General David Morrison has been forced to defend his Australian of the Year honour on Monday night's Q&A in the face of increasingly pointed challenges to the former army chief's selection.
David Morrison defends Australian of the Year title
The former Australian Army solider was dealt some tricky questions on Monday night's Q&A. Vision: ABC TV.
Not one but two pre-selected questions from ABC's Q&A audience directly probed whether Morrison was a deserving choice as a white, privileged male advocating for diversity.
The first question was straight to the point: "What does it say about our country when we can listen to white men such as Australian of the Year David Morrison champion diversity, but we can't receive the message of Adam Goodes with respect?"
Then came the suggestion that Morrison was awarded the country's top honour for doing what should be expected of any decent man, while women performing extraordinary public services go unrecognised.
Both host Tony Jones and fellow panellist journalist Stan Grant were quick to defend Morrison against what they deemed unfair criticism.
But instead of deflecting the barbed questions, Morrison unreservedly agreed with the sentiments behind both questions.
"I agree with you 100 per cent," Morrison replied.
"I've become something of a notorious figure for being a white Anglo-Saxon heterosexual male from a privileged background who talks about these things now," he said.
"I'm not the only voice in Australia with the same sort of gender or ethnic make-up. I have just been paid attention to," he said.
"I would say, though, that I do think I see these issues clearly. I do think I've had the chance ... to actually articulate a particular opportunity for Australia to harvest if we can."
General Morrison attempted to share the mantle, suggesting fellow finalists including the speech writer of his viral address, transgender military officer Cate McGregor, or former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick would have served Australia "exceptionally well" as Australian of the Year.
He also relinquished credit for one of the most quoted phrases in his celebrated speech.
"I pinched the best line ... 'the standard you walk past is the standard you accept,'" General Morrison said.
"[It] doesn't belong to me or Cate McGregor, it belongs to Governor of NSW, David [Hurley]."
Q&A's Australian of the Year special followed a week of heavy public criticism concerning General Morrison's selection, including from fellow finalist Group Captain McGregor, the Australian army's highest ranking transgender military officer, who posted an unconditional apology on Twitter shortly after her comment were published.