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

Controversial pandemic prime minister Daniel Andrews has received the highest honor in this year’s King’s Birthday Honors List.

Revered or reviled for sticking to his decision to keep his state locked down for 262 days and locking Melbourne in a “ring of steel”, his controversial decisions nevertheless led to the Labor Party of Victoria cementing a landslide election in 2022.

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

Andrews, who is the longest-serving Labor premier in his state’s history, was recognized for his “outstanding service to the people and parliament of Victoria, and his contribution to political and regulatory reform, and infrastructure development.” .

Leaving office in September 2023, Andrews said “it’s time”.

“Recently, talking to my children and Cath (his wife), thoughts about what life will be like after this job have started to creep in,” he said.

“I’ve always known that the moment that happens it’s time to go and give this privilege, this amazing responsibility to someone else.”

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

“Daniel Andrews has never been someone who shirked his responsibilities,” he said.

“He stood up every day during the pandemic, he stood up to do what he believed was absolutely right, to keep Victoria safe.

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

After politics, Andrews moved into the private sector and is working with mining billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest through his consultancy firm Forty Eight and Partners.

MARK McGOWAN – AC

Despite being born in the NSW coastal city of Newcastle, Mark McGowan has become Western Australia’s most popular premier during his leadership during the Covid pandemic.

His 2020 approval rating hit a record 91%, with the WA Labor Party winning an overwhelming majority of 53 of 59 seats in the 2021 state election.

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

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

McGowan fired back and accused Joyce of launching “vulgar and cheap attacks on WA”.

Notably, the former premier was also embroiled in a $30 billion defamation lawsuit from Queensland mining giant Clive Palmer, who McGowan criticized as an “enemy of the state”.

Stepping down as premier in May 2023, McGowan said he had been considering the decision “for quite a while”.

“I’m tired, extremely tired. In fact, I’m exhausted,” she said.

“The role of political leadership does not stop, it is relentless, with enormous responsibilities but it is all-consuming, every day. And combined with the COVID-19 years, it took my mind off it.”

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

Like Andrews, McGowan entered the private sector, taking a part-time role at Bondi Partners, former federal treasurer Joe Hockey’s consultancy that promotes trade and business between Australia and the United States.

Sam Mostyn – AC

Sam Mostyn, a champion of gender equality and social justice, was also honored 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 the position and will replace David Hurley.

Ms Mostyn was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to business, community and women in 2001, and has an impressive track record being the current Chair of the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce.

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

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

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

“This understanding has guided Sam’s tireless advocacy for gender equality, particularly in business, women’s safety and reconciliation.”

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

HAMISH BLAKE – OAM

A household name, Hamish Blake was awarded the Order of Australia medal for his services to the arts and community.

One of Australia’s most famous comedians, Blake is best known as one half of the comedy duo Hamish & Andy, with his work alongside best friend Andy Lee establishing them both with long-standing careers spanning radio, podcasting and television.

The 42-year-old famously dropped out of a dual science/business degree at the University of Melbourne after meeting Lee to pursue a career in comedy, catching the industry’s attention with their show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2003.

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

Speaking about their collaboration with the Sydney Morning Herald in 2023, Blake said he and Lee share a telepathic bond.

“You realize that about 90% of what happens between me and Andy is telepathy, which means you have about 90% more bandwidth to do other things,” he said.

“And then when you’re not with someone that you have telepathy with, suddenly it feels like it’s a lot of work just to get to the basic level.”

Blake’s solo work includes hosting Lego Masters Australia on the Nine Network, and he was also recently announced as the next host of the second season of Alone Australia, and is a two-time Gold Logie Award winner.

His nod to the king’s birthday also recognizes his contribution to the community. Blake is an ambassador for food charity Foodbank and Tourism Australia.

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

GLENN MCGRATH – AO

The former international cricketer may be known as one of Australia’s greatest fast bowlers, but his contributions off the field have helped families support loved ones through breast cancer.

Starting his cricket career in the regional NSW town of Narromine, Glenn McGrath’s 14-year Test cricket career saw him play 124 matches, bowling a total of 29,248 balls.

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

However, it was tragedy that pushed him into philanthropy through the breast cancer charity, the McGrath Foundation.

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

The couple started the charity in 2005, with the aim of funding McGrath Breast Care nurses to support patients and families during treatment.

To date, the charity has supported 137,000 families across Australia, through 223 nurses.

Mr. McGrath remains president of the foundation,

In honor of Ms McGrath’s legacy, the Sydney Cricket Ground is transformed into a sea of ​​pink for the third day of the annual New Year Test, which also raises money for charity.

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

McGrath said at the time that it was a huge breakthrough for cancer treatment.

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

“My family understands first-hand the incredible difference these treatments make, so knowing that Australians will soon have access to these treatments, regardless of what type of cancer they have, leaves me speechless.”

JIMMY REES – OAM

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

This achievement, in addition to his continued career as a comedian, earned him a medal of the Order of Australia for his service to the entertainment industry.

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

“This was a really difficult decision (to leave the show). But to the public, I’m sure I’ll be Jimmy Giggle for a long time,” he said.

“These days I have 16- and 17-year-olds coming up to me and saying, ‘I looked at you.’”

Since leaving children’s entertainment, Rees has found viral success through his comedy, starring in skits 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’, taking his comedy to cities across Australia.

PETER BLUNDER – AM

With a media career spanning almost five decades, News Corp Australia’s national executive editor Peter Blunden’s beginnings in journalism began with a cadetship at the Sunday Telegraph.

Since then, he has written stories and shaped the pages of the Adelaide Advertiser, the Australian and the Herald Sun, covering world-changing events such as the September 11 terrorist attacks, the death of Princess Diana, the Port Arthur, countless wars and changes in history. command.

He was also a founder of The Weekend Australian magazine in 1988, a publication still in print today.

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

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

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

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