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Geoffrey Rush, Australian of the year – my arse!

He's just a bloody actor!

Just what has actor Geoffrey Rush ever done to deserve such an honour?

The 60-year old Academy Award winner was named Australian of the Year for 2012 a short while ago by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, ostensibly for his “contribution to the arts”.

But, apart from being a highly paid and self-serving movie star, Rush’s only other claims to some sort of noble status are being an ambassador for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and UNICEF Australia, as well as patron of the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Big f …ing deal.

WTF has this bloke ever done for his fellow Australians? Oh, he opposed a shopping centre development in the Melbourne suburb of Camberwell because, you know, shopping developments should be built in the poorer suburbs, not in wealthy Camberwell where Rush lives. Dick. Head.

Gillard can’t get anything right, but that’s no surprise. In my opinion the Oz of the year should go to someone who has served others, selflessly. If it could go to politicians I’d give it to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh for her outstanding leadership during last year’s Queensland floods & cyclone events. But apparently politicians are not eligible.

How about the parents of Daniel Morcombe, who have campaigned tirelessly for better child protection since their son was abducted and murdered about a decade ago? They are very deserving people.

Who do you think should have won it? I dunno, but giving it to Rush is almost as bad as the year they gave it to country music singer Lee Kernaghan. What a joke that was.



  1. T.O.I. says:

    I agree with you Ray except for one point. Gillard does not choose Australian of the Year. It is decided by an independent panel. She just announces it.
    Personally I don’t think this award should ever been given to a politician, a sportsperson or a film star or musician. It should be given to someone who works behind the scenes to help others. The award should give them ecognition they don’t have, not be used to increase publicity for some celebrity.

  2. GD says:

    I don’t think this award should ever been given to a politician, a sportsperson or a film star or musician

    I agree, TOI, and Ray, I agree with your post as well. Who is on this panel? Cate Blanchett?

  3. Richard Ryan says:

    AH Gee, No award again for Andrew Bolt this year.

  4. Ray Dixon says:

    So the PM has no input? I think Howard might have, when he kept giving it to cricket captains.

  5. Iain Hall says:

    Good post Ray and one I totally agree with for once!

  6. T.O.I. says:

    The Australian of the Year is decided by the Board of the Australia Day Council:


    Apart from Adam Gilchrist, I have never heard of any of ’em.

  7. Simon says:

    Cadel Evans did a pretty good job of riding his bike in France. Then again do we want more cyclists on the roads?

  8. Ray Dixon says:

    That’s where I disagree with TOI, Simon. Sometime sportspeople do deserve such awards, when they’ve done something that positively uplifts and benefits the nation. And there can be no greater example of that than Cadel Evans. He’d be a much worthier recipient than Rush.

  9. T.O.I. says:

    Sport has its own rewards, inc. financial rewards, fame and recognition. Winning a big event and making sports fans feel happy makes you a great Australian sportsman, not a great Australian. I would only think it appropriate for a sportsperson to win this award if they were very involved in charity work or public service.

  10. JustAsAussie says:

    Geoffrey Rush – OK. I’m officially confused. WHY????

  11. Ray Dixon says:

    Cadel’s achievement in winning Le Tour is about the equivalent of Don Bradman’s feats in the depressed 1930s – uplifting a nation and raising its status. There are also economic, health and social benefits caused by his win. He probably deserves it, TOI.

  12. T.O.I. says:

    Cadel is a terrific young chap who fully deserves his success, Ray. I just don’t think he (or any other sportsman) deserves to be Australian of the Year for winning a major event. Re: the comparison with Bradman, I don’t think it’s on a par with that. Plus I don’t think we’re in quite as big a funk as we were in the 1930s.

  13. Ray Dixon says:

    Hmm, cricket is in our blood and we’ve always been great achievers in that sport and Bradman was the best in an era when we needed it. But I think Cadel winning Le Tour was actually a greater achievement, given the odds and the difficulty of any outsider winning the world’s premier cycling event. I wasn’t suggesting he raised us out of any economic depression but there is no doubt that the flow-on effects have been extremely beneficial for Australia and, more importantly, Australians in general. You should see all the Cadel-inspired cyclists we have up here at the moment. And it’s getting through to some people who really do need to improve their fitness. I think you’re being inflexible on the “no sports people” stance.

