National Living Treasure (Australia)

National Living Treasure is a status created and occasionally updated by the National Trust of Australia's New South Wales branch, awarded to up to 100 living people. Recipients were selected by popular vote for having made outstanding contributions to Australian society in any field of human endeavour.


In 1997 the National Trust of Australia (NSW) called for nominations from the public for 100 Australian Living Treasures, and each nomination was counted as one vote. The nominees had to be living and had to have made a substantial and enduring contribution. The choice of those who were named as National Living Treasures was made by more than 10,000 Australians voting. Their votes determined who was chosen. The first list of 100 Living Treasures was published in 1997. Phillip Adams, himself named as a National Treasure, gave his own opinion in an article on ANZAC Day in 2015 that when the list was first published in 1997, most were amused to find they were nominated; he suggested an alternative list to "celebrate those who make us happy".[1]

In 2004 the list was refreshed with 15 new names, following the deaths of some people on the list and the exclusion of former Justice Marcus Einfeld who was imprisoned subsequent to his retirement for perjury and perverting the course of justice relative to a speeding ticket,[2][3] following an identical process to that used in 1997 – a public nomination and vote.

On 23 January 2012, the National Trust of Australia (NSW) joined with Woman's Day magazine to launch a nationwide search for seven new National Living Treasures. They were announced, amid controversy, on 4 March 2012, when the National Trust refused to endorse the NSW branch's listing of the mining magnate Clive Palmer as one of the members.[4][5] Graeme Blackman, the chairman of the Australian Council of National Trusts, said that "I am telling you, as the chairman, it is not auspiced by the National Trust nationally."[5] However, the next day it was reported that "trust president Ian Carroll said the titles recognised that the country's culture was more than just our buildings and natural heritage."[6] It was later revealed that the vote for Palmer had been manipulated, with a number of internal emails having been sent to his company's staff, their family and friends, urging that they vote for "Professor Clive Palmer".[7]

On 30 July 2014, the board of the National Trust of Australia (NSW) voted to remove Rolf Harris from the list after his conviction on 12 charges of indecent assault between 1969 and 1986 and to also withdraw the award.[8] Harris had been among the original 100 Australians selected for the honour in 1997.

Current list

The 79 still-living people on the 2014 list which originally contained 93 living people:[8]

