David Walsh on Australia Day honour: 'An officer, yes, but not a gentleman'

Mona founder says he has been made an officer in the Order of Australia despite his ‘regular vociferous opposition’ to conservative governments’ policies

Museum of Old and New Art founder David Walsh has said he is “an officer, yes, but not a gentleman” after accepting an Australia Day honour.

In a post to the museum’s blog, Walsh expanded on his decision to accept the offer to be made an officer in the Order of Australia (AO).

“I suspect it will surprise you that I accepted. It certainly surprised me,” he wrote.

He noted the award came despite his “regular vociferous opposition” to many of the conservative local and federal governments’ policies, and that previous recipients of the officer award – the second-highest division – included Rolf Harris, Marcus Einfeld and Alan Bond.

“All, unsurprisingly, have since had their award revoked. Those bastards inoculate me against the insidious infection of self-satisfaction.”

The perks, he wrote, included being able to sign his name David Walsh, AO.

“If my life were a movie I’d like to think that it would be rated Adults Only,” he wrote.

It wasn’t a patch on British comedian Graeme Garden’s scheme to become an earl and receive an OBE, and thus become an Earlobe, he wrote – but that ceased to be a possibility when Australia abandoned the English honours system.

“I don’t know who nominated me, but based on the citation, he or she knows quite a bit about my activities, and approves,” Walsh wrote.

“Although the citation doesn’t include twice daily feeding, I suspect Christ the cat.”

As well as being an influential figure in the arts world, Walsh is a significant supporter of charities and sporting and education organisations.

The museum, which Walsh set up in 2007 with his fortune acquired through gambling, has been credited with significantly boosting tourism to Tasmania.


Elle Hunt

The GuardianTramp

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