline the Airlie Beach Music Festival.

Tim Finn: "It's the kind of festival that artists love"

Kanye West threatens to boycott Grammys

West says he won't go to the Grammys if Frank Ocean's not nominated

Why this actress wasn't embarrassed by nude photo leak

Leslie Jones source Bang

'If you wanna see Leslie Jones naked, just ask,' she said

Dad's Army comic genius Jim Perry dies

Jimmy Perry, the creator of Dad's Army.

Dad's Army series captured all that British people savour

Check out some fashions from the Coast festival

FASHION: Ocean Zen range.

Images from the Sunshine Coast Fashion Festival show what's hot

Australian Survivor's magician Matt out of tricks

Australian Survivor contestant Matt Tarrant.

SHOW'S power couple looks unstoppable in race to the finish.

Top floor teams take out The Block's terrace week

Kim and Chris pictured on their winning outdoor terrace in a scene from The Block.

RIVALS Kim and Chris and Julia and Sasha tie in final week of work.

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

What our mayor thinks of the new draft SEQPlan

The plan to use the innovative technology as part of the new Maroochydore CBD was cemented on site today when Mayor Mark Jamieson and Envac Asia Region president Chun Yong Ha formally signed the contract for the $20 million underground waste collection system.

New plan accommodates Sunshine Coast Council's vision for growth.