Australasia 2021: Australasia Today
Since 2003 Australasia has seen continued political stability, with no significant military events occurring after the 2006 Fijian coup. The region also avoided the main impacts of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic, although whether it will remain this lucky into the future is less certain.
17 May 2004 Kingdom of Me´ekamui▲
Rejecting the peace agreement with Papua New Guinea, Bougainville rebel Francis Ona had himself crowned as King Frances Dominic Dateransy Domanaa of Me´ekamui (an old tribal name for Bougainville) and continued to reign in the interior of southern Bougainville. When Ona died in July 2005, he was succeeded by Noah Musingku, who became King David Peii II of the “Twin Kingdoms” of Me´ekamui and Paapala. Musingku proceeded to hire Fijian soldiers to train his guards and provide security, funding his efforts through dubious online financial schemes. Despite official condemnation, he was still operating in late 2020, mainly because many of the authorities had invested in him.
4–7 Dec 2006 2006 Fijian Coup▲
In December 2005 a political dispute broke out in Fiji between the government and the military when the government attempted to pardon some participants in the 2000 Fijian coup. After a year-long crisis, the military seized control of police facilities in Nasinu and Suva on 4 December 2006. Despite some resistance by the government, chiefs, and churches, military leader Frank Bainimarama assumed control of the country over the following days.
2 Apr 2007–30 Jul 2008 Subprime mortgage crisis▲
During a boom in housing construction, the bundling and improper rating of high-risk mortgages caused the United States bond market to crash in 2007. The ensuing financial crisis sent the US economy into the Great Recession, with the stock market crashing a year later.
22 Feb 2011 2011 Christchurch earthquake▲
A 6.3 Richter scale earthquake struck the Canterbury Region, New Zealand, 10 km south-east of the center of Christchurch, New Zealand’s second-most populous city. The quake caused widespread damage across the city, killing 185 people and badly damaging buildings and infrastructure. The subsequent exodus of people from Christchurch would see it fall behind Wellington to become the third most populous urban area in New Zealand.
15 Mar 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings▲
On 15 March 2019 a gunman attacked Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday Prayer before moving on to attack nearby Linwood Islamic Centre, live-streaming the first attack to Facebook. The attacks killed 51 people and injured 49, making it the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand history. A 28-year-old Australian man and alleged white supremacist was apprehended shortly afterwards and charged with murder and terrorism.
6 Sep 2019–3 May 2020 2019–20 Australian bushfires▲
From September (early spring) 2019 a series of wildfires broke out across eastern Australia and by December—over a month before the height of summer—had already broken records to become the most destructive bushfires in Australia’s recorded history. Although the direct human death toll was only 34 people, 445 died from smoke inhalation and the fires burned an estimated 18.6 million hectares, destroyed over 9,350 buildings, and killed approximately 3 billion terrestrial vertebrates. Attributed at least in part to Climate Change, the fires sent a smoke cloud larger than the contiguous United States across the South Pacific.
23 Nov–7 Dec 2019 Bougainvillean independence referendum▲
In November to December 2019 an independence referendum was held in Bougainville, a restive autonomous region of Papua New Guinea (PNG) centered on Bougainville Island. Choosing between greater autonomy within PNG and full independence, 98.31% of voters opted for independence. As the referendum was non-binding, real independence will still need to be negotiated between leaders from Bougainville and PNG.
25 Jan 2020–pres. COVID-19 in Australasia▲
The first cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic were reported in Australia in January 2020, but, although the disease quickly spread elsewhere in the region, it was largely contained by the closure of international borders and the careful implementation of lockdowns. By mid-January 2021 Australia had reported 909 deaths, New Zealand 25, and Papua New Guinea 9. Through strict border controls, most of the smaller Pacific islands have thus far evaded the pandemic altogether.