Australia Day Honours 2021: Lorrae Desmond, Val Lehman but Kerry O’Brien declines.
"It was a big surprise!" says former Country Practice star Lorrae Desmond.
Veteran stars, presenters and media execs have been recognised in the annual Australia Day Honours.
Former A Country Practice star Lorrae Desmond and former Prisoner star Val Lehman both become a Member of the Order of Australia along with Graham Ross from Better Homes & Gardens.
But veteran broadcaster Kerry O’Brien who was given an Officer of the Order of Australia declined after word that tennis champion Margaret Court was honoured.
“I believe the decision to award Australia’s highest honour to Margaret Court may serve to erode the hard-fought gains made over decades in reducing the impact of discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community,” he wrote in a letter to Governor-General, David Hurley.
The Age reports he was declining his award “in support of Dr Clara Tuck Meng Soo, who is handing back the Order of Australia she received for her work with the LGBTQ+ community and HIV sufferers, in protest.
Also recognised are former segment presenter for The Morning Show, Glenn Wheeler and former SBS presenter Craig Foster.
Lorrae Desmond MBE OAM told TV Tonight, “I don’t know what I did to deserve it. But I am very honoured. It was a big surprise!”
Desmond, now 91, boasts a vast showbiz career including The Lorrae Desmond Show, Homicide, Number 96, Arcade, Home & Away, stage musicals and cabaret, entertaining troops in Vietnam from 1967-1971, plus the Middle East, Malaysia, Singapore, Kenya and Somalia.
“I have many favourite memories: writing Lorrae Desmond Shows on sick bags while flying from London to Australia. Singing for an audience, it’s the best feeling. Entertaining our boys in Vietnam, seeing the smile return to their eyes.”
On A Country Practice she played Shirley Dean Gilroy from 1981 – 1992.
“The magic started with the good writers, and good storylines. There were a lot of women in the production team. The cast clicked, we had a great time together,” she recalls.
While she won a Gold Logie in 1962, Desmond insists the two awards can’t be compared.
“It’s an honour to have an award from your Government and it’s an achievement to get one from your peers,” she said.
Now residing in Queensland, she plans to celebrate her achievement today.
“I’m grateful to still be alive. I’ll be partying with friends and family on the Gold Coast. While they enjoy champagne I’ll be having Sambuca!”
Here are TV and related names.
Member AM in the General Division of the Order of Australia
Ms Lorrae Desmond MBE, former star of A Country Practice.
For significant service to the performing arts as an actor, entertainer and singer.
Ms Valerie Kathleen Lehman, former Prisoner star.
For significant service to the performing arts, and to wildlife conservation.
Mr Graham Alastair Ross, from Better Homes & Gardens.
For significant service to the broadcast media, particularly to horticulture, and to the community.
Craig Foster, former presenter of The World Game, SBS.
For significant service to multiculturalism, to human rights and refugee support organisations, and to football.
Mr Michael Bruce Hawkins a Director, Screen Australia, since 2016.
For significant service to the film and television industry, and to screen content.
The late Mrs Maureen Anne Kerridge ((formerly Plavsic), who was Chief Executive Officer, Managing Director and Executive Director of Seven from 2000-2003.
For significant service to the television industry, to the arts, and to charitable organisations.
Ms Winnie Martha Pelz, former Presenter for This Day Tonight in 1975.
For significant service to arts administration, and to the community.
Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia
Mr Kerry Michael O’Brien, former presenter Four Corners, 7:30 Report.
For distinguished service to the broadcast media, and to journalism, as a current affairs television presenter, interviewer and reporter.
Ms Samantha Joy Mostyn, Chair of Ausfilm, since 2019.
For distinguished service to business and sustainability, and to the community, through seminal contributions to a range of organisations, and to women.
Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division
Mr Glenn Anthony Wheeler, former presenter The Morning Show, Seven Network.
For service to the broadcast media, and to the community.
Mrs Shirley McLaren, cast member of Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds
For service to veterans and their families, and to the community.
Ms Vicki Maree Tiegs, former National Promotions and Publicity Director, WIN Corp. 1996-2002.
For service to the community of the Illawarra.
Ms Katie Lisa Woolf, former presenter, Network Ten, 2013-2014, and 2010-2012.
For service to the broadcast media in the Northern Territory.