While my top 20
Australian business figures over the past 25 years is hardly perfect,
it has a lot more quality control than the Howard Government’s gong
panels over the past decade.

Have a look at the 135 AC recipients
since 1996 and you’ll notice that only three of them are in my top 20 –
Frank Lowy, Gary Pemberton and Dick Pratt. And when it comes to gonging
business leaders, I reckon the Howard Government got it wrong in giving
an AC to the following:

Tim Besley:
chaired CBA and Leighton well but was completely asleep as chairman of the Wheat Export Authority
Sir Rod Carnegie: sacked as CRA boss, quit the GIO chair prematurely and was publicly attacked by his former CEO at Newcrest
Ross Dunning: can’t say why due to suppression orders
Margaret Jackson: chaired the BHP and Pacific Dunlop audit committees when both came a cropper and Qantas shares hit a three year low
John Landels: not a bad leader of Caltex for 14 years but Liberal connections shouldn’t have delivered a first division gong
Hugh Morgan:
nasty right wing record on race and should have been sacked when WMC lost $500 million in Canada
Maurice Newman: chairing a gouging monopoly like the ASX is nothing special
Nick Paspaley: whatever merit is coloured by excessive Liberal Party donations
John Prescott: presided over almost $10 billion in losses at BHP
John Uhrig: sold out Australia by merging CRA with Rio Tinto and letting the whole show be run out of London
Stan Wallis: the AMP chairman in charge when almost $10 billion was dropped in the UK
Sir Bruce Watson: MIM was hardly a standout performer for all those years when led by this fellow

A cut above this group in a “defendable” category of AC recipients are
Charles Curran, Transfield founders Carlo Salteri and Franco
Belgiorno-Nettis, Douglas Daft, Robert de Crespigny and Charles Goode.

These sorts of comments are always highly subjective so all feedback is welcome to [email protected]

Peter Fray

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