Hugh Jackman, Ita Buttrose, Rosie Batty, and Kevin Rudd are among nearly 1000 Australians receiving 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Sports stars, world-changing scientists and politicians rub shoulders with Indigenous leaders and community champions on the diverse list, the last bestowed by outgoing Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove.
This year’s line-up has already drawn criticism, however, with 200 fewer women on the General Division list than men. Of 993 recipients, 395 are women. At 40 per cent, though, it’s the highest ever percentage of female recipients in the Order of Australia.
The consummate boy from Oz, Jackman is commended for his service to the performing arts and “to the global community, particularly as an advocate for poverty eradication”, and becomes a Companion of the Order of Australia.
“As the youngest son of parents who made the decision to immigrate to Australia the year before I was born, this honour is especially emotional and humbling to me,” Jackman said.
Newly minted ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose (AO, OBE) joins Jackman as a recipient of the top General Division honour, adding AC to a collect-the-set array recognising her extraordinary life.
Other Companions of the Order of Australia include former ACTU president Sharan Burrow, two-time prime minister Kevin Rudd and scientists, professors Ruth Bishop AO, David Burke AO, Maree Smith and Leo Radom.
Former Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, campaigner for the prevention of family violence, becomes an Officer of the Order of Australia.
Other well known women on the honours list include Alisa Camplin-Warner, commentator and author Jane Caro, business leader Kathryn Fagg, West Australian philanthropist Nicola Forrest and game-changing quantum physicist Professor Michelle Simmons.
Founders of iconic fashion brand sass & bide, Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton, make the list, as does pioneering celebrity chef Elizabeth Chong.
The Project’s Carrie Bickmore is recognised, as is arts/television all-rounder David Campbell, actor Sigrid Thornton, ABC journalist Leigh Sales (AM) and veteran sports commentator Ken Sutcliffe.
International superstar Eric Bana becomes a Member of the Order of Australia for his contribution to the arts and charity.
Sports identities honoured include Wallabies veteran Stephen Moore, St Kilda’s AFLW coach Peta Searle, basketballer Luc Longley, rugby league’s Peter Corcoran, netball’s Noeleen Dix, cricketer Michael Whitney, paralympian Eliza Jane Ault-Connell, tennis legend Frank Sedgman and Richmond Football Club president Peggy O’Neal.
Queensland Ballet’s artistic director and former dancer Li Cunxin, known the world over for his best-selling memoir-turned-movie, Mao’s Last Dancer, is acknowledged for distinguished service to the performing arts.
He told The New Daily he understands that his extraordinary life story, including his escape from China has “been taken as a source of inspiration or courage”, but that he has been lucky to have been able to follow his dreams.
“Obviously the award is very thrilling, but also very humbling,” he said.
Other arts identities recognised include singer/songwriter Guy Sebastian (AM) novelist Di Morrissey, illustrator Anna Fienberg and film and television director/cinematographer Ray Argall.
Politicians include former Northern Territory chief minister Clare Martin, Nick Minchin, Laurie Ferguson and Natasha Stott Despoja. Awards went to a range of Indigenous leaders and community activists including Ricky Grace and South Australians Jack and Gwen Crombie.
Trailblazing pilot Deborah Lawrie was acknowledged for significant service to aviation and to women in the profession.
As Deborah Wardley, Lawrie pursued her dream of a career as a commercial pilot – at that time, Australia’s first for a major airline – all the way to the High Court in 1980, with Ansett Airlines challenging her capacity to do the job to the bitter end. Lawrie won a landmark sex-discrimination ruling, and has enjoyed a varied international career as a commercial pilot.
Speaking to The New Daily from a holiday cruise off the UK coast, Lawrie, a pilot/instructor with Tigerair Australia for the past seven years, says she harbours no resentment, despite the bruising start to her professional life.
“There was much scepticism as to whether I would be able to fly large commercial aircraft, whether I would be able to cope in emergency situations and that I would stay in the career for any length of time,” she said.
“I look back now after 40 years of airline flying with amusement, and satisfaction that I proved them wrong.”
The full 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 1214 includes military and public service accolades as well as General Division awards.
Anyone can nominate any Australian for an award in the Order of Australia. If you know someone worthy, nominate them now at www.gg.gov.au