Pandemic hardline premier honours 'independent of govt'

Anthony Albanese has brushed off suggestions of controversy over an accolade for a former Labor premier known for tough COVID-19 policies.

The King's Birthday Honours list for 2024 includes household names from the pandemic era, entertainers, athletes and medical researchers as well as community champions.

Among them are former premiers Daniel Andrews and Mark McGowan, who have been made Companions (AC) of the Order of Australia for their service to parliament and public health.

Both rose to national prominence over their hardline policies during the pandemic, with Mr Andrews overseeing one of the world's longest lockdowns in Victoria while Mr McGowan kept the WA border shut for almost 700 days.

File picture of  a Daniel Andrews effigy at a protest in 2021
The inclusion of pandemic-era hardline premiers in the King's Birthday Honours list has irked some.

Asked by a journalist on Monday whether he could understand why some people were angry over Mr Andrews getting the award, the prime minister said he did but affirmed the independence of the process.

"Politicians are never on 100 per cent support, nor are former politicians. I respect everyone's right to have a view," Mr Albanese said.

"My view is that these things are done independently of government. That's as it should be. And I congratulate every single person who has been honoured in the King's Birthday Honours this weekend."

Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie said she found it bizarre politicians who were paid "absurd" salaries are given awards.

"There's a lot of people out there that do great things, but don't have a lot of money, and they're doing great things around their own," she told Nine's Today show on Monday.

"I always find it bizarre that we get paid an absurd amount of money as politicians. And you want to give us awards?

"We get paid to do the job for you. We shouldn't be getting awards on top of it. Full stop."

Incoming governor general Sam Mostyn
Sam Mostyn has been recognised for services to social justice and gender equity.

Incoming governor-general Samantha Mostyn, former federal Labor leader the late Simon Crean, epidemiologist Karen Canfell and composer Jonathan Mills rounded out the AC appointments.

Sporting stars to be recognised include cricket icon and McGrath Foundation president Glenn McGrath, who was appointed an Officer (AO) for his role as a coach and services to breast cancer support.

Retired AFL star Bachar Houli was recognised with a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia for his services to the Islamic community and multiculturalism.

Entertainers on the small screen and the airwaves were among those honoured, with funnyman Hamish Blake recognised for his two decades of service as an entertainer.

Comedian Jimmy Rees, also known as Jimmy Giggle from the children's show Giggle and Hoot, and sport broadcaster Sandy Roberts were also honoured for their work.

Former Australian cricketer Glenn McGrath
Glenn McGrath was honoured for his foundation's support for women with breast cancer.

The 2024 list commemorates an equal number of men and women in the general division of the Order of Australia, with recipients ranging from 29 to 98 years of age.

More than 45 per cent of awards went to ordinary Australians for their tireless community service. Some have citations for their years of service to a local government area, sports or community or youth organisation, or voluntary work.

Governor-General David Hurley congratulated all recipients for the difference they have made.

"Some names are well known, but the vast majority are not - they are people who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a difference in our community," he said.

As all states and territories except Queensland and WA observe the King's Birthday public holiday on Monday, republicans used the opportunity to call for clarity from the government on plans for constitutional reform.

"The Labor Party has endorsed the establishment of an Australian Constitutional Commission, but no details have been provided about what it would do, who would serve on it, and when it might start work, if ever," Real Republic Australia chair David Muir said in a statement.

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