In this day and age with Australia moving inexorably towards becoming a constitutional republic, the Prime Minister, Mr Tony Abbott wants to bring back (in part) the imperial honours system that was abolished in 1986. Mr Abbott asked the Queen to restore the system of pre-eminent honours.
However, Prime Minister Tony Abbott insists he’s not bringing knights and dames back into the Australian honours system to lock Australia into the monarchy, even though he freely admits that he is a staunch monarchist.
Retiring Governor-General Quentin Bryce has become a Dame and her successor General Peter Cosgrove will become a knight, after he takes post as the next Governor-General.
The honours category, will recognise extraordinary and pre-eminent Australians for their service to Australia or humanity. Up to four knights or dames may be appointed annually.
“I believe this is an important grace note in our national life,” Mr Abbott said on Tuesday.
Mr Abbott, a former director of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy, defended the decision, saying it would enhance the dignity of the existing system. Asked whether he was seeking to cement the monarchy into Australian life, Mr Abbott said: “No, I’m not.” “Everyone knows where I stand on this particular issue,” he said. “I am a staunch supporter of our existing constitutional arrangements – always have been and, I imagine, always will be.
it just goes to show how out of touch Mr. Abbott is, by restoring a system which backdates back into English history for thousands of years. With more and more Australians wnating to move to a presidential republican model, this decision is completely out of step with popular belief.
Opponents were quick to mock the government’s move, some adopting a humorous approach.
“I have consulted my economic roundtable and can categorically state that by adopting this policy, dozens and dozens of pounds can be saved,” Labor senator Sam Dastyari told the Senate, at times adopting Shakespearean language.
He welcomed news from “Sir Anthony Abbott of Warringah” that ministries will now be decided by way of a jousting tournament in the caucus room.
His Labor colleague Stephen Conroy was more serious in his criticism, asking why the government can find money for knighthoods but not $250,000 a year for the families of Australian veterans.
Australian Republican Movement national director David Morris called it a retrograde step. “This is turning the clock back to a colonial frame of mind that we have outgrown as a nation,” he said. Mr Morris also questioned why the current system was deemed insufficient. “Our identity today is Australian, so our national honours should be thoroughly Australian.”
The Australian Monarchist League commended Mr Abbott’s announcement.
The prime minister consulted Dame Quentin and General Cosgrove on the proposition and said they were happy to accept.
Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said the move showed the government was rushing back to the 19th century. “Even the arch-monarchist John Howard didn’t bring back knights and dames,” Mr Dreyfus said.
Australian Greens leader Christine Milne said Australia had gone socially backwards under Mr Abbott’s government. “Bring on a republic,” she said.
In conclusion, it is my firm belief that British honours have no place in an egalitarian Australian society. Australia is the great classless society where anyone can achieve their goals if they are perpared to work for them. The reintroduction of knights and dames is a blatant attempt to install a imperial class system into modern Australia.