  14. T.O.I. says:

    I am not being inflexible, as I have pointed out earlier, if they have a record of other contributions to the community then by all means they should be eligible. I think Steve Waugh won it because he was very active in building orphanages in India. But in my opinion, just winning something and maybe inspiring a few others to take up the sport isn’t grounds in itself.

  15. GD says:

    This type of award is always going to be highly subjective, both by the panel and with everyone’s opinions on their decision.

    TOI laid down reasonable guidelines, Ray added a nuance that I agree should be applicable. Cadel Evans certainly stirred the nation that day when he won the Tour de France. Sportsmen can galvanise a nation, but really in Cadel’s case it had no lasting influence of value beyond the announcement. He didn’t change lives, save for perhaps inspiring some to take up bike riding, or reaching for a goal.

    If that was the criteria, the list of nominees would be endless. Put Jessica Watson up there, she certainly achieved her goal.

    Cathy Freeman, on the other hand, was an excellent choice, and most deserving of the 2008 award. Who can forget that moment when she sat down on the track after winning gold in the 400m. She is guaranteed a place in Australian history.

    Unfortunately the same can’t said for the 2007 winner, Tim Flannery. He is guaranteed a place in history but it won’t be flattering.

    Ray mentioned Lee Kernaghan. That must have been a quiet year. A professional country rock singer who visited the outback to perform paid shows. Paid either by the government or the punters. It brings a tear to my eye, his dedication.

    As for Geoffrey Rush, what were they thinking? Weren’t there any selfless charity workers who work tirelessly and endlessly helping people? Or was it just that there were no country singers, sportspeople or indigenous apologists believable enough to be given the award?

  16. Richard Ryan says:

    David Hicks would have been my pick, for the Aussie of the year——anyone who “pisses off” the Yanks is OK by me. Shalom, Richard Ryan.

  17. T.O.I. says:

    I didn’t agree with Flannery winning it.
    Lee Kernaghan, from memory, organised a lot of ‘save the bush’ or ‘feed the farmers’ concerts (can’t remember what they were called, what they involved or how much was raised) so maybe he was deserving, or maybe not, I don’t know.
    Rush is an actor of world renown who lobbies on issues in his local suburb. Definitely not worthy.

  18. Ray Dixon says:

    Jessica Watson? Her so-called solo voyage around (the bottom half of) the world was a mere piece of self promotion pushed by her parents. How you can put her & Cadel in the same category is beyond me, GD.

    As for Kernaghan, his ‘Pass the hat’ concerts were ostensibly to raise money for drought-stricken farmers but how much of it did they actually see? How many farmers are going around saying “Lee saved me”? None. It was all a PR stunt. Kernaghan was arguably the least worthy recipient in living memory.

  19. Iain Hall says:

    David Hicks deserves nothing but our contempt

  20. Ray Dixon says:

    Oh Geezus, Rush is not off to a great start as Oz of the year:


    Australian of the Year Geoffrey Rush says he will use the award to “put an arts perspective” on important social issues such as climate change, asylum seekers, and gay marriage.
    …”As an example, in terms of immigration policy and in terms of the dilemmas with boat people etc, from my perspective, I put a call out to the writers of Australia … “I want to see the stories of why are these people wanting to come here at great peril to their lives, with such extraordinary bravery, and we’re not finding that human scale in the story and I think it’d be good if we did that because I think people would discuss the arguments with less overly emotive responses to [the] primal knee-jerk reactions.

    “I’m sure an arts perspective on other current issues, whether it’s climate change or gay marriage, there’s a role for the arts to play in that.”

    Um, Geoffrey, I’m not knocking the idea but it’s already been done. Several times over.

  21. Ray Dixon says:

    I would like to nominate “Len Saxby”.

  22. T.O.I. says:

    I think they’ve got to be a real person, Ray.
    According to the Internets, Lee Kernahan has raised “more than a million dollars” over ten years for struggling farmers. Is that all?? That would scarcely buy a couple of tractors and a few bags of chaff. Plus he’s a mediocre musician. Mind you, the year he won (2008) he didn’t have much competition:

    He was named ahead of seven other finalists – filmmaker Scott Hicks, paediatrician Jonathan Carapetis, social justice advocate Lin Hatfield Dodds, dancer Stephen Page, indigenous arts leader Mark Bin Bakar, golfer Stuart Appleby and sailor Ken Gourlay.

  23. Ray Dixon says:

    Len doesn’t have much competition either – he only has to beat David Davidson.

