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Hits and messes: The big moments that touched the Territory in 2018

By Emilie Gramenz, Wednesday January 2, 2019 - 13:12 EDT
ABC image
Malcolm Turnbull at welcome to country in Tennant Creek in July, 2018. - ABC

As the smoke disperses from New Year's Eve fireworks, and the dust settles on 2018, ABC Darwin looks back on the top 10 news moments in the Northern Territory.

1. Cyclone Marcus



It was the strongest cyclone to hit Darwin in 30 years.

on March 17, ripping enormous trees from their roots, tearing down powerlines and branches, and giving the more relaxed residents a reminder of nature's wrath.

Some were left without power or water for weeks, but the storm also brought out the best in people as the community rallied around each other.

2. Tennant troubles



The outback town of Tennant Creek made national headlines for all the wrong reasons in February after the .

The spotlight was cast on social issues in the town, and there was enough pressure on the Federal Government that in July, then-leader .

The NT Children's Commissioner found the toddler was at a foreseeable risk of harm in an investigation of the case and made numerous recommendations for Territory Families, NT Police and the NT Government.

and social services are still on the frontline of addressing dysfunction.

Multiple levels of government have inked a $60 million infrastructure deal for the Barkly region, but details of what will actually be funded will be something to watch in the coming year.

3. Top cop jailed



A one-time top cop of the Northern Territory narrowly avoided spending the festive season in jail.

In June, former police commissioner , to be suspended after 12 months, for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

He tried to frustrate or deflect a travel agent fraud investigation in 2014, the priority target of which was a woman McRoberts had been in a sexual relationship with — former travel agent and NT Crime Stoppers chairwoman Xana Kamitsis.

The blockbuster court case involved details of intimate text messages and an appearance by former chief minister Adam Giles.

McRoberts was released from Darwin's Holtze Prison on the morning of Christmas Eve and can serve the rest of his sentence from home.

4. Missing Moriarty



More column inches, television minutes and podcast recordings have been dedicated to the remote outpost of Larrimah than any other town of just a dozen people in history (probably).

The continues a year after he disappeared.

Larrimah local Paddy and his red kelpie, Kellie, haven't been seen since December 2017 with the story grabbing headlines throughout 2018.

It's hard for Stuart Highway travellers to miss the huge signs on the side of the road, even if it only takes a couple of seconds to pass through Larrimah, but and police seem far from discovering the truth even after a coronial inquest and high-profile appeals.

5. Speak even if your voice shakes



The sparked a nationwide conversation about mental health and bullying.



The teenager, from a well-known Territory cattle family, took her own life after alleged bullying and her family launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of bullying and harassment.

A phrase from a drawing by Dolly urged people to "stand up, speak even if your voice shakes".

Her family said by opening up the conversation, they wanted to save another family going through the sadness and tragedy they were experiencing.

6. Territorians kicking goals



The saw one of Hawthorn's most influential players, after 11 years and four premierships, return to his Top End home.

The lauded footballer is part of the modern crop of Riolis, the talented family hailing from the Tiwi Islands, where football is a local religion.

He was the 2015 Norm Smith medallist, following in the footsteps of his uncles Maurice Rioli (1982 medallist) and Michael Long (1993 medallist).

Willie Rioli Jr had just become the third Rioli in four years to play in , and Maurice Rioli Jr was being eyed off by a couple of AFL clubs.

But it wasn't only Territory athletes kicking goals in 2018.

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu's final, posthumously released album was the , and was awarded at the ARIAs and the National Indigenous Music Awards.

Darwin's and Darwin-born actor Miranda Tapsell shot her movie Top End Wedding in the Northern Territory.

The romantic comedy is slated to premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

7. Don Dale riot



In the 12 months since the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children , problems at the facility have not abated.

In early November, and set the facility's school on fire.

Staff after a number of violent incidents.

The NT Government has committed , but its not scheduled to be built until 2021.

With no alternative facility, until the facility could be repaired from the November disturbance.

8. Alice Springs art gallery



It sounds so good on paper: a $150-million Indigenous art museum in the Red Centre of Australia, displaying the best of the nation's rich talent.

The NT Government wants to build at the base of Anzac Hill, but many in Alice Springs oppose that location.

Attempts to reach an agreement have been continually frustrated, and with South Australia nipping at the Territory's heels, this unresolved issue is sure to continue into 2019.

Earlier in the year, Chief Minister Michael Gunner had an early taste of the public's sentiment for expensive new infrastructure projects, when he was forced to scrap his government's plan for a new museum at Myilly Point in Darwin.

9. Fracking



On the horizon is the imminent resumption of fracking in the Northern Territory, following the , but enforce new regulations.

The divisive move is seen as an economic hope for a jurisdiction that desperately needs one, though it has been met with dismay by environmentalists and protest by Indigenous traditional owners.

A scientific inquiry found risks from the industry could be managed if its recommendations were implemented, and the NT Government has promised to implement all 135 of them in full.

Amendments to ensure mining and petroleum companies are not exempt from water use regulation came into effect on the final day of 2018.

Fracking is the looming resource prospect for the future, after the .

The official opening of the $55 billion Ichthys LNG plant brought .

10. Budget crisis and NT Labor's implosion



Two weeks before Christmas, the NT Labor Government dropped an extraordinary bombshell: that and the Government did not have an immediate plan to claw its way out of a financial crisis.

The NT Government is blaming a drop in its GST payments, increasing demand on government services and expenditure, and the slowing of the economy after construction on the Inpex project wound up.

It was not just the Territory public rocked by the news.

Internal ruptures emerged: in a high-profile leak, Aboriginal Affairs and Primary Industries Minister , then soon after for "breaking Caucus values and standards".

Chief Minister Michael Gunner is no doubt hoping for better luck in the New Year.



While you're here… are you feeling curious?


- ABC

© ABC 2019

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