The truth is 2020 has been a pretty average year.
So we’d like to recognise those who’ve done amazing work and made Australia a better place.
First place goes to the people of Victoria. Stoic, resilient and courageous in the face of economic and viral hardship, they went into lockdown on 8 July 2020 and have only now just emerged. As of 22 November 2020, Victoria went 23 straight days without recording a new daily case.
To measure how hard Victorians have worked, we can compare 2 different responses. On 30 July, daily new cases in the UK totalled 846; in Victoria, 723 new cases were reported. On 20 November, 20,252 new cases were reported in the UK; the total number of new daily cases in Victoria was zero.
We recognise the work of the Auditor-General, Grant Hehir and the Australian National Audit Office. Mr Hehir is an independent officer of the Parliament with responsibility under the Auditor-General Act 1997 for auditing Commonwealth entities and reporting to the Australian Parliament.
Appointed in 2015, Mr Hehir seemingly operates according to the traditional view that public monies should be properly and lawfully spent – and that governments should be held accountable. For this, he and the agency he leads deserve high praise.
In November 2020, Jacqueline Maley and Kate McClymont have just won a Walkley Award for their investigation into claims that a former High Court judge, Dyson Heydon, sexually harassed female associates. ‘Dirty Dyson’: A Harasser on the High Court was published in June 2020 to reveal a culture that was deeply wrong.
In this story they applied sunlight as an antiseptic to claims that a powerful man had harassed young women and in so doing had abused trust, position and notions of propriety.
Ms Maley and Ms McClymont are tenacious and courageous investigators who have done outstanding work. Respect.
We never thought we would read the phrase ‘Australian war crimes’.
Revelations that members of the Special Air Service Regiment had executed Afghan civilians is a claim that should never have been heard. We know this because a few courageous people spoke up about what they knew and observed. And Justice Paul Brereton led an investigation that dug its way to reveal a shocking truth.
Others also deserve to be recognised for what they have done for the country and the people, in general. In 2020, the very first Barnaby Joyce Award, which is named after the ex-deputy prime minister, is awarded to two members of the Australian Parliament who have contributed to Australian society in equal measure.
They are the Hon Barnaby Joyce (pictured here) and the Member for Hunter, the Hon Mr Joel Fitzgibbon.
One man represents the National Party in Parliament; the other, the Australian Labor Party. Both are ex-ministers.
Neither will be receiving a statue, plaque or certificate.