  24. T.O.I. says:

    Either would get my vote for ‘services to comedy and entertainment’.

  25. Ray Dixon says:

    It would put that island on the map. They might even name the airport after him – “Saxby Fields”.

  26. BW says:

    The mention of Daniel Morcombes Parent’s would have been a very deserving choice…..instead we get a talentless wanker in Geoffrey Rush…..the credibility of this award is certainly lost…a disgrace!!

  27. Patricia Wilcock says:

    This is terrible Geoffrey Rush WHY ? who decided this ? They must be crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Father Chris Riley should have been selected.I agree no politician ,actor and sports person should ever be nominated !!!!!!!

  28. Ray Dixon says:

    I think Father Riley might have blown his chances by going into bat – commercially – for the clubs over poker machines, Patricia. Although, he was on the right side there. Maybe Andrew Wilkie? …. Maybe not.

  29. Michael says:

    I totally agree. Actors can already win far too many awards just for the one role. And they can earn millions of dollars for just one role and the mainstream media fawns over them daily. Straight off the top of my head, I would have nominated Father Bob as Victoria’s candidate.

  30. Iain Hall says:

    I think that we should not forget that Actors are by profession liars but I agree that father Bob would have been a better choice, but he is a catholic so that puts the lefties off

  31. Ray Dixon says:

    Father Bob would have been an excellent choice. A great man.

  32. Michael says:

    But Rush beats Patrick McGorry hands down. McGorry wants to force-feed anti-psychotic drugs to adolescents as a preventative measure and there is no reliable way of predicting psychosis: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/us-expert-slams-patrick-mcgorrys-psychosis-model/story-fn59niix-1226074544901 Many average, confused, moody and rebellious teens would suffer greatly as a result.

  33. Michael says:

    But Iain, you know that Father Bob was recently ousted from his job as a parish priest by the Catholic brass. Just the nomination would’ve pissed them off severely.

  34. Angel says:

    And I nearly got all the way through in agreement with you Ray, until you mentioned Anna Bligh.

  35. Wow, what an accepting and broad-binded bunch of people you are!

    Geoffrey Rush is an example of a creative Australia who has worked hard, has been determined, has been careful to side-step the typical bad-boy actor image (eg. Russel Crowe), and has been an articulate advocate for the arts – in short, he’s a great example to the broader community. He is well-deserving of being the Australian of the Year. In these challenging times, it’s good to have a creative view-point to help raise us up above our usual way of looking at things.

    The other point: if my memory serves me correctly, the last time an artist was an Australian of the Year it was Arthur Boyd. So is an artist for Australian of the Year once in every twelve years too much? Come on people, get some perspective.

  36. Ray Dixon says:

    He just comes across an up himself toff, Nigel. An Aussie who speaks with an almost English accent because, you know, he taught the King how to speak … in a movie!

    I’m not against ‘artists’ receiving the honour, I just don’t regard movie stars as artists.

  37. Come on, Ray, we all know that actors who work in international film-making can end up with a strange mix of accents. And anyone who works in film (I don’t, but I have friends who do) are just as creative as any other artist.

    The general thrust of the comment-string to this post just reveals that a large part of Australia simply doesn’t value creative practice and expression. In the end, it’s no different to science or sport or politics or environmentalism – some people do it very, very, very well, and we should honour their work. Even if it’s just telling stories.

  38. Ray Dixon says:

    Honour him by all means. Give him an Order of Australia for services to the Arts or even an Academy award (oh, he already got one of those) but don’t make someone who has really done nothing for other Australians (except for himself) “Australian of the year”.

  39. GD says:

    he’s a great example to the broader community

    Yeah, I can just see the protesters in Canberra being inspired by him. Or the ex-employees at the Girgarre Heinz factory…yep, he’s definitely a great example to the broader community

  40. Ray Dixon says:

    Hes a great example to the broader community … of wealthy Camberwell. “No high-rise developments in Camberwell – put them in Dandenong, where the poor people live”, says Geoffrey.

  41. GD says:

    Yeah, that’s a perfect example…what a guy! 😦

  42. T.O.I. says:

    Those Pirates in the Caribbean movies are some of the worst films ever made. He should be disqualified for life for participating in their creation.

  43. […] must admit to being disappointed by the naming of Geoffry Rush as Australian of the Year for 2012.  I wasn’t disappointed so much in the people who nominated Rush and the judges, […]

  44. And there ends the rational debate on this matter.

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