23 January 2021

Jacqueline Maley and Nigel Gladstone: “[A]nalysis of the Order of Australia honours system highlights … the general trend towards granting the highest honours overwhelmingly to the rich, the powerful, the well-connected and the male. [A]nalysis of winners over the 45-year life of the awards shows that a quarter of the top 200 on The Australian Financial Review’s2019 Rich List have an Order of Australia, and they overwhelmingly have the higher-level honours. About 130 directors of boards of ASX 300 companies have an Order of Australia, and the suburbs AC and AO recipients are most likely to live in are Toorak in Melbourne (which boasts 67 of them) and Mosman in Sydney (57), followed by Melbourne’s South Yarra (45) and Kew (34). Sydney’s exclusive Vaucluse has 39 ACs and AOs. The highest-level award, the AC, has never been given to anyone in the ‘Multicultural’ or ‘Disabled’ fields of endeavour, but of the 30 fields awards are given to, the ‘Parliament and Politics’ category boasts 42 ACs, while ‘Business and Commerce’ leaders have collected 48 of them. More than 320 state and federal politicians have been honoured with the higher-level awards (AM, AO, AC), with a record 20 bestowed with gongs in 2020, more than half of them from the conservative side of politics. Women account for only 31 per cent of Order of Australia appointments. No statistics exist on the percentage of Indigenous nominees or recipients, but the Council for the Order of Australia, which selects the recipients, has not had an Indigenous community member since 2012.”