By Stephen Mayne, never gonged

A number of emails came in yesterday defending the Queen’s Birthday gong for former 60 Minutes
reporter Jeff McMullen and some of them made the very valid point that
it is his charity work after leaving Channel Nine that justified the
award. As one subscriber writes:

Jeff has been a tireless worker for charity, especially a
wonderful program devoted to improving literacy among indigenous kids.
I don’t know him, but I do know his work and its results which are
extremely valuable and to be much admired. You would be hard-pressed to
compile a long list of journalists noted for their philanthropy. Jeff
would be near the top, and his recognition is deserved. McMullen is
actually the unpaid CEO of Ian Thorpe’s charitable foundation and his work promoting children’s literacy even attracted a $1 million grant from the Federal Government.

Meanwhile, we’ve stumbled across the first potential scandal of this
year’s honours list. We can’t name the gentleman concerned yet but he
did appear in Monday’s list of 817 recipients for his services to
“business and economic development”.

gentleman donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Federal
politician over the past decade and the favour was returned when the MP
put a staffer almost full time in charge of generating references to
support the gong, which finally came through this week after a two year
campaign. It’s an utterly blatant case of gongs for donations and you
can be confident this has been quite widespread over the years,
although the media has never broken a single yarn.

In summary, it is possible to buy an honour – something which is
particularly dishonourable about our system of gonging people. The cash
for peerages scandal has blown wide open in the UK this year – how
long will it take to blow up here?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey