"Australia Day is a complicated day and as a nation we have to deal with that and it's become a symbol of division and not unity..."
A slew of high-profile names in the music industry were awarded the Governor General's Australia Day honours yesterday, with MOFO promoter David Walsh, singer/songwriter Shane Howard and ARIA Hall Of Fame inductee Tina Arena all now recognised as Members of the Order of Australia (AM).
Walsh's honour arrives for his contribution to the arts world in founding Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), as well as the festivals MOFO and DARK MOFO. The Museum has also been credited as significantly increasing tourism to Tasmania.
Walsh's work with MOFO and DARK MOFO doesn't stop with these Australia Day honours though — they also secured him a 2015 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award on Monday, with both festivals picking up $45,000 apiece as joint winners of the Group Award.
Howard finds himself appointed AM for his services to the recording industry and to indigenous musicians as a singer/songwriter. The Goanna frontman wrote 1982 single, Solid Rock, about white settlement and told SMH, "It's a two-edged sword for a number of reasons. Australia Day is a complicated day and as a nation we have to deal with that and it's become a symbol of division and not unity …
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"It's lovely and ironic in a way that you are recognised for a song that criticises government policy."
Meanwhile, Arena's award is in recognition of her contribution to arts as well as her philanthropic pursuits, with Arena stating, "Who would have thought an Australian-born girl from immigrant working-class parents would end up here, I’m very fortunate to call Australia my home and so proud to be playing a small role in promoting our country to the world."