The stories that gripped Queensland in 2019
IT was the year that shocked, annoyed and devastated thousands with tragic road crashes, an airport knifeman, rampant bushfires and scandals.
Haunting memories of Azaria Chamberlain's tragic death returned as a sleeping baby was snatched by a dingo on Fraser Island, while scandal plagued both politicians and famous entertainers.
Vegan activists and climate change protesters annoyed farmers and motorists, while the Coalition swept to victory in the Federal Election thanks to its stance on regional jobs and industry.
Animal lovers around the country were angered when a couple of Queensland rescue groups came under investigation by the RSPCA, including the disabled animal charity known as Storybook Farm-Sacred Animal Garden.
There was also calls for tougher penalties following the deaths of two men in an alleged hit and run in Windsor in May and the death of a father-of-one who was killed when a person driving a stolen car crashed into him in Bald Hills.
Social media controversy abounded between parents and small business owners over high chairs and professionalism when Windsor's popular Low Road Café owners allegedly called a customer an a**ehole and a racist after the woman placed a post about the lack of highchairs and the cafe owner's subsequent response into a Facebook parenting group.
But there were also some laughs over mistakes on handwritten signs and warnings about checking toilets for snakes.
These are just some of the many stories that gripped Queensland during 2019:
Our hearts were broken, then replaced with anger, when:
The country was devastated when news of a fiery crash claimed the lives of Hervey Bay woman Charmaine Harris McLeod, 35, and her four young children aged between two and six-years-old.
The car, driven by Ms Harris McLeod, crashed head on into a semi-trailer driving in the opposite direction on the Bunya Highway near Kingaroy, just after 7pm on May 27.
The woman and three of the children were pronounced dead at the scene, while another girl died while being flown to the Queensland Children's Hospital.
Public reaction then turned to disbelief and anger when Queensland police later revealed their preliminary investigations suggested the crash was likely a murder-suicide.
Police investigators said there was a lack of brake marks at the crash scene and they found a letter, written by Ms Harris McLeod, about 200m from the car.
The cause of the crash has been referred to the coroner.
Year of the bushfires
Thousands were evacuated as some homes were destroyed, large swathes of land were burnt and wildlife died throughout the Gold Coast, the Scenic Rim, the Sunshine Coast and Central Queensland areas.
In August, almost 40 dead kangaroos were spotted scattered across the sand between Second and Fourth Lagoon at Bribie Island's north western beaches following a bushfire.
That fire was suspected to have started as a result of strong winds during a controlled burn.
The iconic eco-tourism resort, Binna Burra lodge was also razed by fire on the Gold Coast during September.
Investigators determined the fire that destroyed the Binna Burra property to have been accidentally set by two teenagers who discarded a cigarette.
Many of the other bushfires were determined to have been deliberately lit, including a fire in Peachy, north of Toowoomba, which destroyed several homes and sparked a nursing home evacuation in November.
On the Sunshine Coast, a 14-year-old Peregian Springs boy and a 15-year-old Coolum Beach girl were charged with endangering property by fire, with police alleging they started a fire in September that destroyed a house and quickly spread towards Peregian Beach, forcing a mass evacuation.
Of those, 10 are juveniles who are being dealt with under the Youth Justice Act.
Among the devastation, heartwarming scenes of firefighters saving burnt koalas made people smile and cry, while wildlife hospitals were pushed to capacity with injured wildlife.
One of those hospitals included the RSCPA Queensland's animal hospital at Wacol, with more than 2300 animals, including 117 koalas, taken on in November.
Knifeman shuts down Brisbane international airport for hours
BRISBANE International airport was placed into lockdown for more than two hours in February after a knifeman allegedly pulled a "huge serrated knife" on a woman in the food court.
Police said the 50-year-old Surfers Paradise man pulled the knife on a family member and threatened that he had a bomb during a domestic violence incident at the airport.
The Bruce Bishop Carpark at Surfers Paradise was also placed into lockdown and evacuated after reports the man at the airport had made a bomb threat to the area.
Police later shot the man with nonlethal beanbag rounds at the airport, in front of terrified travellers, just after 9pm and took him into custody.
The man went to the airport after his wife, his mother- in-law and two children were planning to depart.
