Gina Rinehart nabs Australia Day Honour for 'distinguished service' to the mining sector

Gina Rinehart nabs Australia Day Honour for her ‘distinguished service’ to the mining sector

Gina Rinehart

This year’s Australia Day Honours Event wasn’t without its fair share of controversy.

First, there was the awkward/amazing encounter between 2021 Australian of the Year, Grace Tame and Scott Morrison with Tame standing frostily beside the country’s leader during a scheduled publicity shoot.

Then there was the less entertaining aspect of some of those who scored the gongs.

Australia’s richest person, mining magnate Gina Rinehart picked up an award and was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) “for distinguished service to the mining sector, to the community through philanthropic initiatives, and to sport as a patron.”

The accolade is sure to rile many, after Rinehart came under fire in October last year for declaring climate change education programs to be “propaganda”, encouraging high school students “do their own independent research” on “which comes first – global warming, or an increase in carbon?”.

Her speech was slammed by scientists, with Will Steffen who co-authored or reviewed five Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments and reports and served as a councillor on the Climate Council since 2013, saying Rinehart’s comments constituted “clear misinformation, clear non-factual information about climate change and I don’t think that’s appropriate in the school system.”

Another contentious Australia Day gong was handed to media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s former Australian chief. John Hartigan was appointed an officer in the Order of Australia for “distinguished service to the media industry, to Indigenous welfare, and to sport”.

Hartigan spent four decades at News Limited, including for NewsCorp UK and NewsCorp US and worked his way up to CEO in 2000 and chair in 2005. He held both roles till 2011 when he resigned, but remained a staunch apologist for the Murdoch empire, once instructing former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to “pull his head in” after Rudd branded Murdoch outlets a “cancer”.

Since his time with News Ltd, Hartigan has held the role as an Australian Paralympic Committee director since 2014 and a trustee of the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust since 2011.

This isn’t the first year however, that the selection of honourees has sparked fierce public debate and anger.

Last year tennis legend and Pentecostal minister Margaret Court, a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage was recognised as a companion of the Order of Australia.

The year prior, sex therapist Bettina Arndt was acknowledged for her service “to gender equity through advocacy for men”.

In 2018, Arndt was criticised by sex abuse survivors for conducting a 17-minute interview with Grace Tame’s convicted abuser, paedophile Nicolaas Bester, in which she described the behaviour of female students as “sexually provocative”.

In better news, the honours, which include the awards in the Order of Australia, were handed out to over 700 recipients with almost half (47 percent) being women, the highest ever percentage.

Pop star Delta Goodrem, actor Deborra-Lee Furness and television cook Maggie Beer were among dozens of famous faces celebrated.

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