There are some moments in a country’s history when the bullshit becomes too much to bear. This year’s Queen’s Birthday (2020) Honours List is one such moment, where the entire apparatus of Government, with its ‘jobs for the boys’, non-stop rorts, lies and evasions, its insider jokes and its lack of shame tips us over the edge.
The worst of it is that it devalues the award for those who really do “go above and beyond”. The most numerous recipients are volunteers, but their awards are ranked below those usually awarded to politicians and other party hacks. These people were actually paid to go to work. So, they get an award for doing their jobs.
Many of them then went on to lucrative careers elsewhere, usually set up by the Government they were a part of. Oh, and they never resign from Parliament until after their pensions are assured. Many of them also have skeletons in their closets, but that did not deter the Awards Council this year.
Who awards the awards?
The rot starts at the top. The person in charge of the Awards Council is Shane Stone, who was once the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. That is the most exalted position he ever attained, and his path to that position was colourful, as was his removal from office.
Mr Stone constantly clashed with Indigenous Territorians, challenging land claims in a bitter decade-long dispute that culminated in Mr Stone famously calling Yolngu leader and Australian of the Year Galarrwuy Yunupingu “just another whinging, whining, carping black”. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-02/stone-and-giles-cut-from-the-same-cloth-nt-politics-reflection/7805802 . In response he was called a “redneck”. That term is difficult to fault.
Shane Stone is also a QC. That is because he appointed himself one, when he was the Attorney General of the Northern Territory. His record in court was less than stellar up to that time, http://www5.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/AltLawJl/2001/44.html but there is nothing better than a self-recommendation. Ask Angus Taylor. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-48119878
More recently, just before the 2019 election, Shane Stone was appointed to a position as the chief of a flood recovery body in Queensland. His full title: – Coordinator-General the Hon Shane L Stone AC QC . The position attracts a payment package similar to that paid to the Prime Minister. There was speculation that it formed part of the Morrison Government’s fire-sale of positions prior to the election. It looks like it was at the least fortuitous. It seems to be a lot of money. Labor suggested that it was another needless layer of bureaucracy, better handled at a state level. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/apr/18/former-liberal-president-shane-stone-to-be-paid-500000-as-flood-recovery-boss
Another, ex-officio member of the Awards Council is one Mathias Cormann. He is perhaps best remembered for ringing the CEO of a large travel company (Helloworld) to book international flights he was never billed for. That was within weeks of two Helloworld subsidiaries being awarded contracts to provide airline and hotel bookings for the Australian government worth about $1 billion in bookings over three years.
Mr Cormann is the Finance Minister, but he is very slack when it comes to paying personal bills, it seems. He paid for the holiday, after he was alerted by Fairfax Media. Considering how well he did in ringing the CEO to make his own booking, perhaps he could do it for the rest of the Government. And Mr Burnes, award around his neck, might even forget to bill the Government?
Who got the big awards?
Consider some of the names on the list: Tony Abbott, Mike Baird, Denis Napthine and former federal Liberal ministers Philip Ruddock and Bronwyn Bishop. The list also includes former Nationals senator Ron Boswell and one-time Liberal Party honorary treasurer Andrew Burnes, the chief executive of Helloworld Travel. (He is not so good at billing people.) All Coalition members, so they probably send each other Christmas cards. Or they could meet at church. Put it this way – they wouldn’t meet at a gay bar.
There is one Labor Party apparatchik, Graham Richardson. Including him in the list of recipients is almost awarding him ‘honorary Liberal’ status. He is certainly a man with a colourful past, and many colourful friends. Some of them have been sent to jail, and there is surprise and wonder, in some circles, that he didn’t join them.
Why are the awards losing credibility?
Where to start with these awards? Abbott, for services to democracy, in destroying Turnbull’s leadership; for services to Parliament, for debasing it; for services to the indigenous community, for cutting indigenous funding to the bone; for being an embarrassment to the country for a quarter of a century, for eating an onion like an apple, for supporting George Pell? For opposing same-sex marriage? For wearing speedos! For ruining Australia’s response to climate change, and for sabotaging the renewable energy industry. For his misogyny? Remember Julia Gillard, and Gillian Triggs, and how atrociously he treated them, and their roles.
Bronwyn Bishop, for being hounded out of Parliament for fudging her entitlements? She went on to become a political commentator for Fox News. One can only hope she is better at that job than she was as Speaker of the House. She was certainly no Joan Child! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Child
Philip Ruddock, for sustained acts of homophobia over a very long career? Or was it for his peerless report into religious freedoms in Australia? Arguably the most meaningless review in Parliamentary history. Or the fact that his own daughter shunned him for his abominable treatment of refugees? Was he Peter Dutton’s role model for a heartless xenophobe, before it was fashionable?
