Men and women who had us talking in 2013

CLOCKWISE: Liam and Chris Hemsworth, Julia Gillard, Michael Clarke, Clive Palmer, Glenn Stevens. BELOW Samantha Armytage.
CLOCKWISE: Liam and Chris Hemsworth, Julia Gillard, Michael Clarke, Clive Palmer, Glenn Stevens. BELOW Samantha Armytage.

Kevin Rudd

WHAT a year it was for Kevin. He got his own back on Julia Gillard, once again assuming the mantle of prime minister.

Not for long though, as Kevin saved little more than the furniture at the Federal Election in September.

It was a far cry from the Kevin we saw in 2007, a man passionate about his politics and who captured the imagination of the Australian people with his promises of change.

It was a sad, tearful Rudd who retired from his seat of Griffith and Parliament in November.

Tony Abbott

ANTHONY John Abbott, Australia's 28th prime minister was sworn in on September 18 after leading the LNP to a landslide victory in the Federal Election.

While in opposition to the Rudd and Gillard governments Abbott voiced his displeasure on everything from the Emissions Trading Scheme, foreign policy, the mining tax and the Gonski education reforms.

He took full advantage of the Labor leadership crisis promising that if he won office he would prune government expenditure, abolish the carbon and mining taxes, offer six months paid parental leave and look at a subsidised dentistry scheme as soon as the budget was in surplus.

Julia Gillard

THERE is little doubt that the way in which Australia's first female prime minister came to power was always going to be her undoing.

The public found it difficult to accept what they saw as her devious, underhanded usurping of Kevin Rudd and Gillard struggled with that mantle while in office.

Of course her position was not helped by the squabbling between the different factions in the Labor party and the circus finally left town when Gillard lost a leadership ballot to Rudd in June.

She was often criticised for her seeming lack of passion and ridiculed for her accent and manner of speech, but her furious tirade against sexism and misogyny in parliament last October came from the heart.

She has to be congratulated on holding together a hung parliament and getting important legislation passed.

Jarrod Bleijie

EVEN if he does nothing else during his term in government, Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie will forever be remembered for his strong stance against bikies.

A tough set of laws showing zero tolerance to criminal motorcycle gangs, offering tougher jail sentences, faster court action and more stringent police powers is driving bikies out of the state.

Mr Bleijie, the Boy Wonder as he is called, has a penchant for controversy and of late has pitted himself against the unions, the CMC and a number of civil libertarians.

Rupert Murdoch

RUPERT Murdoch is rarely out of the news and the phone hacking scandal that broke two years ago continued to shadow much of 2013 for him.

The trial of former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks and seven others charged with hacking phones and bribing officials started in October, and dealing with the fallout of the expose is likely to cost News Corp in excess of $1.62 billion.

Shareholders of Murdoch's $60 billion media empire voted to split the business into two companies - 21st Century Fox to hold the movie and television interests and News Corp will maintain the newspaper and publishing assets.

But the 82-year-old remains one of the most powerful men in the world. To cap off the year Murdoch announced his split from wife of 14 years Wendi Deng.

Clive Palmer

LOVE him or loathe him, Clive Palmer is not a man that is easily forgotten.

The eccentric mining magnate who has little difficulty with self-promotion added politician to his accomplishments this year winning the seat of Fairfax, while his Palmer United Party claimed two spots in the Senate.

Palmercourts controversy whether it's bringing dinosaurs to his resort in Coolum, building a replica of the Titanic or allegedly locking 300 families out of their holiday villas.

Despite claiming he is now a full-time politician with his constituents' needs at heart, Palmer still maintains positions in more than 70 companies.

No matter what his colleagues in Canberra think of his theatrics, they will underestimate the self-proclaimed billionaire at their peril.

Michael Clarke

It has been a troublesome 12 months for Clarke with Australia returning its worst string of Test results in over a century and the captain plagued by injury.

In fact the 32-year-old has had so many problems with his back that rumour has it he has started contemplating a life beyond cricket.

Clarke's sledging of Jimmy Adams in the first Test at the Gabba upped the ante and cost him $3000, but perhaps there is more to be said in our general acceptance of it than that he did it at all.

Gai Waterhouse

Finally, Gai Waterhouse, one of Australia's premier horse trainers found success in the big one, her horse Fiorente winning the Melbourne Cup.

Waterhouse, already regarded as one of the finest trainers around with more than 100 Group One wins to her name, had finished runner-up in Melbourne on three occasions.

No longer just the bridesmaid, Waterhouse, daughter of Tommy Smith, admitted winning the two-mile race allowed her to "tick it off her bucket list".

Samantha Armytage

SAMANTHA Armytage made the move from Weekend Sunrise to the daily Sunrise show as a replacement for Mel Doyle with almost seamless precision.

In fact such is her appeal that the show saw a huge jump in ratings and has widened the gap with Channel 9's Morning Show by more than 80,000.

Samantha's natural persona and country girl charm is the perfect foil for co-host David Koch.

Liam and Chris Hemsworth

THE good-looking brothers havetaken Hollywood by storm.

Liam, 23, the younger, had a searing start to his career but it was his role as Gale Hawthorne in The Hunger Games in 2012 that really pushed him into the spotlight. His break-up with Miley Cyrus has seen his private life all over the tabloids.

Chris, 30, is best known for his portrayal of Thor. This has been another big year for him with the release of Rush and the Thor sequel, The Dark World.

A dad to 18-month-old India, Chris is expecting his second child with wife Elsa Pataky.

Glenn Stevens

ECONOMIST and Governor of the Reserve Bank, Glenn Stevens, may not appear to be the most exciting character but there is little doubt that his words have the power to move markets.

Stevens was of course instrumental in leading the charge to cut interest rates to give the country a boost post GFC.

Adele Green

PROFESSOR Adele Green may not be a familiar name but we think that she has helped to save the life of someone close to you.

The Australian of the Year has been at the forefront of melanoma research for the last two decades and was pivotal in establishing that daily sunscreen use could halve the risk of melanoma.

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