Over 25 years ago, the Australian government abolished knighthoods and other feudal titles from their honours system. Now, on a whim, Tony Abbott is bringing them back:
“Pre-eminent” Australians will become knights and dames at the Queen’s approval for the first time since 1989 after a shock announcement by the staunchly monarchist prime minister, creating a new tier of honour as an “important grace note” in our national life.
But as he prepared for the governor general, Quentin Bryce, to hand over to her successor, Peter Cosgrove, Tony Abbott announced that, on his recommendation, the Queen had amended the letters patent for the Order of Australia to create a new honour: knights and dames of the Order of Australia.
He had not discussed the move with either his cabinet or his party room and said he had made the decision “in the past few weeks”.
Cabinet collective responsibility? What's that?
So, thanks to the archaic views of one man, Australians will be dragged backwards into a past of status and hierarchy. And while the first recipients are intended to be governors and public servants, its unlikely to be long before the usual corruption rears its head, and they start handing them out to businessmen in exchange for donations. Dame Gina Rinehart anyone?