It is too tedious to recount the names and misdeeds of any more of the politician recipients, but suffice to say that the Australian public noticed. We all applaud the volunteers who really keep this country going as well as it does. So there is no excuse for the Awards Council to turn a blind eye, and a tin ear, to the degradation of the awards. What were they thinking?
3 thoughts on “2020 Honours List a sick joke”
From the moment that these honours were published I`ve been waiting to read commentary calling them out for what they are, disgusting, not all of them, just those few of top group of overpaid scumbags for the damage they have done for the concept of Australian Honours awards.
So thank you Mark for having the guts to do what needed to be done. Great that you have also revealed just who are the members of the selection panel. They needed to be exposed too for their shonkyness.
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If this country is to get back some self respect for the rule of law and human decency, it will require more than the protestors from the “Black Lives Matter” it will require a Federal ICAC and the likes of those mentioned in the above article would become a thing of the past. Wealth attained as a result of political corruption should carry jail sentences of 30 years.
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The opinion is too restrained, Bucko. When it comes to the aspiring suppository of wisdom – aka Toby Armpitt – you cannot tread too lightly – one should feel free to press the heel of the workboot right down into the back of his neck, return the favours he’d bestow on serving PM Gillard when standing next to “Bob Brown’s Bitch” placards, et cetera.
Australians should recognise that awarding the highest civilian honour to this parasitical wart on the arse-end of progress debases the value of the AC, AO, AM and OAM. The self-confessed liar whose spoken words were not to be taken at face value, on his own advice. The hi-visibility running, swimming, cycling and publicly-subsidised piss-head self-promoter who, on the wonderful evening that he was kicked out of the Prime Ministership by his own colleagues, held a party with his loyal cabal which reportedly drank so much alcohol that one of his sycophant acolytes – a junior minister named Jamie Briggs – reportedly danced on furniture, a side table, breaking it – failed to report and repair damage to public property until the fact of that matter was publicly reported days later: and to which the self-aggrandising Armpitt then offered to pay for the damaged furniture to be repaired or replaced as though he was doing us all a big favour, a sacrifice himself yet again to the public good rather than just simply tidying up his own messes.
When Health Minister, signed off to publish a public scientific report on the emerging public health threats from global warming enabling the habitats of insect vectors like mosquitoes to spread further south through the Australian Continent, thus exposing more of the population to the risk of contracting Ross River virus and other debilitating diseases, and yet who in opposition would declare to “his friends’ that climate change is “… all bullshit” and who would go on to associate himself publicly with a notorious and bizarrely unqualified climate commentator with a bad case of strabismus, one Lord Monckton – a joke character from a Marx Bros movie, if it wasn’t so serious!
In Hyde Park South in Sydney, the art-deco style memorial to the Australian sacrifices of the First World War stands, with magnificent huge stone figures of serving men and women, the two bronze friezes representing Mid-Eastern & Western fronts, names of battlefields, solemn outstretched figure of fallen soldier in in the well below the starry dome supported on shield and sword by three women. The foundation stones for this solemn memorial contain no names of the officials who opened the memorial: one stone reads: “This foundation stone was laid by a civilian”, the other second foundation stone is inscribed. “This … stone was laid by a soldier”. It is my understanding that the soldier was a high-rank general, whilst the un-named civilian was the Governor-General. Contrast that anonymity of the officials, who chose to leave the deserved recognition to the people for whom the memorial is actually dedicated with the Middle Harbour memorial to HMAS Sydney – where there may be no names of the serving sailors but there are plaques honouring one Member for Bennelong and one Member for Warringah for having assigned public monies to carpark and viewing platform restoration and public toilets.
Another shameful debasement of the Australian Honours is letting one go to the most openly biased Speaker the House of Reps has yet seen in our history, one former Member for Berowra, and another Honours award going to the Armpitt’s personal advisor/ press secretary – one Peta Credlin who gloats publicly that it was her strategy to advise Toby Armpitt to call the Gillard Emissions Trading Scheme a tax. AXE THE TAX.,
These dreadful bastards being given gongs just turn upside down and inside out what it must used to have been to serve the interests of the general public, of the whole of society, whether the people voted for or against you. I have to re-visit Tony Judt’s “Ill Fares The Land”. Peace to you and your readers.