Is the Australia Day Council getting a bit defensive about the fact
that Nicole Kidman is in running for the Australian of the Year?
Decide for yourself when you read the letter below:
Will arguably the worst year ever for Australian film be remembered as
the year Nicole Kidman was named Australian of the Year? Unlikely, but
eerily possible.

Kidman’s nomination as the NSW entry caused groans locally, but did cause a few ripples in the subcontinent. But with Kidman drifting in betting for the title (yes, they bet on that too, The AgeBurns expert favourite for Australian of the Year) it appears the Australia Day Council itself is feeling the heat.

A Crikey subscriber wrote to the council querying Kidman’s nomination, and received the following very defensive reply:

RE: Australian of the Year
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2004 13:42:57 +1100
From: “Catherine McElhone”
To: John Doe

Thank you for your interest in the Australian of the Year Awards 2005.

While your issue relates specifically to the New South Wales Australian
of the Year Award 2005, I would also like to emphasise that five awards
were announced on 30 November at the New South Wales
presentation. The family of Awards, Australian of the Year, Young
Australian, Senior Australian and Local Hero – Metropolitan &
Regional, provides five inspirational Australians for the state’s focus.

The state/territory recipients are selected by the New South Wales selection committee against set criteria:

  1. Demonstrated excellence
  2. Significant contribution to the Australian community and nation
  3. An inspirational role model for the Australian community

Nicole Kidman was selected as the New South Wales Australian of the
Year 2005 for her success as an actress, contribution to helping those
less fortunate than herself, and because she inspires other Australians
to achieve their dreams.

Demonstrated excellence

At the top for her craft, Nicole Kidman represents Australia on the
international stage. She is one of Australia’s best know cultural
exports, received international acclaim for many roles and was the
first Australian actress ever to receive an Academy Award for her
portrayal of Virginia Wolf in The Hours.

Significant contribution to the Australian community and nation

Nicole Kidman is an outstanding Australian. She is an ambassador for
New South Wales’ and Australia’s foreign trade, and has been actively
involved Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation which leads the
international fight against breast cancer through its support of
innovative research and community-based outreach programs.

An inspirational role model for the Australian community

Apart from being an outstanding actress, Nicole is an inspirational
role model. Nicole publicly supports a variety of charities and
causes. She has been a high profile Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF
Australia since 1994. Her outstanding work helps raise money for and
draw attention to the plight of and the most disadvantaged children in
Australia and around the world. Nicole’s charity work is so highly
regarded she was recently honoured as a ‘Citizen of the World’ by the
United Nations.

The selection committee determined that Nicole’s success, hard work and
contributions to those less fortunate made her the most appropriate
choice for the New South Wales Australian of the Year Award 2005.

Nicole Kidman will now be considered for the national award along with
the other state and territory Australian of the Year recipients. The
recipients include:

  • Victoria – Rodney Cocks CSM
  • Queensland – Bill Bristow
  • South Australia – Dr Michael Bossley
  • Western Australia – Dr Fiona Wood
  • Tasmania – David Foster
  • Australian Capital Territory – Julie Hammer
  • Northern Territory – David Gulpilil

I encourage you to visit our website and read about these inspirational
Australians, and all the other finalists and recipients for the Awards.

To ensure the committees are able to select the Award recipients from
the most inspiring and successful Australians, we rely on the public to
nominate someone they feel should be considered for the Awards. I would
encourage you to nominate someone for the Australian of the Year Awards
2006 via the online nomination form at www.australianoftheyear.gov.au

Thank you again for your comments and interest and I will pass them
onto the National Australia Day Council Board for their information.

Yours sincerely
Catherine McElhone
National Manager, Awards

Crikey: So there you have it. That’s a whole lot of words
to explain why Our Nicole is “the most appropriate choice for the New
South Wales Australian of the Year Award 2005.” No doubt she’s a
nice person, but her appointment smacks of a PR exercise, and a
clumsily handled one at that.