Ex-premier’s big call over Dan’s top gong

Ex-Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has been given the most prestigious accolade in the King’s Birthday honours. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Valeriu Campan

A former Victorian Liberal premier has blasted the decision to bestow Daniel Andrews with the top King’s Birthday honour, calling on Governor-General David Hurley to revoke the award.

An outraged Jeff Kennett, who served two stints as premier between 1982 and 1989, and again from 1991 to 1999, said Mr Andrews’ appointment as a Companion of the Order of Australia “devalued” the achievement “beyond recognition”.

Former premier Jeff Kennett said the decision to bestow Daniel Andrews with the top King’s Birthday honour ‘devalued’ the award. Picture NCA NewsWire/ Aaron Francis

Mr Kennett said Mr Andrews should return his Order of Australia Award, and if not, he encouraged Victorians to write to Mr Hurley and demand him to “revoke the award”.

“To my knowledge not only has Mr Andrews not done any eminent community service, but he has also abjectly failed any objective test on the matters for which he received the recognition,” Mr Kennett wrote in the Herald Sun on Monday.

“Victorian citizens are going to pay heavily, for decades, for the failures of Mr Andrews.”

Mr Andrews was one of three Labor leaders who received the top acknowledgment, which was also given to former West Australian premier Mark McGowan and the late party luminary and former opposition leader Simon Crean.

Earlier on Monday, former 3AW broadcaster and commentator Neil Mitchell said he wasn’t “happy” Mr Andrews had been given the honour and it had been “fast-tracked”.

Former premier Dan Andrews was revered and reviled for his handling of the pandemic. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Valeriu Campan

“Daniel was a divisive leader,” Mitchell told Sunrise.

“He’s getting this award in part for his work in public health. He’s destroyed the public health system. He had old ladies chased out of parks through the Covid days.

“(There are) a lot of questions around it. It’s fast- tracked.”

Mitchell added that Mr Andrew’s accolade was a slight on the people adversely affected by Mr Andrews’ “ring of steel”.

“I can’t help but think of these people impacted by those lockdowns, particularly small business. How would they be feeling right now?”


While Mr Andrews was criticised for his harsh lockdown restrictions, he remains the longest serving Labor premier in Victoria’s history.

Stepping down from the job in September 2023, Mr Andrews said “it is time”.

“Recently, in talking to my kids and Cath (his wife), thoughts of what life will be like after this job has started to creep in,” he said.

“I have always known that the moment that happens it is time to go and to give this privilege, this amazing responsibility to someone else.”

At the time Prime Minister Anthony Albanese paid tribute to his longtime friend, calling him a “man of great conviction, enormous compassion and a fierce determination to make a difference”.

“Daniel Andrews has never been anyone who has shirked his responsibilities,” he said.

“He stood up each and every day during the pandemic, stood up for doing what he believed was absolutely right, to keep Victorian safe.

“Not making easy decisions, making difficult decisions.”

Post-politics, Mr Andrews has moved to the private sector, and is working with mining billionaire Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest through the his consultancy Forty Eight and Partners.


Despite being born in NSW’s coastal city of Newcastle, Mark McGowan became Western Australia’s most popular premier during his leadership during the Covid pandemic.

His approval ratings in 2020 peaked at a record breaking 91 per cent, with the WA Labor Party winning a landslide 53 out of 59 seats in the 2021 state election.

Despite surging popularity within his state, Mr McGowan’s strict pandemic border policies and hesitancy to re-open the state was criticised.

Then deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce likened WA to North Korea, and said the state was at risk of becoming a “hermit kingdom”.

Mr McGowan returned fire and accused Mr Joyce of throwing “tacky, cheap attacks on WA”.

Notably, the former premier was also embroiled in a $30bn defamation suit from Queensland mining giant Clive Palmer, who Mr McGowan lashed as an “enemy of the state”.

Ex WA premier Mark McGowan’s leadership during the pandemic saw his approval ratings peak at 91 per cent. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Philip Gostelow
Ex WA premier Mark McGowan’s leadership during the pandemic saw his approval ratings peak at 91 per cent. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Philip Gostelow

Stepping down as premier in May 2023, Mr McGowan said he had been considering the decision for “quite a while”.

“I’m tired, extremely tired. In fact, I’m exhausted,” he said.

“The role of political leadership does not stop, it is relentless, with huge responsibility but it is all consuming, each and every day. And combined with the COVID-19 years, it has taken it out of me.”

Then deputy premier Robert Cook succeeded Mr McGowan as WA’s current premier.

Like Mr Andrews, Mr McGowan has since entered the private sector, including a part-time role with Bondi Partners – former federal treasurer Joe Hockey’s consultancy firm promoting trade and business between Australia and US.


Gender equality and social justice advocate Sam Mostyn has also been honoured with a companion of the Order of Australia ahead of her being sworn in as Australia’s 28th governor-general on July 1.

The businesswoman and lawyer is the second woman to hold the position, and will take over from David Hurley.

Ms Mostyn was appointed as an Officer of the order of Australia for her distinguished service to business, the community and women in 2001, and has an impressive CV of being the current chair of the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce.

Sam Mostyn was given the top King’s Birthday honour just weeks before she is sworn in as Australia’s 28th Governor-General. Picture: Gaye Gerard / NCA NewsWire

She was also the first woman in Australia to be appointed as the AFL commissioner, and has occupied senior roles at Reconciliation Australia, Beyond Blue, the Australia Council for the Art and the National Mental Health Commission.

Announcing Ms Mostyn’s appointment, Mr Albanese said she was an “exceptional leader” and represented the “best of modern Australia”.

