That aside, does anyone else get the impression that we don't seem to be very active when it comes to nominating our deserving troops for these Honours? The Military list does look rather short, once the Cols and above are weeded out.
[h=1]Queen appoints Howard to Order of Merit[/h]Former prime minister John Howard has been appointed a member of the Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth.
The Order of Merit is a special mark of honour for "exceptional distinction in the arts, learning, sciences and other areas such as public service".
Unlike the New Year's Honours List announced on Saturday, which is chosen by government officials, appointments to the Order of Merit are given at the discretion of the monarch.
Mr Howard joins nine other Australians to receive the honour, including Sidney Nolan and Dame Joan Sutherland.
There are only 24 living individuals from Commonwealth countries in the order at any time, as well as additional foreign recipients admitted on an honorary basis.
Former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien and former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher are also on the list.
The only other living Australian on the list is Lord May of Oxford, an Australian scientist who has advised the UK Government.
"It's obviously something that gives me a great deal of pleasure and surprise," Mr Howard said.
"I also see it as a compliment to Australia and a reminder of the great respect the Queen has for our country and the continued interest that she displays in the welfare of Australia and Australians."
The Queen also appointed British artist David Hockney to the order.
Hockney, 74, has been an internationally-renowned painter since he burst on to the scene in the early 1960s.
Often credited as an important figure in international Pop Art - a label he refutes - Hockney is known for his landscapes, portraits and representations of private spaces, such as living rooms, showers and swimming pools. ABC/wires