Her Maj has apparently forgiven Rolf for his portrait
Photo © 2010 AFP/AAP/Ben Stansall
Continuing a strange traditional in which the Queen celebrates her birthday by giving other people presents, four giants of modern Australian politics, three world-renowned scientists and a judge have received the highest accolades in the 2012 Queen's Birthday honours.
Former Queensland Labor premier Peter Beattie, ex-federal ministers Gareth Evans and Robert Hill and former Victorian premier Joan Kirner have been appointed Companions in the Order of Australia in the diamond jubilee year of Queen Elizabeth II.
They are joined by Professor Ian Frazer who discovered the human papilloma virus vaccine and its role in preventing cervical cancer, leading ethicist Professor Peter Singer and Professor Stephen Hopper, the director of London's Kew Gardens.
WA Chief Justice Wayne Martin also ranked in the highest honour list for his service to the judiciary and the law.
This year, 540 Australians were honoured, with more than half coming from the medical profession or community sector, including many of the heroes of Victoria's 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.
Bruce Ackerman has been appointed a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia for his work in one of the worst-hit areas of the fires, Marysville.
But the man who helped police identify 34 townspeople who had died in the flames isn't comfortable with the accolades.
"There are a lot of people who did a lot, and that should be remembered," Mr Ackerman said.
Twenty-four sportspeople and 30 artists received honours.
Among the 53 Officer in the Order of Australia recipients are wildlife guru Harry Butler, novelist Peter Carey, choreographer Graeme Murphy and artist and performer Rolf Harris.
Harris, who has lived in the UK for 60 years, says the honour is poignant given that it is the Queen's diamond jubilee year and he is a longstanding admirer of Her Majesty.
"I sat out all night in Hyde Park in the drizzling rain and cold on the route of the procession on Coronation Day (1953)," Harris told AAP.
"While I waited, I had a blanket wrapped around me and I had my piano accordion and sang Waltzing Matilda to anyone who would listen."
Motorsport champion Craig Lowndes and AFL founding father Colin Carter were among the sportspeople honoured.
States and territories are expected to hold their investitures in September or October.
"These awards recognise shining examples of men and women who display the finest community values of respect and giving, dedication and commitment," Governor-General Quentin Bryce said in a statement.
Retired defence chief Angus Houston, who chairs the Council of the Order of Australia, said the honours recipients were "role models and champions of our national identity".
"Today we especially draw attention to Australia's quiet achievers - people who serve without expectation of acknowledgement, but are the backbone of our community," Air Chief Marshal Houston said.
Deeddle, eedle, eedle um.
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