Airport boss recognised in Honours List after tough year for aviation

Ian Bushnell 28 January 2021
Stephen Byron

Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The face of aviation in the ACT, Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron, heads an impressive lift of high-flyers and community stalwarts recognised in this year’s Australia Day Honours List.

Mr Byron has been made a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia for significant service to aviation infrastructure and tourism, sectors that have had a horror year.

The honour comes at a time when the pandemic has shut down international tourism and a year in which it closed state borders and crippled domestic aviation, reducing Canberra Airport to a fraction of its capacity and at one point threatening its closure.

Mr Byron has been a constant campaigner to keep aviation open, as well as introducing measures designed to make the airport and air travel safe, such as temperature screening technology in its departure terminal.

He told Region Media that he was surprised and touched to be recognised.

”It’s recognition of all the people I’ve worked with, my family, mother Ginette and father Terry, also my siblings who have been a great support,” he said.

”It’s recognition of all the great people who put their heart into the airport and Canberra.”

Mr Byron said the airport was something Canberra could be proud of.

”Our airport is always the entry point or front door to our city and I’m happy we can be proud of it and pleased that Canberrans are,” he said.

While tourism has been hit hard by the pandemic, he believes Canberra will fare better this year as more Australians explore their own country, including its national capital.

”I think Australians can’t travel overseas, they’re going to love travelling in our country, and I think you’re going to find a lot of Australians turn their minds to our national capital,” he said.

”Our city and the great public servants in it have been some of the reasons we’ve done as well as we have [with COVID-19].”

His sister Georgina, CEO of the philanthropic Snow Foundation, was also honoured for her service to the community and social change initiatives.

Mr Byron said he was immensely proud of her.

”It’s made my award more touching in that she’s been recognised in a very different way and I’m enormously proud of her capability and reputation in Australia in leading the philanthropic sector,” he said.

Region Media Group Editor Genevieve Jacobs was also made a Member in the Order of Australia, for her service to the broadcast media and the community.

A former longstanding ABC radio presenter, Ms Jacobs serves on a number of boards and committees in the national capital, chairs the ACT Minister’s Creative Council, co-chairs the Inaugural ACT Reconciliation Day Council, and is a director of the ACT Cultural Facilities Corporation and the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.

She is heavily involved in Canberra’s music scene as a director of the National Folk Festival and as a member of the Canberra International Music Festival board.

Ms Jacobs says community has been at the heart of everything she does, a product of her background growing up in country Australia and its strong ethic of service.


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Other winners include ANU Professor of Epidemiology Emily Banks for service to medical research and education, basketball legend Cal Bruton, glass artist Peter Crisp, and Abdul Rahman Hashim for service to the multicultural community.

Cal Bruton

Cal Bruton was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia. Photo: File.

Governor-General David Hurley stressed the importance of all Australians nominating individuals from their own community for recognition, saying he had worked to make the honours list more diverse and representative of Australian society.

“I am determined to make sure that the Order of Australia reflects the diversity and breadth of our community. More needs to be done to achieve gender parity and increase diversity in other areas. Over the last 12 months, I’ve initiated various initiatives in this regard to encourage people and organisations to nominate individuals they think are worthy.

“The Order of Australia belongs to all Australians – my strong message to the community is that if you know someone that is worthy, take the time to nominate them. People cannot be recognised if they’re not nominated and that has to be driven from the community.”

He said that over the past year, there had been outstanding examples of achievement and service to the community as the nation confronted fires and the COVID-19 pandemic.

”I encourage Australians to look to the Order of Australia as a means of acknowledging the important work of their peers during these extraordinary times,” he said.

ACT recipients named in the Australia Day Honours:

Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM)

  • Professor Emily BANKS
    For significant service to medical research and education.
  • Dr Paul CRAFT
    For significant service to medicine, to oncology, and to professional organisations.
  • Dr Gregory John FEALY
    For significant service to tertiary education, and to Australia-Indonesia relations.
  • Dr Jillian Anne GUTHRIE
    For significant service to Indigenous health, and to justice reinvestment policy.
  • Mrs Genevieve Mary JACOBS
    For significant service to the broadcast media, and to the community.
  • Colonel William James KELLY (Retd)

For significant service to pharmacy through a range of roles.

  • Mrs Sotiria LIANGIS OAM

For significant service to the community through philanthropic support initiatives

  • Mr Allan Ernest WILLIAMS
    For significant service to business tourism, and to the community.
  • Dr Paul William ROCHE
  • For significant service to epidemiology, and to the international community of Nepal.

Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO)

  • Mr Malcolm John HAZELL CVO AM
    For distinguished service to the Crown, and through a range of advisory and consultancy roles with government and business.

Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM)

  • Mrs Coralie Pearl AMOS
  • For service to the community through a range of roles.
  • Mrs Elizabeth AVERY
    For service to swimming.
  • Ms Tanya BARDEN
    For service to business, and to the community.
  • Mr Douglas James BROWN
    For service to veterans and their families.
  • Mr Calvin Thomas BRUTON
    For service to basketball as a player and coach.
  • Mr Peter John CRISP
    For service to the creative arts, particularly as a glass sculptor.
  • Ms Brenda Mary DE BES
    For service to youth through Scouts.
  • Mr Christopher DIENER
    For service to people with a disability, and to youth through Scouts.
  • Mr John Robert EVANS
    For service to bushwalking, and to the community.
  • Emeritus Professor John Philips HARDY
    For service to tertiary education, particularly to the humanities.
  • Mr Abdul Rahman HASHIM
    For service to the multicultural community of the Australian Capital Territory.
  • Mrs Wanda HORKY
    For service to the Polish community in Australia.
  • Mrs Suzanne Margaret McINNES
    For service to the community of Queanbeyan.
  • The late Mrs Ismini (Pitsa) PARRETT
    For service to community health through exercise therapy and aquatic rehabilitation
  • Mr Duncan Grant TAYLOR RFD ED
    For service to youth.
  • Mr George Roger WAINWRIGHT
    For service to veterans.

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