The King's Speech star, who was the first Australian-born actor to win an Academy Award, was handed the accolade by Australian leader Julia Gillard outside Parliament House in the capital city of Canberra on Wednesday (25Jan12).
Gillard praised Rush's achievements in his longrunning career in showbusiness, his commitment to the arts and his charity work.
Rush took the opportunity to praise the Australian arts industry and voiced his hope that more young stars will be able to follow in his footsteps, saying, "Our population today is 22,812,617. I'm very proud to be one of that number. This is a great honour for a performing artist in theatre and film.
"I feel sure that my colleagues will see this as an endorsement of our national story of creativity... Hopefully there are footsteps for young Australians to follow proudly. We are the plucky country."