“She has lived her life in the service of a powerful Australian principle. When more people have the opportunity to fulfil their potential, our nation is a better place,” said Mr Albanese.

“This understanding has driven Sam’s tireless advocacy for gender equality, particularly in the world of business, for women’s safety and reconciliation.”

She will succeed current governor-general David Hurley, who has held the position since 2019.


A household name, Hamish Blake has been honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia for his services to the arts and the community.

On of Australia’s most renowned comedians, Blake is most famously known as one-half of comedy duo Hamish & Andy, with his work alongside best friend Andy Lee minting them both longhead careers spanning radio, podcasting, and television.

The 42-year-old famously dropped out of a science/commerce double degree at the University of Melbourne after meeting Lee in order to pursue a career in comedy, gaining industry attention with their show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2003.

The pair dominated airwaves with their long-running drivetime radio show, also known as Hamish & Andy, with the pair still hosting a weekly podcast under the same name.

Hamish and Andy
Hamish Blake alongside his close friend and collaborator, Andy Lee. Picture: Instagram

Speaking about their partnership to the Sydney Morning Herald in 2023, Blake said he and Lee share a telepathic bond.

“You realise that like 90 per cent of what happens between me and Andy is telepathy, which means you have like 90 per cent more bandwidth to do other things,” he said.

“And then when you aren’t with someone that you have telepathy with, it just feels suddenly like a lot of work just to get to a basic level.”

Blake’s solo work includes hosting Lego Masters Australia on the Nine Network, and was also recently announced as the upcoming host of season two of Alone Australia, and it a two-time Gold Logie Award winner.

His King’s Birthday nod also acknowledges his contribution to the community. Blake is an ambassador for food charity Foodbank, and Tourism Australia.

Blake is married to celebrated author and founder of Aussie skincare brand Go-To, Zoe Foster Blake. The pair live in Sydney and have two children, Sonny and Rudy.


The former international cricketer may be known as one of Australia’s greatest fast bowlers, but its his contributions off the pitch have helped families supporting loved ones through breast cancer.

Beginning his cricketing career in the regional NSW town of Narromine, Glenn McGrath’s 14-year test cricket career has seen him play 124 matches, bowling a total of 29,248 balls.

Since retiring in 2007, McGrath was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2011.

However, it was tragedy that spurred him into philanthropy through breast cancer charity, the McGrath Foundation.

The organisation was co-founded by McGrath and his late wife Jane, who died in 2008 following a second battle with cancer.

Renowned fast bowler Glenn McGrath has been appointed as an Officer of the order of Australia for his sporting achievements and his work through the McGrath Foundation. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Gaye Gerard

The couple began the charity in 2005, with the aim to fund McGrath Breast Care Nurses to support patients and families while undergoing treatment.

To date, the charity has supported 137,000 families across Australia, through 223 nurses.

Mr McGrath remains as the president of the foundation,

Honouring Ms McGrath’s legacy, the Sydney Cricket Ground is transformed into a sea of pink for the third day of the annual New Year Test, which also raises funds for the charity.

In 2023, the foundation was nominated by the federal government to recruit 100 nurses to help provide care and support to cancer patients, regardless of disease, as part of a $166m support package.

At the time Mr McGrath said it was a huge step for cancer care.

“When we started the Foundation, we hoped we could make a positive difference to just one family,” he said.

“My family understands first-hand the incredible difference this care makes, so knowing Australians will soon have access to this care no matter what type of cancer they have, just blows me away.”


For more than a decade between 2009 to 2020, Jimmy Rees was perhaps better known by his on-screen name Jimmy Giggle, with the Melbourne man fronting ABC’s flagship kids program Giggles and Hoot.

This achievement, plus his continued career as a comedian has earned him an Order of Australia medal for his service to the entertainment industry.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald in 2019, the 36-year-old acknowledged the enduring impact of his character.

“This has been a really hard decision (leaving the show). But to the public, I’m sure I’ll be Jimmy Giggle for a long while,” he said.

“I’ve got 16 and 17-year-olds coming up to me these days going, ‘I watched you’.”

For more than a decade, Jimmy Rees was better known as Jimmy Giggle thanks to the ABC Kid’s program Giggle and Hoot. Picture: Supplied.
For more than a decade, Jimmy Rees was better known as Jimmy Giggle thanks to the ABC Kid’s program Giggle and Hoot. Picture: Supplied.

Since leaving children’s entertainment, Rees has found viral success through his comedy, fronting skits on Instagram, and entertaining a whole new generation of Australians during lockdown.

As of February this year, Rees has been touring his ‘Let’s Get Regional‘ comedy show, bringing his comedy to town across Australia.


With a media career spanning nearly five decades, News Corp Australia’s national executive editor Peter Blunden’s start in journalism began with a cadetship at the Sunday Telegraph.

Since then, he’s broken stories and shaped the pages of the Adelaide Advertiser, The Australian and the Herald Sun, covering world-changing events like the September 11 terrorist attacks, the death of Princess Diana, the Port Arthur massacre, countless wars and changes in leadership.

He was also a founding editor of The Weekend Australian magazine in 1988, with the publication still in print today.

“I’m deeply honoured to be recognised for something I’ve loved doing all my life,” he said.

“Every day has been different, some very challenging. But most of all it’s about people. Knowing what the audience wants, and working with great people to try to produce something special every day.”

Outside of the newsroom, Mr Blunden also holds charity board roles with the Royal Children’s Hospital, the Good Friday Appeal and the Alannah and Madeline Foundation.