King’s Birthday Honours: Former Victorian premier Daniel Andrews given AC for Covid leadership

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Prime Minister Daniel Andrews, who has caused unrest during the pandemic, received the highest award on this year’s Royal Birthday Honours List.

His controversial decisions to lock down the state for 262 days and enclose Melbourne in a “ring of steel” were either revered or despised, yet the Labor Party in Victoria secured a landslide victory in the 2022 election.

The golf enthusiast has now been appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia along with six other eminent Australians, including his former Western Australian counterpart Mark McGowan.

Mr Andrews, the longest-serving Labor premier in his state’s history, was honoured for his “outstanding service to the people and Parliament of Victoria, and his contribution to policy and regulatory reform and infrastructure development”.

As he steps down from office in September 2023, Mr Andrews says: “It’s time.”

“As I was talking to my children and Cath (his wife) recently, I started thinking about what life will be like after this job,” he said.

“I always knew that the moment that happened, it would be time to go and hand over this privilege, this incredible responsibility, to someone else.”

At the time, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese paid tribute to his long-time friend, calling him “a man of great conviction, tremendous compassion and a passionate determination to make a difference.”

“Daniel Andrews has never been one to shirk his responsibilities,” he said.

“He got up every day during the pandemic and did what he believed was absolutely the right thing to do: keep the people of Victoria safe.

“Don’t make easy decisions, make difficult decisions.”

After leaving politics, Mr Andrews moved into the private sector and works with mining billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest through his consulting firm Forty Eight and Partners.

MARK McGOWAN – AC

Although Mark McGowan was born in the coastal city of Newcastle in the state of New South Wales, he became Western Australia’s most popular premier during his time in office during the Covid pandemic.

His approval ratings reached a record high of 91 percent in 2020 and the WA Labor Party won a landslide victory in the 2021 state election, winning 53 of 59 seats.

Despite his growing popularity in his state, McGowan’s strict border policies during the pandemic and his reluctance to reopen the state have been criticized.

Then-Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce compared Western Australia to North Korea and said the state was in danger of becoming a “hermit kingdom”.

Mr McGowan returned fire, accusing Mr Joyce of launching “tasteless, cheap attacks against WA”.

Notably, the former prime minister was also involved in a $30 billion defamation suit brought by Queensland mining giant Clive Palmer, who described Mr McGowan as an “enemy of the state”.

McGowan, who will step down as prime minister in May 2023, said he had been considering the decision for “quite a long time”.

“I’m tired, extremely tired. Actually, I’m exhausted,” he said.

“The role of political leadership never ends, it is relentless, it comes with enormous responsibility, but it is all-consuming every day. And combined with the COVID-19 years, it has exhausted me.”

Then Deputy Prime Minister Robert Cook succeeded Mr McGowan as the current Premier of WA.

Like Mr Andrews, Mr McGowan has since moved into the private sector, including a part-time role at Bondi Partners, former federal treasurer Joe Hockey’s consultancy firm that promotes trade and business between Australia and the United States.

Sam Mostyn – AC

Gender equality and social justice advocate Sam Mostyn was also honoured with a Companion of the Order of Australia before being sworn in as Australia’s 28th Governor-General on July 1.

The businesswoman and lawyer is the second woman to hold this position and succeeds David Hurley.

For her outstanding service to business, society and women, Ms Mostyn was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia in 2001 and has an impressive CV as the current Chair of the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce.

She was also the first woman in Australia to be appointed as an AFL Commissioner and has held senior positions at Reconciliation Australia, Beyond Blue, the Australia Council for the Art and the National Mental Health Commission.

Announcing Ms Mostyn’s appointment, Mr Albanese said she was an “extraordinary leader” and represented the “best of modern Australia”.

“She lived her life in service to a powerful Australian principle. When more people have the opportunity to fulfil their potential, our nation is a better place,” Albanese said.

“This understanding drove Sam’s tireless commitment to gender equality, particularly in business, women’s safety and reconciliation.”

She will succeed current Governor General David Hurley, who has held the position since 2019.

HAMISH BLAKE – OAM

The well-known Hamish Blake was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his services to art and society.

Blake is one of Australia’s most renowned comedians and is best known as one half of the comedy duo Hamish & Andy. Working with his best friend Andy Lee, the pair have built long-standing careers in radio, podcasts and television.

