Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Queen's birthday honours: why do we give people gongs for doing their job?

The Queen's Birthday Honours list as usual recognises the work of many hundreds of committed 'ordinary' Australians who volunteer their time and other resources for the good of the nation.  That's a wonderful thing.

Time for a rethink?

Rather more controversially, it recognises the contribution to our nation's reputation of great artists, scientists and academics.  That's probably fine when it's a Rolf Harris, rather less so when its controversial 'bio-ethicist' Peter Singer, or Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University Ian Young who keeps trying to sack large numbers of staff and drastically reshape its music department in rather less than ethical ways (viz an attempt to sack the lot of them)!

But why oh why do we still give out gongs to endless numbers of ex-politicians (Joan Kirner, Peter Beattie, Robert Hill, Gareth Evans end more), public servants and military types.

I'm not talking here about medals for those on the frontline in our military.  I'm talking about the bosses who are very well remunerated indeed, and in no more danger than the rest of us.  People like the the chief of the navy, the deputy chief of the army and the chief of Defence's capability development group all of whom were recognised this year.  People like the extremely well remunerated heads of public service departments who more or less automatically pick up gongs.

Once upon a time  - when public servants and politicians were relatively poorly paid and honours went some way to making up for this - there might have been a case.

But the time has come to end this, and restrict recognition to those who don't get it in other ways.

Nothing new about my complaint though....


Anonymous said...

Thoroughly agree. Australian awards were not intended as an alternative to the gold watch on retirement. Kudos to Keating in firmly refusing an award for simply being P.M.

Steve said...

As soon as they give it to someone like Peter Singer who advocates the moral permissibility of both abortion and infaticide, the awards pretty much lose all

Anonymous said...

Yes why Peter Singer? As with Hitler and Wagner he has a Jewish lineage yet he repudiates it becoming the abuser!