Six of the seven people announced as new national treasures pictured after the presentation. From left: Clive Palmer, Karl Kruszelnicki, Olivia Newton-John, Jack Brabham, Dr Ian Frazer and Harry Butler. Photo: Ben Rushton
A former refugee, a scientist, a mining magnate and two of the nation's best-loved entertainers have been named as Australia's new National Living Treasures.
Singer Olivia Newton-John and pop princess Kylie Minogue were given the title, as were conservationist Harry Butler and creator of the cervical vaccine Ian Fraser.
Joining them are mining magnate Clive Palmer, science guru Karl Kruszelnicki and world champion Formula One motor racing driver Sir Jack Brabham.
Accepting the title at an event in Sydney yesterday, an emotional Dr Kruszelnicki reflected on growing up in a refugee camp in Australia after his family fled Sweden with just ''cardboard suitcases''.
''It's amazing,'' he said. ''You go from being on a ship and growing up in a refugee camp and then the next thing you know … you are a national living treasure.''
Professor Fraser, creator of the cervical vaccine, moved to Australia from Scotland 30 years ago.
''I think one of the reasons I'm delighted … is because it speaks for the importance of science in Australian society,'' he said.
The controversial choice of the day, billionaire Mr Palmer, brushed off criticisms of his nomination, saying he asked people to respect the ''will of all Australians'' who voted for him.
''What we need in this country is not harsh words but more love and more reconciliation and more forgiveness,'' Mr Palmer said.
Meanwhile, naturalist and conservationist Dr Butler said it
was a shame thousands of his colleagues were not joining him on the list.
Newton-John, who is also a campaigner for cancer research, said she was thrilled by the honour.
The seven new additions join the list of 100 Australians who have been chosen as National Living Treasures since 1997. Voted by more than 10,000 people nationwide, the new titles were prompted by the recent death of the National Living Treasurer artist Margaret Olley.
The award, which is run by National Trust of Australia (NSW) in tandem with Woman's Day magazine, invited readers to choose ''exceptional Australians''.
ABC TV reported last night that the National Trust's federal body had objected to Mr Palmer receiving the recognition.
However, trust president Ian Carroll said the titles recognised that the country's culture was more than just our buildings and natural heritage. AAP