some gongs more equal

The question: Is the honours system in need of an major overhaul?

The facts: This Australia Day two people in the entire western region – an area housing more than 16 per cent of Melbourne’s population – made the general honours list.

In Toorak, one of Melbourne’s most privileged suburbs, with a population of little more than 13,000, there were six recipients of Order of Australia gongs – three within just a couple of tree-lined blocks of each other.

A study of awards by postcode during the past seven years shows just how unequal the distribution is.

Since 2006 there have been Australia Day and Queen’s Birthday OA accolades bestowed on 20 people in the Hobsons Bay area, comprising Altona, Altona Meadows, Laverton, Altona North, Newport and Williamstown postcodes.

In the east there have been 62 people so honoured in the suburbs of Balwyn, Camberwell, Canterbury, Kew and Kew East – an area of marginally less population.

The tally for these cherished discs of distinction awarded to the residents in the single postcode of Toorak during the past seven years is 44.

Based on these figures the chances of bumping into and OAM on the streets of Toorak are one in 300. One in every 2000 people in Toorak got a gong on Australia Day this year. In the western region the ratio was one to 350,000

What conclusion should we draw from this? That the people of Melbourne’s western region are less honourable?

Or that the people on the other side of the Yarra have more time and – in the case of political parties and big corporations – the paid staff to fill out nomination forms.

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