Australia's country music star Lee Kernaghan was named Australian of the Year for 2008 here on the eve of the Australian Day.
The Victorian-born singer and songwriter was anointed successor to climate change crusader Tim Flannery at a ceremony outside Parliament House in Canberra tonight. He was chosen from more than3,000 people nominated by the public.
Naming him Australian of the Year, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said: "Lee Kernaghan's music resonates with every Australian by connecting us all to the spirit of the bush, but more importantly he gives hope and pride to those on the land when they need inspiration most."
Over the past 10 years, the country star has led "Pass the Hat Around" and "Spirit of the Bush" tours, raising more than US$1 million for communities in need, particularly drought-ravaged families.
Australian of the Year Lee Kernaghan.(file photo: Xinhua)
Kernaghan, 43, admitted he was surprised at the honor but said he would use his new role to help farmers battling the drought.
"In all my dreams, I could never have imagined that I'd receive an award like this--it's been a huge surprise and, without doubt, it's the greatest honor I have ever been given in my entire life," he said
Motorcycle champion Casey Stoner was named Young Australian of the Year, finance entrepreneur David Bussau took the seniors award and Australia's local hero is choirmaster Jonathon Welch, for his work with the Choir Of Hard Knocks.
(Xinhua News Agency January 28, 2008)