The Howard Government has dished out 135 of the highest honor, the AC, since coming to office in 1996 and the newest dozen or so will be revealed on Australia Day.

Have a look at the 135 AC recipients since 1996 and ask yourself the question – which more deserving individuals have missed out?

A disproportionately large number have been to business and political leaders and I reckon the gongs committee got it wrong in giving an AC to the following suits:

  • 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 now flogging Qantas to the private equity barbarians
  • 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 big time 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

So which business leaders deserve an AC that haven’t yet got one?

QBE Insurance CEO Frank O’Halloran and CSL boss Brian McNamee are the two stand-out performers for mine, with Macquarie Bank CEO Allan Moss not far behind.

However, no incumbent CEO of a listed company has picked one up. You usually have to retire first, so that would suggest the likes of CBA’s David Murray and former Woolies CEO Roger Corbett could be in the frame on Australia Day.

Who do you think deserves an AC this year? Send your entries to [email protected].

Peter Fray

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