It’s been a major year in news for Queensland.
From coronavirus border closures to a state election during a pandemic, 2020 has been shaped by major events — some of which were unprecedented for the Sunshine State.
As we prepare to say goodbye to a tumultuous and tiring year, we look back at six key moments from 2020.
1. Hannah Clarke
Just two months into 2020, the nation was rocked by one of the most horrific acts of domestic violence in memory.
A young mother and her three children were murdered after her estranged husband — and the children’s father — ambushed them on the morning school run and set the car alight.
The deaths of Hannah Clarke and her children — Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3 — sparked a groundswell of outrage and grief across the country, and thrust the issue of domestic violence back into the national spotlight.
As more details emerged about the abusive and controlling tactics Rowan Baxter had used against Ms Clarke, there were calls to review the justice system and criminalise coercive control.
In November, the returned Palaszczuk Government said it was committed to legislate against coercive control as a form of domestic and family violence.
2. Coronavirus border closures
For the first time in more than 100 years, Queensland’s border closed to non-essential interstate travel.
The restrictions, which first came into effect on March 2, required interstate arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days, as authorities tried to get a handle on a growing number of COVID-19 cases.
The decision triggered confusion in communities along the Tweed and southern Gold Coast as road blocks were erected.
Queensland’s border status proved to be a divisive topic both interstate and across all levels of government, particularly in the lead up to the state election.
Since then, travel restrictions have fluctuated based on the latest health advice.
3. Black Lives Matter
As the Black Lives Matter protests reverberated across the world, tens of thousands of people took to the streets across Queensland in an act of solidarity, following the death of American man George Floyd.
Brisbane saw one of the biggest demonstrations the city had seen.
Held against the backdrop of the pandemic, much of the crowd donned masks as they marched through the city centre, calling for an end to racism and black deaths in custody.
Since 1991, there have been at least 432 Aboriginal deaths in custody in Australia.
The mass protest in Brisbane’s CBD, held on June 6, attracted about 30,000 people as countless other rallies were also held across the state and the country.
At a later demonstration, organisers said they didn’t want people to “sleep” on the issue.
4. AFL Grand Final
The first AFL Grand Final to be held outside of Melbourne was played at the Gabba in Brisbane — and under lights — on October 24.
It was thought to be the biggest sporting event held worldwide since the onset of the pandemic.
The AFL made the decision to move the showcase from its traditional home of the MCG, due to a coronavirus outbreak in Victoria.
At the time, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk acknowledged the “difficult decision” and said the state would host the final “with the utmost respect”.
“This is a historic day for the AFL and for Queensland as well,” she said.
The unprecedented move came after Queensland established a “hub” for AFL teams to base themselves in the Sunshine State throughout the season.
5. Queensland Election
In the same month as the historic AFL Grand Final, another victory was underway.
Annastacia Palaszczuk led Labor to a win in October, clinching her third term in office.
The victory means by mid-next year, Ms Palaszczuk will become the longest serving Australian female head of government.
Labor increased its majority — ultimately winning 52 seats — while the Liberal National Party (LNP) secured 34, the Greens won two, Katter’s Australian Party kept three, and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation retained one.
The “pandemic election” campaign was dominated by hi-vis vests and talk of the impacts of the coronavirus crisis, particularly border closures, health, and the economy.
On the campaign trail, Ms Palaszczuk told reporters: “Keeping Queenslanders safe will always be my number one priority”.
Two days after the defeat, Deb Frecklington stepped aside as opposition leader, with David Crisafulli later elected unopposed to the role.
6. UQ vaccine hopes dashed
Earlier this month, the University of Queensland’s coronavirus vaccine trial was terminated after participants returned false-positive HIV test results.
It was a devastating blow for the research team who had spent 11 months “living and breathing this project”, but the biotech company said “significant changes” to HIV testing procedures were necessary for success.
While there was no possibility the vaccine caused HIV infection, the decision to abandon the trial was made to maintain public confidence in the vaccine process.
University of Queensland (UQ) virologist Dr Kirsty Short told the ABC that science had still gained a lot because of the work done on the vaccine to this point.
“We have gained so much — we know the technology works in terms of eliciting immune response — it just needs to be tweaked a little bit better so it doesn’t cause that diagnostic interference,” she said.