Queen's birthday honours

Today is the official Queens birthday -- which, with good British eccentricity, is not her actual birthday. It is a holiday in Australia and it is also the time for the government to hand out "honours", mostly medals, to people whose lives and deeds are deemed worthy of official recognition.

Those honoured are however a strange bunch. There is a guy who spends most of his time climbing high mountains rather than doing anything useful and also a has-been centrist politician who was only ever a pretty face. And honouring the disastrous Mick Keelty, former federal police commissioner, is a strange decision indeed.

I could go on but when you are giving out a total of 376 honours, a lot of nonentities have to make the grade, I guess. Limiting the total to (say) 20 might make the awards mean something

OUTSTANDING Australians, including former politicians Natasha Stott Despoja and Bob Debus, cricketer Max Walker, Pat Cash's coach Ian Barclay, have been honoured for their contributions to our nation.

Mountaineer Andrew Lock was also among Australians honoured. Having scaled the globe's highest peaks, Lock is used to being on top of the world - but the feeling took an entirely new dimension as he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours yesterday.

And Hunter Valley-raised world motocross champion Chad Reed had a similar sentiment as he celebrated being made a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

Some 376 Australians honoured in a list that includes a former deputy prime minister, a spymaster, a cricketing legend and an opera composer.

Former federal police commissioner Mick Keelty, ex-National Party leader John Anderson, former politicians Natasha Stott Despoja and Bob Debus, cricketer Max Walker, Pat Cash's coach Ian Barclay, Edinburgh Festival director and opera composer Jonathon Mills, and the head of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service Nick Warner were all recognised for their contributions to Australia.

Mr Lock, 49, is the only Australian to have climbed all of the world's 14 peaks higher than 8000m, and is a veteran of the monstrous mountains of Nepal - including the mighty Mt Everest. He has survived avalanches, falls down crevasses, had frostbite and been a tragic witness to the deaths of dear friends.


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