The 42-year-old famously dropped out of his double degree in science and economics at the University of Melbourne after meeting Lee to pursue a career as a comedian and caught the industry’s attention with his show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2003.

The pair dominated the airwaves with their long-running drivetime radio show, also known as Hamish & Andy, and still host a weekly podcast under the same name.

When Blake spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald about their partnership in 2023, he said there was a telepathic connection between him and Lee.

“Because you know, 90 percent of what happens between Andy and I is telepathy, which means you have 90 percent more bandwidth to do other things,” he said.

“And then if you’re not with someone you can communicate with telepathically, it suddenly feels like it’s a lot of work just to get to a basic level.”

Blake’s solo work includes hosting Lego Masters Australia on the Nine Network and was recently announced as the upcoming host of the second season of Alone Australia, which won two Gold Logie Awards.

His nomination for the King’s Birthday also recognises his contribution to the community. Blake is an ambassador for the food organisation Foodbank and Tourism Australia.

Blake is married to acclaimed author and founder of Australian skincare brand Go-To, Zoe Foster Blake. The couple live in Sydney and have two children, Sonny and Rudy.

GLENN MCGRATH – AO

While the former international cricketer is considered one of Australia’s best fast bowlers, it was his contributions off the field that helped families support their loved ones coping with breast cancer.

Glenn McGrath began his cricket career in the regional town of Narromine in New South Wales and has played 124 matches in his 14-year Test cricket career, bowling a total of 29,248 balls.

Since his retirement in 2007, McGrath was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2011.

However, it was a tragedy that led him to become involved with the breast cancer charity McGrath Foundation.

The organization was co-founded by McGrath and his late wife Jane, who died in 2008 after a second battle with cancer.

The couple founded the charity in 2005 with the aim of providing financial support to McGrath Breast Care Nurses so that patients and families can be supported during their treatment.

To date, the charity and its 223 nurses have supported 137,000 families across Australia.

Mr McGrath remains President of the Foundation,

To honour Ms McGrath’s legacy, the Sydney Cricket Ground will be transformed into a sea of ​​pink on the third day of the annual New Year’s Test, which will also raise funds for the charity.

In 2023, the foundation was commissioned by the federal government to hire 100 nurses to help care for and support cancer patients, regardless of the disease, as part of a $166 million relief package.

At the time, Mr McGrath said it was a huge step for cancer treatment.

“When we started the foundation, we hoped we could make a positive difference for just one family,” he said.

“My family knows first-hand what an incredible difference this treatment makes. Knowing that Australians will soon have access to this treatment, no matter what type of cancer they have, just blows my mind.”

JIMMY REES – OAM

For more than a decade, between 2009 and 2020, Jimmy Rees was perhaps better known by his on-screen name Jimmy Giggle. The Melbourne man hosted ABC’s flagship children’s program, Giggles and Hoot.

This performance, as well as his continued career as a comedian, earned him a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to entertainment.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald in 2019, the 36-year-old acknowledged the lasting impact of his character.

“The decision (to leave the show) was really difficult for me. But for the public, I am sure I will be Jimmy Giggle for a long time to come,” he said.

“These days, 16- and 17-year-olds come to me and say, ‘I’ve been watching you.'”

Since leaving children’s entertainment, Rees has enjoyed viral success with his comedy, appearing as a skit host on Instagram and entertaining a whole new generation of Australians during lockdown.

Since February this year, Rees has been touring with his comedy show “Let’s Get Regional,” bringing his comedy to cities across Australia.

PETER BLUNDER – AM

Peter Blunden, national editor of News Corp Australia, has had a media career spanning almost five decades, beginning his journalistic career with an apprenticeship at the Sunday Telegraph.

Since then, he has made headlines and graced the pages of the Adelaide Advertiser, the Australian and the Herald Sun, covering world-shaking events such as the September 11 terrorist attacks, the death of Princess Diana, the Port Arthur massacre, countless wars and leadership changes.

He was also one of the founders of the Australian magazine “The Weekend” in 1988, which is still published today.

“I am deeply honored to be recognized for something I have loved doing all my life,” he said.

“Every day was different, some were very challenging. But above all it’s about the people. Knowing what the audience wants and working with great people to produce something special every day.”

Outside the newsroom, Mr Blunden also serves on charity boards of the Royal Children’s Hospital, the Good Friday Appeal and the Alannah and Madeline Foundation.

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