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

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