Well done Lee. Woo hoo. Great choice Australia.
The boy from the bush is back in town, with country music star Lee Kernaghan named Australian of the Year for 2008.
A proud Kernaghan, 43, admitted he was surprised at the honour but said he would use his new role to help farmers battling the drought.
The Victorian-born singer and songwriter was anointed successor to climate change crusader Tim Flannery at a ceremony outside Parliament House in Canberra on Friday night.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."He has rolled up his sleeves to make a real difference for those in need in rural Australia.
Kernaghan, the son of country artist Ray Kernaghan, scored his first number one hit with 1995's Boys from the Bush and has gone on to sell over a million albums and pick up numerous Golden Guitar awards at Tamworth.But it is his personal commitment to rural Australia that put him in front of other candidates for this year's award.
Over the past 10 years, the country star has led "Pass the Hat Around" and "Spirit of the Bush" tours, raising more than a million dollars for communities in need, particularly drought-ravaged families.
Kernaghan said being named Australian of the Year was the proudest moment of his life."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 honour I have ever been given in my entire life."I don't think it's really totally sunk in yet, but it's a humbling experience because I know there is at least a list a mile long of more worthy recipients for the award than myself."Kernaghan said he now feels a responsibility to use his new role to highlight the plight of farming families struggling against the drought."What I'd like to do is look at ways that, individually and as a nation, we can assist those people - that we can support them and help them get back on their feet again," he said."One way we can do that is to buy Australian made and Australian grown - we're securing Australian jobs and we're keeping Australia strong."
Kernaghan was chosen from more than 3,000 people nominated by the public.He was named ahead of seven other finalists - film-maker Scott Hicks, paediatrician Jonathan Carapetis, social justice advocate Lin Hatfield Dodds, dancer Stephen Page, indigenous arts leader Mark Bin Bakar, golfer Stuart Appleby and sailor Ken Gourlay.