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Vic Premier brushes off CHO Honours ‘snub’

Victoria’s high profile chief health officer won’t be troubled by missing out on this year’s Honours list, after his NSW, Queensland and federal counterparts were all awarded gongs, the premier says.

Three health officials who oversaw Australia’s COVID-19 response were among those named in this year’s Queen’s Honours List announced late on Sunday.

Former chief medical officer Brendan Murphy, former Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young and NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant all featured prominently for their work during the pandemic.

But Professor Brett Sutton wasn’t on the list, despite helping lead Melbourne through the longest and ultimately successful coronavirus lockdown in the nation as the potentially fatal disease took its toll.

“Professor Sutton has done an amazing job and knowing him very well, I don’t think that he’d be troubled by that,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday.

“He’s far more focused, as we all are, on getting the job done, not necessarily on gongs.”

Mr Andrews noted the honours were “awarded by others”.

“I don’t determine who gets honoured.”

Dr Murphy was among eight Australians to receive the prestigious Companion (AC) of the Order of Australia, having been CMO between 2016 and 2020.

He was one of the nation’s most prominent public faces of the initial pandemic response.

Dr Young, also appointed an AC, was Queensland’s top health official for some 16 years and well into the pandemic before moving on to become state governor.

Dr Chant, who has been NSW’s CHO since 2008, was appointed an Officer (AO) of the Order.

Prof Sutton, who said on Twitter on Monday he was taking a month’s leave, took up his role in 2019, before the outbreak began early in 2020.

“Hope you dodge that damn virus,” he tweeted.

The 992-person list recognised people from a wide range of fields including sport, with the late Shane Warne posthumously appointed an AO.

Warne’s nod comes not just for his elite cricketing career in which he took 708 Test wickets, but also for his service to the community through charitable initiatives.

“Recipients share some common traits – including selflessness, excellence and a commitment to service,” Governor-General David Hurley said.

“Collectively the recipients, whose achievements span community service, science and research, industry, sport, the arts and more, represent the very best of Australia.”

Other AC appointments include plant biologist and ecologist Patricia Selkirk for her services to conservation in researching Antarctic and sub-Antarctic ecosystems, chief defence scientist Tanya Monro and former deputy prime minister John Anderson.

In the military division, Vice Admiral Lance Johnston was appointed AC as a highly-skilled strategic military planner and a champion of the Defence Capability System.

Military personnel were also honoured for their efforts in evacuating over 4100 people from Kabul as it fell back under Taliban control.

West Australian Carmen Lawrence, who was the first woman to become a state premier, is among the political honourees.

She has been appointed an AO and is joined on the list by former attorney-general Robert McClelland (AO), former speaker of the House of Representatives Stephen Martin (AO) and former National Party federal president Larry Anthony (AO).

Retired tennis star Ash Barty was appointed an AO after wrapping up her career as a three-time grand slam singles champion, having claimed this year’s Australian Open crown.

Other sportspeople honoured include golfer Adam Scott, cricketer Doug Walters, skier Jakara Anthony and Australia women’s cricket captain Meg Lanning.

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