Security and federal police had tried to approach the man as passengers fled in panic before he allegedly said he had a bomb and produced a knife.
Treasurer Jackie Trad says she "stuffed up" over a house purchase she did not declare
Queensland's Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad has had quite the scandalous year, twice being referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission for investigation.
In July, she temporarily stepped down from managing the Cross River Rail project in the wake of a controversial property purchase and referred herself to the CCC, but was stripped of the major transport infrastructure project by September.
Ms Trad failed to publicly declare a $695,000 three-bedroom house she bought in her South Brisbane electorate that stood to reap big gains from government plans to build the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project - and a new school - nearby.
Despite buying the Woolloongabba house in March, Ms Trad did not amend the state parliament's register of member's interests as required.
State MP's are required to amend their register within a month of their circumstances changing, while failure to comply is considered contempt of parliament.
The home was also within the catchment of the new Inner City South State Secondary College, which Ms Trad announced with Education Minister Grace Grace in April.
Ms Trad was forced to sell her property just days after the Courier Mail revealed she had failed to publicly declare the purchase.
Ms Trad referred herself to Queensland's corruption watchdog and sold the house at no profit after receiving advice from the Integrity commissioner.
The CCC found there was no evidence Ms Trad had acted corruptly. Nor was she pursued for a possible contempt of Parliament.
In November, Ms Trad became engulfed in another integrity debacle following allegations she interfered in the independent appointment of a principal for the new Inner City South State Secondary College.
Ms Trad denied she had anything to do with the dumping of Tracey Cook - who had earlier been chosen to head the new school - following a meeting together.
Ms Trad said the position was readvertised after the size of the school expanded, which required an executive principal to be chosen.
Opposition education spokesman Jarrod Bleijie said he would refer the matter to the Crime and Corruption Commission, questioning what reason a local MP could have to meet with a school principal candidate.
A dingo got the baby
Australians were once again horrified after a dingo snatched a 14-month-old boy from his bed at a campsite on Fraser Island in an eerily similar attack to the one that claimed the life of newborn Azaria Chamberlain 39 years ago.
Hunter Allister's parents, both in their late 20s, woke to the baby crying but heard the crying getting further away from the camper trailer about 12.40am on Good Friday.
The baby, who was dragged from the camper trailer - which was parked outside of the designated camping area, on Eurong Rd, Eurong - suffered a fractured skull, puncture wounds to his neck and head and a bite mark bruise on his shoulder.
Hunter, who had been sleeping next to his 5-year-old sister at the time of the attack, was flown to Brisbane where he underwent surgery on his skull.
Fraser Island paramedic Ben Du Loit said the dingo popped a clip on the side of the camper trailer and snuck in through a small gap in the canvas access flap.
Some more lighthearted moments that made us laugh...
Our faces lit up with laughter early in the year after a shopper noticed a mistake on a handwritten sign in a Moreton Bay Bunnings.
The phrase 'Flick it' appeared on the sign, promoting a range of $3.99 LED light switches, however, the accidental combination of two letters produced a markedly different meaning.
Bunnings QLD North Operations Manager Kent Payne said: "Given the nature of our hand written signs, it is unfortunate that this Flick It switch label was misinterpreted. Once we were alerted, we removed it immediately and it was rewritten in clearer text."
A WOMAN visiting family in Chapel Hill in Brisbane's west, alerted the community to "look before you leak" after a snake bit her on the bottom while she was sitting on the toilet in January.
Helen Richards, 59, said she felt a sharp tap and then some pain, at first thinking it was from a frog.
"I thought it was a green frog, but then I thought 'green frogs don't have teeth'," she said.
"I jumped up with my pants down and turned around to see what looked like a longneck turtle receding back into the bowl."
The midwife quickly realised it was actually a 1.6m non-venomous carpet python.
"I took a photo then put the lid down and put two pot plants on it," Mrs Richards said, before ringing a snake catcher, who released the snake near a creek.
Pollie defends worker's right to ask questions
The 49-year-old was told he was in breach for speaking to the media when filmed questioning Mr Shorten at the Queensland Government-owned Gladstone Ports Corporation on April 23, saying "it would be good to see higher-wage earners given a tax break".
The next day the father-of-three's pass did not work and he was officially told he was suspended. His desk was later packed up and delivered to his house.
