While I think that the choices for Australian of the Year and Young Australian of the Year are at least tolerable, I do have some reservations, fellow travellers.

My first one is general in nature, and is simply about the whole concept of the award. This idea that we celebrate one individual, as opposed to a collective, smacks more than a little of conservatism. It's also undeniably nationalistic. I mean, if we do have to laud an individual couldn't we nominate someone who does the whole Earth proud, and not just the nation? (Although I know that if we did that, Tim Flannery would probably win every year. So it could get monotonous. Still, what's a little repetition if you want to save the planet, hmm?)

Then there is the fact that there are categories for both young and senior Australians. This is shamelessly ageist. Disturbingly, no one seems to care. Clearly, we have a lot more consciousness raising to do in this regard.

But to more specific complaints: While it's good to know that Simon McKeon has been attitudinally reconstructed in recent years it should be noted that he was a major player in the "big end of town", being at one time an executive with Macquarie Bank.

I do apologize for using a speciesist analogy here, but we should remember that a "leopard can't change its spots". And even though he seems to have renounced his previous rapacious pro-capitalist philosophy he could easily have a relapse at any minute. Which is why I think we should keep a keen eye on Mr McKeon from now on. His new title gives him substantially more credibility than he had before, so if he starts prattling on about the benefits of free markets and the like it could have devastating consequences for our society.

I'm also a little upset about the choice of Jessica Watson as Young Australian of the Year. While it is good to see a female receiving the award (although she is still white, like so many of the other recipients!) I don't share most people's enthusiasm for her "great achievement".

This idea that she is a hero for sailing around the world strikes me as highly masculinist, and confirms that whole "man conquering nature" paradigm that has caused so much environmental devastation in the past. While Ms Watson might not actually have been participating in her own oppression, she came dangerously close. And her actions were certainly Gaia-phobic.

Still, these choices were not nearly as bad as some that have been made in years past. So I suppose we should be a little thankful for that.