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Peta Credlin lands Queen’s birthday honour for her work with Tony Abbott

·5-min read
<span>Photograph: Tracey Nearmy/Getty</span>
Photograph: Tracey Nearmy/Getty

Peta Credlin, Tony Abbott’s former chief of staff and current Sky News host, has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s birthday honours.

The controversial broadcaster, columnist and veteran Liberal staffer was appointed to the second-highest rank under the honours system for her contribution to Australian politics.

AOs are appointed for distinguished service of a high degree “to Australia or to humanity at large”.

This year, 947 people in total were honoured in the general division of the Order of Australia and 44% of recipients were women, the highest in history.

Other people honoured in Monday’s awards included actor Chris Hemsworth, former rugby league player and federal senator Glenn Lazarus, and dozens of volunteer firefighters who battled bushfires during the Black Summer of 2020.

Erin Phillips, the two-time WNBA and AFLW champion, was honoured for her contribution and excellence in both sports, as was Neale Daniher, the former AFL player and coach who became a campaigner for motor neurone disease research.

Related: Peta Credlin forced to apologise to Kevin Rudd over false data harvesting claims

The governor general, David Hurley, said this year it “is important that the Order of Australia represents the diversity and strength of Australia”.

“I am prioritising increasing awareness of and engagement with the Order of Australia amongst groups that have been historically underrepresented,” he said.

Credlin was made an AO for her “distinguished service to parliament and politics, to policy development, and to the executive function of government.”

Her honour is the latest in a line of appointments made by the honours board to controversial recipients, including Prof Adrian Cheok, a robot sex expert and former far-right political candidate; Bettina Arndt, a sex therapist who interviewed a convicted paedophile and described the behaviour of female students as “sexually provocative”; and the tennis player Margaret Court, who has previously said transgender children were the work of “the devil”.

In recent years, formal reviews and complaints have been lodged against the honours awarded to Arndt, Cheok and journalist Mike Carlton.

In 2020, Credlin apologised on air after incorrectly blaming Melbourne’s South Sudanese community for spreading Covid-19, based on a false report.

Credlin said that “new migrants urgently need to learn English” and falsely claimed that lockdown restrictions had been breached at an end of Ramadan feast. However, the vast majority of Melbourne’s South Sudanese community are Christian, not Muslim.

Earlier this year, she was also forced to apologise on air to former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd, as part of a confidential defamation settlement, after she falsely said he was running a “data harvesting exercise”.

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Sky News praised her appointment on Monday. Credlin said of her award: “These are meritorious appointments across the board but if you’re not nominated you can’t receive an Australian honours. Look at all that, 44% [women] and not a quota in sight.

“It is a personal award, but I don’t take it as a personal honour today. It’s a reflection of some pretty amazing staff I worked with all the way through my time in Canberra.”

Prior to her move into journalism, Credlin served as the chief of staff for Abbott between 2009 and 2015, while he was prime minister and opposition leader, and as the deputy chief of staff for Malcolm Turnbull when he was opposition leader.

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Most recently, Credlin has been a sharp critic of Victoria’s lockdowns and the performance of premier Daniel Andrews, through her eponymous show Credlin on Sky News, and as a regular columnist for the News Ltd newspapers.

Related: Credlin comes out swinging as Victoria plunged into lockdown again | Weekly Beast

This week, Credlin on Sky News said Victoria increasingly “resembles a failed state” and the latest lockdown was “based on a lie” after two cases were found to be false positives.

The Anglican archbishop of Brisbane, Phillip Aspinall, was also appointed to the highest level of the honours system – a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) – for “eminent service to the Anglican Church of Australia, to the development of ecumenical relationships and professional standards, and through commitment to social justice and welfare.”

In 2016, Aspinall was mentioned in the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, when an alleged victim claimed he told them to turn away from his “sinful path” of pursuing legal action against the church.

Other people appointed to an AC were Frances Adamson, a diplomat who is the incoming governor of South Australia; Barbara Baker, a former lawyer who is the incoming governor of Tasmania; Prof Kurt Lambeck, a professor of geophysics at the Australian National University; and David McAllister, the former artistic director of the Australian Ballet.

Fifty people were appointed an Officer of the Order (AO), 252 were appointed Member of the Order (AM), and 640 were awarded Medal of the Order (OAM).

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