Peta Credlin is among the Australians honoured in the Queen's Birthday awards

Peta Credlin's gong follows the Queen's Birthday honour awarded to her former boss, Tony Abbott, last year.

Peta Credlin speaks during a book launch in Sydney, Monday, November 25, 2019. A Politically Correct Dictionary and Guide, by conservative commentator Dr Kevin Donnelly was today launched in Sydney. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING

Peta Credlin has been recognised in the latest Queen's Birthday honours. Source: AAP

A prominent AFL figure turned disability advocate, the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Tony Abbott's former advisor are among the more than one thousand Australians recognised as part of this year's Queen's Birthday honours.

Neale Daniher, Frances Adamson and Peta Credlin are three of the 1,190 people given recognition this year on a list also notable for the increased number of women.

Five people received the highest gong, the Companion of the Order of Australia: Ms Adamson, former judge Barbara Baker, scientist Kurt Lambert, Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane Phillip Aspinall, and ballet supremo David McAllister. 

The award for Ms Credlin - who has been made an Officer of the Order of Australia for "distinguished service to parliament and politics, to policy development, and to the executive function of government" - comes after .

Tony Abbott speaks to chief of staff Peta Credlin in 2015.
Tony Abbott consults his then-chief of staff Peta Credlin. Source: AAP

Ms Credlin is a well-credentialed Liberal Party operative who was Mr Abbott's chief of staff between 2009 and 2015. Her career in politics stretches back to 1999 when she became a staffer for former Liberal Senator Kay Patterson.

She currently hosts a show on Sky News, which bills her as "Australia's most sought out political commentator".

The channel was forced to apologise on her behalf in June last year when she said Melbourne’s COVID-19 outbreak .

“When are we going to wake up to the fact that encouraging people to live here as South Sudanese speaking Dinka, rather than as Australians speaking English, is not good for our society?” she said at the time.

Record number of women

The 2021 Queen's Birthday Honours list includes the highest percentage of women - 44 per cent - ever recognised in the general division of the Order of Australia.

Governor-General David Hurley said it was crucial the Queen's Birthday list reflected Australia's diversity. 

"For this to happen we need to ensure outstanding women, members of our multicultural community and First Nations people are nominated by their peers in the community," he said in a statement. 

"I am prioritising increasing awareness of and engagement with the Order of Australia amongst groups that have been historically underrepresented. We are seeing positive progress and I am determined that it continues."

The list is also heavily influenced by the coronavirus crisis, with 63 Australians honoured for their contribution to fighting the pandemic.

Other honourees on the 2021 roll include Christine Nixon, the first female police chief in Australia, refugee advocates Erika Feller and Jane McAdam, and multicultural youth leader Thuat Van Nguyen.

Neale Daniher
Neale Daniher has been honoured for his work fighting motor neurone disease. Source: AAP

Recent controversy

The honours system has been a source of regular controversy in recent years.

Ms Credlin's former boss, Mr Abbott, was himself included on the Queen's Birthday list last year for, among other things, his contributions to Australia's Indigenous community.

Just a week after he was honoured, Mr Abbott was heavily criticised for suggesting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people .

While prime minister, Mr Abbott also caused a stir when he returned the titles of knights and dames into the honours system - and controversially awarded a knighthood to the Queen's late husband, Prince Philip.

The knights and dames titles were later scrapped by his successor, Malcolm Turnbull.

Separately, the Order of Australia committee was last year forced to review awards handed out to men's rights activist Bettina Arndt and journalist Mike Carlton.

Margaret Court has been appointed a Companion to the Order of Australia.
The inclusion of Margaret Court in recent honours lists has sparked outrage. Source: AAP

Complaints about Ms Arndt receiving the Australia Day honour were referred to the Council of the Order of Australia, following widespread condemnation among sexual assault survivors and domestic violence prevention advocates. Mr Carlton also drew heavy criticism for derogatory past remarks about women and Jewish people.

Canberra doctor Clara Tuck Meng Soo earlier this year said after it was revealed tennis great Margaret Court would receive a second Australia Day honour.

"The impression that the Council for the Order of Australia is giving to the Australian public is they seem to be rewarding her for all the hurtful, derogatory comments that she's made about the LGBTIQ+ community," she said at the time.

Anyone can nominate a member of the community for an award in the Order of Australia by filling out an online form and providing referees.

The nominations are then assessed by the Honours and Awards Secretariat before they are considered by the Council for the Order of Australia and then approved by the Governor-General.

5 min read
Published 13 June 2021 at 10:07pm
By SBS News
Source: SBS