The worker made his off-the-cuff comment to Mr Shorten, who had approached him, during a free barbecue.
In response, Mr Shorten replied: "We're going to look at that," sparking a political pile-on, with the Coalition accusing the then-Opposition leader of deliberately misleading the man, given Labor had a levy on higher-income earners.
It is understood the worker was shocked when told of his suspension, saying he had not spoken to any media, he had only been filmed asking Mr Shorten a question.
The man was informed his suspension had been lifted just hours after the Courier Mail began making inquiries about the issue.
He said he had not been aware of the issue until the story appeared in the media.
"People are allowed to express their opinions and they should be able to do so without fear or favour, full stop," the former union boss said at the time.
Queenslanders helped lead the Coalition to victory during the Federal election
Queensland helped Australia's Coalition party claim victory in a major upset following the May 18 Federal election, allowing Scott Morrison to remain Prime Minister.
Queenslanders overwhelmingly rejected a Bill Shorten-led Labor government, with no LNP members losing their seats, while Labor suffered swings of more than 10 per cent against them in some seats.
Queensland's key marginal seats in play were Petrie, Bonner, Capricornia, Dawson, Flynn, Forde, Herbert and Dickson.
A number of "safe" ALP seats in Queensland turned marginal, including former Treasurer Wayne Swan's seat of Lilley and Graham Perrett's seat of Moreton.
Herbert, the most marginal seat in the country, was one of a number of Labor seats to fall to the Coalition across the country.
The LNP picked up at least two seats from Labor in Queensland, Longman and Herbert.
Some MP's felt their success was partially due to a convoy of anti-Adani protesters during April.
Concern about jobs, Labor's plan to axe tax refunds for franking credits and the ALP's uncertain position on the Adani coalmine impacted the party's vote in Queensland.
Labor's primary vote plunged 4.29 per cent in Queensland - one of its worst results across the country.
On two-party terms, the LNP's vote jumped 3.64 per cent in Queensland.
Senior Labor frontbencher Brendan O'Connor blamed heavy spending by Clive Palmer, and One Nation, directing preferences to the LNP.
New laws introduced following numerous disruptive protests
PROTESTERS gained a lot of the spotlight during 2019 while angering a number of people just trying to go about their day.
First came vegan protesters, including some who stormed the Carey Bros abattoir in Yangan, near Warwick on a "national day of protest" in April, chaining themselves to the kill floor equipment and only leaving after two hours once the owner released three sheep that were marked for slaughter.
The protest was part of a nationwide disruption in cities and farms in which more than 50 activists were arrested.
Police said the 11 people entered farming and agricultural land illegally at various locations in late March and early April, highlighting protests at a Millmerran feedlot and at the Yangan abattoir.
A few weeks later, eight of the protesters appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court, where they were fined between $450 to $600, depending on the person, for trespassing as well as ordered to pay an additional $180 in restitution to the abattoir owner.
The same week, more than 40 activists from Animal Liberation Queensland descended on Ingham's chicken at Murarrie to stop trucks entering the slaughterhouse.
By October, the country was outraged to discover some retired racehorses were being slaughtered at Meramist Abattoir in Caboolture.
About 40 animal activists gathered outside to hold a vigil for the lives of the horses and other animals killed at the site.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison encouraged farmers to sue animal activists by giving them Commonwealth resources, as "green-collar criminals" face losing their charity status.
By November, non-profit animal protection charity, Aussie Farms had their charity status revoked after the group released an interactive "attack" map showing the locations of farms and abattoirs and encouraged people to storm them.
Climate change activists also came to the forefront this year under the banner of the international group, Extinction Rebellion, as they demanded more government action on climate change.
Protesters disrupted traffic on a number of occasions, including by gluing a canoe to the middle of the road on Brisbane's Victoria Bridge, to try to get their climate change message across.
One of their disruptions included five people supergluing themselves to an inner-city street in Brisbane on a Friday night in June, as a protest against the Indian-owned Adani Group, who plans to build the Carmichael coal mine in Central Queensland, inland from the Great Barrier Reef.
Many of the lead protesters were eventually charged but given a slap on the wrist at court, enraging many locals.
