PRIMARY industry has gone largely unrecognised, yet again, in the Australia Day Honours list.
Apparently contributions to agriculture no longer cut the mustard when recipients are chosen for our twice-a-year handing out of gongs.
Sure, agricultural hasn’t been totally ignored with Mick Keogh, now arguably the deepest thinker in the farm sector and executive director of the Australian Farm Institute, picking up a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
John Cripps from Perth, breeder of the apple now marketed as the Pink Lady, was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), while the likeable cotton industry pioneer and National Party stalwart, Ralph Schulze, was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).
There were other recipients with rural connections but far too few from an industry bristling with high achievers making a tremendous contribution to the economy, employment, exports and rural communities other battling hardship.
Sixteen people from primary industry were recommended for Australia Day Honours this year (including just one woman) with eight approved for recognition.
Only eight gongs to people from agriculture? What a bloody joke! And only one female recipient.
Yet women in agriculture are making a magnificent contribution to the rural sector at every level – from being brilliant farm managers, brilliant marketers, brilliant researchers, brilliant company chiefs.
Still, agriculture did better than mining – just one solitary gong for an industry that has been helping fuel Australia’s economic growth and financial wellbeing.
How different things are for those in the arts (23 gongs), the media (14), medicine (48), sport (32) and education (38).
So why are people from these sectors more deserving of gongs?
It’s time people in agriculture again received proper recognition on Australian honours lists.
If that means a few less awards for television personalities, sportspeople and university professors, so be it.