  1. Phillip Adams, humanist, social commentator
  2. Dame Marie Bashir, Governor of New South Wales, professor
  3. John Bell, actor
  4. Geoffrey Blainey, professor, historian
  5. Raelene Boyle, Olympic runner, sports commentator
  6. Frank Brennan, social commentator
  7. Bob Brown, politician, Australian Greens activist
  8. Julian Burnside, barrister, refugee rights advocate, author
  9. Don Burrows, jazz musician
  10. Tim Costello, social activist, commentator
  11. Bill Crews, social activist
  12. Russell Crowe, actor
  13. Judy Davis, actress
  14. Sir William Deane, High Court judge and Governor-General of Australia
  15. Ernie Dingo, Indigenous Australian television personality
  16. Mick Dodson, Indigenous Australian leader
  17. Pat Dodson, Indigenous Australian activist/leader, politician
  18. Peter Doherty, immunologist, professor, Nobel Prize winner
  19. Ted Egan, musician, activist, administrator
  20. Herb Elliott, Olympic runner
  21. John Farnham, entertainer
  22. Dawn Fraser, Olympic swimmer, politician
  23. Ian Frazer, scientist
  24. Cathy Freeman, Indigenous Australian sportsperson, Olympic runner
  25. Peter Garrett, politician, singer and social activist
  26. Jennie George, Australian Council of Trade Unions leader, politician
  27. Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Indigenous Australian tennis player
  28. Shane Gould, Olympic swimmer
  29. Germaine Greer, writer, social activist
  30. Catherine Hamlin, physician
  31. John Hatton, independent NSW politician
  32. Peter Hollingworth, Archbishop of Brisbane, Governor-General
  33. Gabi Hollows, social activist, philanthropist
  34. Janet Holmes à Court, business leader, philanthropist
  35. John Howard, politician, Prime Minister
  36. Barry Humphries, entertainer
  37. Barry Jones, politician, author, polymath
  38. Caroline Jones, television personality, social commentator
  39. Paul Keating, Prime Minister
  40. Thomas Keneally, writer
  41. Cheryl Kernot, politician
  42. Nicole Kidman, actress
  43. Michael Kirby, lawyer, judge, social commentator
  44. Karl Kruszelnicki, scientist, author, media personality
  45. John Landy, Olympic athlete, Governor of Victoria
  46. Rod Laver, tennis player
  47. Michael Leunig, cartoonist, social commentator
  48. David Malouf, novelist
  49. Garry McDonald, actor
  50. Walter Mikac, survivors' advocate
  51. Kylie Minogue, singer, actress
  52. Jack Mundey, trade union leader
  53. Graeme Murphy, dancer, choreographer
  54. John Newcombe, tennis player, television commentator
  55. Olivia Newton-John, singer, actress
  56. Greg Norman, golfer, businessman
  57. Sir Gustav Nossal, scientist, administrator
  58. Lowitja O'Donoghue, Indigenous Australian leader
  59. Pat O'Shane, magistrate, Indigenous Australian leader[9]
  60. Clive Palmer, mining magnate,[10] placed on list after his staff were instructed to vote for him[7]
  61. Mary Paton, founder of the Nursing Mothers' Association
  62. Noel Pearson, Indigenous Australian leader
  63. Kieren Perkins, Olympic swimmer, television commentator
  64. Pat Rafter, tennis player
  65. Henry Reynolds, historian
  66. Ken Rosewall, tennis player
  67. Dick Smith, businessman, social commentator
  68. Fiona Stanley, physician
  69. Richard Tognetti, violinist and conductor
  70. Anthony Warlow, singer
  71. Gai Waterhouse, racehorse trainer
  72. Steve Waugh, cricketer
  73. Robyn Williams, science broadcaster
  74. David Williamson, playwright
  75. Tim Winton, novelist
  76. Fiona Wood, physician
  77. Roger Woodward, pianist
  78. John Yu, medical doctor
  79. Galarrwuy Yunupingu, Indigenous Australian leader


Removed while living

  • Western Australia's Department of Culture and the Arts has a list of State Living Treasures awarded in 1998, 2004, and 2015 to "honour influential elders of the artistic community", "acknowledge the ability of artists to engage, move, involve and entertain audiences. They honour the skill, imagination and originality of the artist" and "honour those artists whose lifetime work has enhanced the artistic and cultural life of Western Australia, providing inspiration for other artists and enriching the community."[12]


  1. "National Living Treasures? I've got another list" by Phillip Adams, The Australian, 25 April 2015 (ANZAC Day)
  2. "15 Australians honoured as 'national living treasures'". Australia: ABC News. 14 March 2004. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
  3. Einfeld v R [2010] NSWCCA 87 (5 May 2010), Court of Criminal Appeal (NSW, Australia).
  4. "National Trust announces seven new National Living Treasures" (Press release). National Trust of Australia (NSW). 4 March 2012. Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
  5. "National living treasure uproar" by Christine Sams and Cosima Marriner, The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 March 2012
  6. Farrow, Lauren (5 March 2012). "Seven added to national living treasure list". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  7. Elks, Sarah (19 September 2016). "Sacked workers told 'vote for Clive Palmer' as national treasure". The Australian. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  8. National Living Treasures – Current List, Deceased, Formerly Listed, National Trust of Australia (NSW), 22 August 2014
  9. Clennell, Andrew; Wood, Alicia (24 January 2013). "O'Shane to retire from life on bench". The Australian. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  10. "BRW Rich 200 List 2016". 27 May 2016.
  11. Daniele, Linda (1 November 2008). "Marcus Einfeld: From living treasure to liar". The Australian. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
  12. "Living Treasures". Government of Western Australia. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
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