We had cyclones Steve, Rosita and Sam.
The World Economic Forum was held in Melbourne. What interested me most were the talks inside but I was asked to cover the show outside, organised by the police, to justify the unnecessary and out-of-proportion security setup. A group of journalists, me included, had to fight to get out of the building and go home when the talks were over. The police took us across the Yarra River on motorboats and dropped us off on the other bank, where the “dangerous” demonstrators, they were saving us from, helped me get out of the boat.
In May, Fijian banker George Speight carried out a ‘coup d’état’ against the elected government of Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry. Speight entered the parliament compound and held Chaudhry, his cabinet, parliamentarians and staff hostage for 56 days. He then set up an interim government headed by Commodore Frank Bainimarama.
I covered the event from Melbourne talking to my sources over the phone. One of my main contacts was John Scott, Director General of Fiji’s Red Cross, who organised a phone interview with Mahendra Chaudry while he was still being held hostage. John Scott was murdered in July 2001, along with his partner, Gregory Scrivener, in an apparent homophobic attack, but possibly for political reasons also.
Violence in the Solomon Islands between rebels from Malaita and Guadalcanal, led to a coup when, in June 2000, the Malaitan Eagle Force ousted the prime minister and the Isatabu Freedom Fighters replaced the Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army. The confrontation cost hundreds of lives.
Covering it from Melbourne I was in constant phone contact with Alfred Sasako, then Minister of State, and with journalists from the Solomon Islands who were very, very, kind.
In August I was sent to Sydney to cover the side-events (besides sports) of the Olympic Games. There was an enormous team of sports reporters from Spain.
Kofi Annan, the then Secretary-General of the United Nations, visited New Zealand where Helen Clark became the Prime Minister and there were talks about a monetary union between Australia and New Zealand.