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Among breeding suppliers and farmers, it is a well-known dictum you keep very close watch on your genetic pool – lest you develop a weakened herd brought about by inbreeding.

Inbred pigs for example can develop grotesque malformations. Which brings me to Rupert Murdoch.

This week, a strange little coterie calling themselves the 'Australia Day Foundation UK' dusted off an old Word template and created a nice certificate for Rupert Murdoch in time for today’s Australia/Invasion Day controversies. But what is the Australia Day UK Foundation you ask?

The Australia Day Foundation UK appears to be a strange hybrid of registered charity, trust fund distributors and unique award bestowers that is also registered as a UK charity with rent free offices within Australia House - The property of the Australian taxpayer.

Established by John Howard in 2003, the award-giving section of the Australia Day Foundation UK is a murky half-entity. It seems to occasionally promote itself as part of the Australian government, with the Australian High Commissioner bestowing the annual awards at a gala dinner held at Australia House, while also claiming to be a UK based organisation dabbling in philanthropy. Tony Abbott established the Baden-Powell sounding side of the Aust Day Foundation Trust in 2013. They "promote the education, social and physical training of young Australian citizens"

Strangely, there is nothing in the trust's financials to indicate they are involved in an annual Australia Day UK Awards ceremony. Which means the Australian government/High Commission side of the foundation must help fund the slap-up, invitation only evening. And the awards.

In 2004, the inaugural Australia Day Foundation UK committee included Jane L’Estrange (the wife of John Howard’s former Cabinet Secretary) and Kate Kenward, the PR Manager for somebody called Scott Morrison, then at Tourism Australia.

The 2021 board/committee/award-gifters has now shrunk to four. The committee that bestowed this year's invented award upon Rupert Murdoch, partly paid for with your Australian tax dollars are: - well known Australian tourism-travel advocate, Richard Porter (appointed by Abbott)

Tourism-travel marketing professional, Kate Bifield (appointed last year) - David (Chris) Hickey, who sits on the UK-Australian Chamber of Commerce board with Sir Lynton Crosby-Bill Muirhead, co-owner of M&C Saatchi, the firm Scott Morrison used for Tourism Australia.

And past award recipients from the illustrious Australia Day Foundation UK award bestowers? They include such leading Australian lights as: Elizabeth Truss - Tory MP and UK Minister for Trade who created an advisory position for Tony Abbott on the UK Board of Trade,

Sir Lynton Crosby, the founder of Crosby Textor and leading conservative government strategist - Sir Michael Hintze, billionaire supporter of climate denialist organisations and former business partner of Angus Taylor MP-Boris Johnson, no bio needed. Getting the picture?

So it comes as no surprise this year's committee bestowed an "award" on Rupert Murdoch. I say the committee, because other than the listing of the four board members there is no other open documentation on the entire process of the Australia Day Foundation UK Awards. Nothing exists.

On the website, a small scant form asks who you'd like to nominate. No additional information is provided. There is no published judging criteria for these awards that are partly supported by the Australian government. No mention of a panel. No mention of judging.

There is also little to no mention on the Australia Day Foundation UK website of an award called the "Lifetime Achievement Award" The award appears to have been created specifically in 2007 as a post-humous gesture to one of the Australia Day Foundation instigators, Maurice de Rohan.

Apart from gifting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Mr de Rohan in 2007, the award appears (according to the Australia Day Foundation website) to have been largely forgotten for 14 years. Until, that is, a concerted push against Rupert Murdoch started recently in Australia.

Perhaps it's just coincidence. But no matter, the financial co-sponsors of the Australia Day Foundation UK "award" to Rupert Murdoch will no doubt see it as money well spent. And not just any sponsors, but a very specific group of sponsors.

The Australia Day "Lifetime Achievement Award" invented for Rupert Murdoch was financed by money provided by: the fossil fuel multi-national, Woodside Petroleum

and the mining multi-national, Rio Tinto , the mining multi-national, Anglo American , the energy multi-national, Worley Resources , as well as Sir Michael Hintze's own asset management fund, CQS. Previous sponsors of the unknown judging criteria Australia Day Foundation UK awards have also included BHP Billiton - which I'm sure you'll agree helps round out a cosy little group.

By now you're probably gasping in shock to discover Rupert Murdoch’s “award” was paid for by the very same fossil fuel multi-nationals his media outlets help survive. You're also probably shocked to discover the current Morrison government helped fund Murdoch's "award".

Which brings us back to inbreeding - and hybrid vigour. These awards are a selective boy's club, gifted to insiders by insiders. Nobody from outside the club is allowed in. Largely conservative in nature, these farcical awards exist to prop up existing power structures.

Murdoch's fossil fuel sponsored Australia Day "award" is a fabricated piece of performance frippery. It's that long forgotten party hat left under the stairs given to that extra birthday party guest at the last minute It was dug out purely to help Rupert Murdoch feel supported.

The entire pantomime that masquerades as the Australia Day Foundation UK awards is a farce. The awards mean nothing. They are representative of nobody. It is shallow pool of conservative inbreeding. It insults ordinary Australians. The sooner it is abandoned, the better.

Just to be clear: Rupert Murdoch's side-show award was not given by some odd "UK based" organisation.

It was bestowed by a group founded and funded by the Australian government, with board members appointed in conjunction with the Aust government at a function hosted by the Australian High Commission.

By Ronni Salt

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