A "mass rebellion" was held on August 6, where police said about 300 people were involved in a protest that caused commuter chaos, with 34 men and 38 women aged between 18 and 73 arrested.
The protests, which started outside Parliament House, affected George, Elizabeth, Alice, Margaret and William streets in Brisbane's CBD.
The state government had passed controversial anti-protest laws - aimed at sending Extinction Rebellion protesters to jail - by mid-October.
A fed-up Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Extinction Rebellion protesters had crossed the line and were now using dangerous devices to tie up police resources.
Protesters were banned from using "dangerous" lock on devices - which they used to lock themselves to items like cars or barrels - under sweeping new controversial laws aimed at stamping out extreme activists.
As well as banning lock on devices, the new laws also give police the power to search people for the devices and prohibit vehicles entering the CBD.
Boxing ring girls sacked - temporarily
Boxer Jeff Horn took a back seat to a new controversy in August, with ring card girls instead making the limelight prior to his fight against Brent Zerafa in Bendigo.
Promoter Dean Lonergan said he was disappointed that women's groups and local councillor Jennifer Alden would accuse him and boxing of objectifying women.
But after two hours of sustained booing for the sheepish ring card boy, Mr Lonergan decided the crowd had voted with their voices and the ring card girls - who were said to be angry to be out of a job - made a return during a preliminary bout.
Mr Lonergan said the decision was a vote for common sense over extreme political correctness.
School principal launches landmark defamation lawsuit
Tamborine Mountain School Principal, Tracey Brose, launched a landmark defamation action earlier in the year, seeking more than $1 million in damages from eight parents for allegedly damaging her personal and professional reputation, and leaving her "shunned" by the community.
Court documents detailed a number of allegedly defamatory comments made by the parents on Facebook against the principal.
Mrs Brose argued the online comments, viewed by 8200 people on a change.org petition and on the Tamborine Mountain Facebook page in March 2016, attacked her "integrity, honesty, fairness, and judgment, all matters critical to a teacher and especially a school principal".
The petition was made to reinstate her after she was suspended. Mrs Brose was subsequently cleared and reappointed.
The principal had initially sought to sue each parent for $220,000, but as one reached a zero-dollar-settlement and another declared bankruptcy, only three, Donna Baluskas, her husband Miguel Baluskas and Laura Lawson, continued to the bitter end of an extraordinary trial in Southport District Court throughout October and November.
Judge Catherine Muir is expected to deliver her findings in early 2020.
The Veronicas get booted off flight
In September Brisbane's golden girls of singing, The Veronicas, got booted off a Sunday morning QANTAS flight and dubbed "a security risk" for allegedly refusing to place their luggage in the overhead bin and becoming disruptive, delaying the Brisbane-bound plane's departure from Sydney by almost an hour.
Later that night, twin sisters Lisa and Jessica Origliasso wrote on the band's official Instagram account they were confused by the "upsetting and embarrassing" encounter and claimed they had placed their bags in the overhead compartment - with the help of another passenger - after being asked to do so and being told by the attendant she couldn't assist them as it was against company policy.
The sisters said "right before takeoff" the flight attendant brought a manager over, who "lectured" them about company policy, but who refused to give the twins their names and instead called security.
No further action was taken by police and they were allowed to catch a later flight to Brisbane.
Many members of the public later wondered if it was a publicity stunt related to the release of the Twin's reality TV show that was set to air on Foxtel in November.
The duo denied it was a stunt, and said they were pursuing legal action against the airline.
Janet Jackson disappoints in Brisbane
In another entertainment-related fail, Rhythm and Blues fans walked out just two songs into Janet Jackson's headline performance at an RnB Fridays Live concert in Brisbane in November.
Jackson had already been slammed earlier in the week for bad lip syncing at the Perth leg of the tour.
Thousands of fans rocked up to RNA Showgrounds hoping for a stellar performance from the superstar line up which included Jackson, Jason Derulo, 50 Cent, Brandy, Sisqo and the Black Eyed Peas.
But concertgoers received somewhat of an anticlimactic end after headline acts dished out sub-par performances or came late to the stage.
Black Eyed Peas rocked up almost half an hour late and 53-year-old Jackson's set was allegedly so terrible that almost half the crowd left the venue before her third song.
Reviews of her following concert in Sydney were positive, claiming her performance was "on fire."