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A year in review: Top Australian personalities of 2015

THEY'VE punched sharks, been publicly dumped, inspired change and taken very expensive helicopter rides. Here are the Aussies that got tongues wagging this year


MICHELLE PAYNE: She is on top of the racing world after becoming the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup.

But Michelle Payne's history-making speech, in which she called out sexism in horse racing, received just as much attention as her surprise victory riding Prince of Penzance at Flemington.

In an interview after the big race Payne revealed she had to fight for the ride due to the chauvinistic nature of the sport - strong words many applauded as breaking down barriers for female jockeys.

From Facebook

The headline to accompany Turnbull's appearance in the Australian men's fashion magazine hinted at a new era in politics - and it eventuated in September when he was declared the nation's 29th Prime Minister.

The revolving door of leaders continued when Turnbull launched a strategic challenge for the Liberal leadership to oust Tony Abbott.

The staunch republican has had a busy first few months in the top job and is unlikely to slow down as next year's election looms.

Malcolm Turnbull was sworn in as Prime Minister in September.
Malcolm Turnbull was sworn in as Prime Minister in September. MICK TSIKAS

JULIAN WILSON AND MICK FANNING: A surfer rushing to save his mate from the jaws of death made for one hell of a story in July.

Australian surfer Julian Wilson was hailed a hero after paddling towards fellow competitor Mick Fanning when he saw him being attacked by a shark at the World Surf League Final in South Africa.

Fanning escaped unscathed and the pair's surfing colleagues and fans expressed relief after dramatic footage revealed how easily it could have ended in tragedy. Though badly shaken, Fanning returned to his winning form just four weeks later competing in Tahiti.

In this image made available by the World Surf League, Australian surfer Mick Fanning is pursued by a shark, in Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa, Sunday, July 19, 2015. www.worldsurfleague.com
In this image made available by the World Surf League, Australian surfer Mick Fanning is pursued by a shark, in Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa, Sunday, July 19, 2015. www.worldsurfleague.com

From bouts of booing and the 'ape' comment from a teen girl in the crowd to criticism over his 2014 Australian of the Year acceptance speech, the AFL great became the centre of a controversy.

The racism debate continued after Goodes performed a war dance on the field after kicking a goal in this year's indigenous round.

Messages of support poured in for the player when he announced his retirement from the AFL in September.

Photo from Facebook

Frost became famous after Blake Garvey dumped her after he chose her as the winner of the second Australian season of The Bachelor.

But this year it was her turn to hand out the roses when she emerged with brunette locks and fresh determination to look for love on The Bachelorette.

There was no shortage of drama and 'bromance' as a bunch of blokes vied for her attention but in the end it was Sasha Mielczarek who won her heart and the media frenzy that followed.

Sam Frost is Australia's first star of The Bachelorette.
Sam Frost is Australia's first star of The Bachelorette. Channel 10

The #HaynePlayne hashtag was trending in September as Twitter messages flooded in to congratulate the former Parramatta Eels player on making the San Francisco 49ers squad.

Fans were also quick to air their views on social media when Hayne was 'waived' - cut to make way for another player - later in the year.

Off the field, Hayne hoped to kick goals in the world of fashion retail as he launched his own clothing line.

 

Jarryd Hayne #38 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on from the bench against the Denver Broncos.
Jarryd Hayne #38 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on from the bench against the Denver Broncos. Doug Pensinger

WALEED ALY: Who could forget The Project host Waleed Aly's powerful plea for unity in the wake of the Paris terror attacks?

 

The clip of his speech on the Channel Ten program went viral and struck a chord with people across Australia who admired his response to the growing issue of terrorism.

Aly's message, in which he urged Australians not to fall for ISIL's divide and conquer strategy, drew widespread praise on social media.

The segment was also a talking point in other countries including Canada and the UK.

Waleed Aly is The Project's co-host.
Waleed Aly is The Project's co-host. Channel 10

The scandal took off amid claims she spent more than $5000 chartering a helicopter from Melbourne to Geelong to attend a political fundraiser.

There were plenty of clever memes about her lavish lifestyle doing the rounds on social media as further allegations emerged about trips in private limousines and more charter flights.

After weeks of fierce criticism she resigned as Speaker of the House of Representatives, with then prime minister Tony Abbott announcing a review of the entitlements system.

John Gass

ROSIE BATTY: The 2015 Australian the Year gave a voice to thousands of domestic violence victims in Australia when she spoke out about her personal tragedy.

Rosie Batty has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about family violence and put the issue on the national agenda since the death of her son Luke, who was killed by his father in a public assault.

In her memoir, A Mother's Story, the domestic violence campaigner revealed heartbreaking details about losing her son.
Ms Batty continues to fight for changes to the system and says there is a still a long way to go.

2015's Australian of the year Rosie Batty. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily
2015's Australian of the year Rosie Batty. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily Warren Lynam

The 20-year-old star player, known for his daring haircuts and getting into hot water with tennis officials, has divided opinion in the industry with his antics.

Kyrgios, ranked number two in Australia, continued hitting the headlines when he was dumped from Australia's Davis Cup team and was a no-show at Tennis Australia's prestigious Newcombe Medal presentation.

Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios jumps into the air after his Fourth round victory against Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon.
Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios jumps into the air after his Fourth round victory against Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon. Supplied

JANUARY:

7: Australian actor Rod Taylor, aged 84.
29: Internationally acclaimed author Colleen McCullough, aged 77.

FEBRUARY:

7: Former Bundaberg MP and mayor Nita Cunningham, aged 75.

MARCH:

20: Former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser, aged 84.

APRIL:

10: Legendary cricket player and commentator Richie Benaud, aged 84.

JUNE:

1: Victoria's first female premier Joan Kirner, aged 76.
5: Australian business tycoon Alan Bond, aged 77.
17: Gold Coast Mayor and former Olympic athlete Ron Clarke, aged 78.

JULY

3: Adelaide Crows coach Phil Walsh, aged 55.
14: Rudd and Bligh election campaign mastermind Neil Lawrence, aged 60.
19: Australian environmentalist Felicity Wishart, aged 49.

AUGUST:

30: Legendary racehorse trainer Bart Cummings, aged 87

SEPTEMBER:

15: Boxer Davey Browne Jnr, aged 28.

OCTOBER:

Former Ipswich MP and councillor Don Livingstone, aged 67.

NOVEMBER:

29: Australian football icon Joe Marston, aged 89.

Topics:  australia editors picks year in review



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