Japanese billionaire linked to Scott Morrison receives Order of Australia

A Japanese billionaire who hosted an international conference attended by Scott Morrison last week received the Order of Australia from the Morrison government in one of his final acts.

News.com.au can reveal that philanthropist Dr Handa Haruhisa celebrated his AO honor at a private investiture ceremony in Japan when Mr Morrison visited last week with his wife Jenny.

It took place on Friday July 28 in Tokyo, on the second day of the conference which was also attended by former British Prime Minister David Cameron.

But Mr Morrison, who skipped the first week of Parliament to attend the Global Thought Leaders Summit in Tokyo, declined to reveal whether he attended the investiture ceremony or was paid to take speak at the international conference.

He said the trip was “privately funded” and did not involve taxpayers’ money.

“Declarations regarding Mr. Morrison’s register of interests are made in accordance with the requirements of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives,” a spokeswoman said.

In a statement, the Governor General’s office confirmed that the AO had been awarded “under the previous government”.

“Dr Handa Haruhisa was made an Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia on 26 May 2022,” a spokesperson for the Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General said.

“Honorary appointments of this nature are made on the recommendation of the government. The former government made the recommendation to the Governor General.

Government House confirmed a ceremony took place while Mr Morrison was in Tokyo, but declined to detail the guest list.

“Dr Handa was invested by the Australian Chargé d’Affaires in Japan, Mr Peter Roberts OAM on behalf of the Governor-General, during a ceremony at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo on July 28, 2022,” said the spokesperson.

“The list of guests for the investiture ceremony has been established by the recipient and the Embassy. Government House, as is often the case with similar ceremonies, is not involved.

Mr Morrison has come under fire for skipping Parliament to attend the event and has been asked to declare any payments under the rules.

“I don’t know all the details of why he’s not here,” government affairs director Tony Burke said.

“If someone gets paid to do another job, I don’t know how they fare with the taxpayers paying them to do this one.”

A generous philanthropist, Dr Handa has donated millions to Opera Australia. He is said to put a Steinway piano in every house he owns in the world, leads a religious sect that has 50,000 members, and loves ballet to stay in shape.

Dr. Handa was awarded the prestigious AO for distinguished service to the arts, education and sport through philanthropic contributions.

“Dr Haruhisa Handa has a proven track record of selfless service and significant philanthropic contributions to the arts, culture, sport and education in Australia,” the official documents state.

“Dr Handa’s work in fostering and supporting the careers of developing Australian artists, particularly in opera, is exemplary.

“His efforts have broadened audiences for opera in Australia and increased opportunities for inclusive sports participation.

Dr. Handa is also a major sponsor of major golf tournaments, especially for the visually impaired, disabled, women and juniors.

He is both the boss of Golf Australia and its international ambassador alongside Greg Norman AO.

The Tokyo-based businessman was recently hailed as one of the world’s greatest philanthropists by former Prime Minister Tony Aboott, patron of the Handa organization.

“Dr Handa is one of the most remarkable men I have ever met, almost uniquely altruistic, whose companies give all their profits to good causes, all over the world – from hospitals in Cambodia, to British universities, to wildlife protection in Africa, to the performing arts here and to disabled golf everywhere – and I thank him for helping to make this night possible,” said Mr Abbott.

Scott Morrison has 28 days to declare to Parliament any speaker’s fees or travel or accommodation gifts.

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