By Stephen Mayne

How open and transparent is Australia’s
system of gongs? Well, the highest honour possible is the AC – the Companion of the Order of Australia – and there
have only been 135 of these dished out over the Howard years. Go
through the complete list for yourself and you’ll detect a distinct
bias in favour of conservative figures and large donors to the Liberal

Indeed, subscriber Brendan Giffney emailed through the
following last week: “I congratulated Dick Pratt a few years ago after
he received his gong. His honest reply was: ‘Why congratulate me. I
bought it’.”

These are the most obvious ones:

Doug Anthony: former National Party leader
Sir Rod Carnegie: long time Liberal supporter whom Greiner government appointed chair of GIO
Richard Court: former WA Liberal Premier
John Fahey: Howard’s first Finance Minister and an average NSW Liberal Premier
Charles Goode: ANZ and Woodside chairman who chairs Liberal Party fundraiser
Dame Margaret Guilfoyle: former Liberal senator from Victoria
Jeff Kennett: former Victorian Premier
James Killen: former Liberal Minister in the Gorton government
Donald McDonald: ABC chairman and close mate of the PM’s
Max Moore-Wilton: Long-time Liberal supporter and Howard’s first departmental head
Hugh Morgan: former WMC CEO and prominent Liberal fundraiser
Maurice Newman: ASX chairman and old mate of the PM
Andrew Peacock: former Federal Liberal leader and Foreign Minister
Ian Sinclair: former National Party leader
Shane Stone: former Federal Liberal President
Ron Walker: most prolific Liberal bagman in history

And who are the obvious Labor figures? We can only come up with the following:

Jim Bacon: the former Tasmanian premier was gonged posthumously
Richard Butler: former chief UN weapons inspector and Tasmanian governor
Michael Field: former Tasmanian Labor Premier

you have the link between donations and gongs which is something we’ll
be exploring further in the coming days. If the political bias is so
obvious, it’s hardly a stretch to assume that big cheques for the
Liberal Party will smooth the way.