Ablett medal outcry

Tuesday, April 22

A DECISION to award disgraced former Geelong star Gary Ablett a Centenary Medal has outraged the father of Alisha Horan, the teenager who died of a drug overdose in the company of the club legend in February 2000.

Alan Horan said he couldn't understand how medal organisers could possibly honour Ablett with such an award given his chequered post-football history.

``He's just gotten away with taking the life of my daughter. For someone to award him a medal for services . . . I just don't believe it,'' he told Channel Seven News.

``I think they must be crazy. They've done no research on what he's been up to.''

Ablett will receive the Prime Minister's Centenary Medal for services to society.

Ms Horan died in February 2000 after taking a cocktail of drugs supplied by the former Geelong champion at Melbourne's exclusive Park Hyatt Hotel.

Ablett was later fined $1500 after being convicted of four counts of possessing and using heroin and ecstasy.

Victims of crime spokesman Noel McNamara said it was an ``absolute disgrace'' that Ablett should receive the award.

According to the Centenary Medal criteria Ablett's chequered past was irrelevant and that the medal was a fitting acknowledgment of his contribution to Australia.

About 15,500 Australians will receive a Centenary Medal, the special medal struck to mark a 100 years of federation.

Prime Minister John Howard said the list had been finalised and recipients would receive their medals soon.

Nominations by federal, state and territory governments were made last year and assessed by a committee chaired by historian Geoffrey Blainey.

In Queensland, the Northern Territory and Canberra, medals will be mailed to recipients who will later be invited to vice-regal functions to celebrate the award.

In New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, federal MPs have been invited to hold medal presentations.

The Tasmania list was announced last December.