Disclosure log – media enquiries and responses

TopicDate ReceivedQuestionsDate of responseResponse
2017 Australia Day Honours List recipients 1/02/17

Why then did Dale Begg-Smith, who won gold for Australia in the moguls event at the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics, not get awarded his OAM until this year?

I wonder if you could clarify for me the process by which Olympic gold medallists are nominated for OAMs. Does the AOC nominate them? Does it happen automatically?


The Honours and Awards Branch does not disclose the particulars of the Council’s consideration of any individual nomination. However, in regard to timing, the following general information may assist you.

All awards or appointments in the Order of Australia are initiated by a nomination made by an individual or an organisation – this is the same case for an Australian Olympic Gold Medallist or any other individual nominated for an award. There is no automaticity in awards and all nominations are considered by the Council for the Order of Australia on their individual merits. For any nomination, the Council may recommend an award or appointment; may defer consideration to a later meeting, e.g. for additional research or clarification of comments received; or recommend no award.

2017 Australia Day Honours List recipients 27/01/17

Can you confirm that Prime Minister Tony Abbott nominated both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard for the award of Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2014?

Why has there been a delay of more than two years in appointing Ms Gillard to the AC given she was nominated by Mr Abbott in 2014?

Why has Mr Rudd not been appointed to the AC given he was nominated by Mr Abbott in 2014?

Moreover, given former prime ministers Paul Keating and John Howard were awarded the AC in the year after they left office - although Mr Keating declined it - why has Ms Gillard waited nearly four years while Mr Rudd still waits?

The guidelines say the nomination process "can take between 18 months and two years". What "research" would be required to confirm or verify the contributions to Australia made by former prime ministers that would take longer than this?

Has a nomination for Mr Rudd to be awarded the AC been presented from the Secretariat to the Council "for consideration"?


The process of nomination and providing referee comments is confidential and the details of nominators and referees are protected as are, of course, the contents of any correspondence.  I can confirm however, in the normal course of researching a nomination for a former Prime Minister (which may have come from any member of the public and which might not actually come in for some time after they have ceased in office), it is normal for my office to seek referee comment from the incumbent Prime Minister of the day. I note you have reported that Mr Abbott provided referee comment in this regard (which for accuracy was in May 2015).

The Council has regard to a number of timing issues in making announcements including the consideration and sequencing of other related nominations. The timeframes for considering a nomination for a former Prime Minister would generally not take longer than any other nomination. As with all nominations, comment is sought from a broad range of referees (including from all sides of politics and outside politics) who would be well placed to provide input about the performance and achievements of the nominee. There is no automaticity in awards and all nominations are considered on their individual merits.

Those being considered for an award by the Council are approached as part of a sounding process to indicate whether they would be willing at accept such an award if approved by the Governor-General or if they wish to decline. This sounding process is also confidential.

The Council does not comment on individual cases, however since the inception of the Australian honours system over 40 years ago nominations have been considered for all former Prime Ministers.

2017 Australia Day Honours List recipients 27/01/17

Could you tell me the members of the Australia Day honours committee that make recommendations for AO's etc?

Who appoints the members of this committee?

Is it a paid or voluntary position?

How long are terms on the committee and are members routinely reappointed?


1. The current membership of the Council for the Order of Australia is available on the Governor-General’s website, here: https://www.gg.gov.au/council-order-australia

2. Apart from the three ex-offcio members, all are appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, or the State or Territory Governments.

3. It is a voluntary position. Members are not paid but travel expenses to attend Council meetings are met by the Office.

4. Members are appointed for two year terms, and may be re-appointed.  Data on the terms of appointed members, including reappointments, may be found in the Australian Honours and Awards Branch – Report 2012-16, available on the Governor-General’s website, here: https://www.gg.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/honours/HonoursBranchReportFinalOct2016.pdf.

Further information about the composition and conditions of membership are contained in the Constitution of the Order of Australia, in this booklet: https://www.gg.gov.au/sites/default/files/feature/order_of_australia_booklet_11th_edition_v2-2015.pdf.

2017 Australia Day Honours List recipients27/01/17

Generally speaking, former Prime Ministers have been appointed Companions of the Order of Australia in roughly sequential order, a few years after they leave office.

This being the case, why was Julia Gillard AC appointed to that order before Kevin Rudd?

27/01/17The Australian Honours and Awards Branch does not comment on individual cases.
2017 Australia Day Honours List recipients20/01/17

1. How many former prime ministers have been given Australian honours?

2. Have prime ministers Rudd and Abbott's names gone forward for honours yet? Or have they declined any honours?


There are five former Prime Ministers who have received an award within the Order of Australia:

Sir John Gorton – AC – QB88

Gough Whitlam – AC – QB78

Malcolm Fraser – AC – QB88

John Howard – AC – QB08

Julia Gillard – AC – AD17

In regard to question two, the Australian Honours and Awards Branch does not comment on individual cases.

2017 Australia Day Honours List 19/01/17

Does the council see awarding honours proportionally to the number of women and men in society as important?

If so, what kind of change does that require?

Would the council consider changing the selection process to achieve a 50/50 result for men and women, or in line with the proportion of these genders in society?

How does the council plan to increase the number of women nominated?

Has there been a focus on improving the gender diversity in this year's awards?

Have there been more women nominated/ selected for honours this Australia Day than in the past?


-          The gender balance in Order of Australia awards is proportionate to the gender balance of the nominations that the Council receives and considers. All nominations are assessed on their individual merits.

-          The Council is acutely aware of the under representation of women in the honours system and would very much like to see more nominations for, and from, women. The Council is only able to make recommendations based on the nominations it receives.  To be able to announce awards in the Order of Australia which better reflect the Australian population, we need more nominations for women, and the Council supports any reasonable means of communicating that message.

-           Australia’s honours and awards system operates to acknowledge the contributions and service of all Australians and there is an opportunity for greater diversity and representation in future lists, but this is in the hands of Australians who decide to nominate.  We encourage people to nominate women or men who they believe enrich our community and deserve our nation’s recognition. 

-          It should be noted that nominations for women are statistically more successful than nominations for men.

-          In terms of a 50/50 gender split, the Council, importantly, considers all nominations on their individual merits, and places a high value on recognising service and achievement where it is due.

-          The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has carriage of the functions of policy and promotion of the honours and awards system. It is understood that initiatives have and are being developed to encourage nominations to achieve a more representative balance of award recipients.  For example, see here

-          On average, there have there been more women nominated/ selected for honours this Australia Day than in the past.  In the five years 2012-16, 29.1% of all nominees were women – for the Australia Day 2017 list, women made up 32.9% of all nominees. From 2012-16, 31.4% of all recipients were women – for the Australia Day 2017 list, women made up 34.7% of all recipients.