Australia ditches 'out of date' knights, dames

2015-11-02 08:38
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (File, AFP)

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - Australia has removed knights and dames from the national honours system, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Monday, dismissing the ancient titles as "not appropriate" in the modern age.

Knights and dames were unexpectedly revived last year by then prime minister and ardent monarchist Tony Abbott - prompting accusations he was in a "time warp" and out of touch with voters.

Turnbull, an outspoken republican, had been widely expected to dump the titles ever since he replaced Abbott in a conservative Liberal Party room coup in September.

"The cabinet recently considered the Order of Australia... and agreed that knights and dames are not appropriate in our modern honours system," Turnbull said in a statement.

The prime minister said Britain's Queen Elizabeth had agreed to the government's recommendation to remove knights and dames from the Order of Australia, which recognises achievement and service.

"This change will not affect existing knights and dames," he added.

‘Not appropriate in 2015’

Speaking later to reporters in Sydney, Turnbull said the matter was "a long way from being the most important issue in Australia today".

But he added: "This reflects modern Australia; knights and dames are titles that are really anachronistic, they're out of date, they're not appropriate in 2015 in Australia."

Abbott's reintroduction of knights and dames in 2014 was questioned, but it was his subsequent decision to knight Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip which was met with ridicule and disbelief.

Republicans, who favour cutting Australia's ties to the British monarchy, had already accused Abbott of turning the clock back to a colonial mindset, while the Labour opposition said the titles should never have been brought back.

"It was a farce, a joke, a national disgrace," Labour MP Chris Bowen told reporters in Sydney.

"It is not appropriate in modern day Australia ... that we are clinging onto imperial Britain through our honours system, and we shouldn't be celebrating the fact that knights and dames are gone, we should be lamenting the fact that they came back under this government."

Republic by stealth

Australia has long wrestled with the idea of cutting ties to the British monarchy, but a 1999 referendum on the issue kept the traditional model under which Britain's Elizabeth II is head of state.

The Australian Monarchist League said it was disappointed and concerned by Monday's development, accusing Turnbull of "republicanism by stealth".
"Mr Turnbull is trying to bring on a republic and this is a way of starting it all off," the league's national chair Philip Benwell told AFP.

"We don't forget that Mr Turnbull led republicans into the last referendum."

A ‘knightmare’

But Australian Republican Movement chair Peter FitzSimons welcomed the demise of knights and dames, saying their reintroduction reflected "Australia of the past, not the diverse and multicultural nation that exists today".

The misstep over Prince Philip's knighthood was seen as one of the catalysts for a leadership challenge against Abbott in February, adding to flagging opinion polls and an unpopular budget.

He survived the first challenge after awarding the honour to the non-resident duke, dubbed a "knightmare" by the media, but was removed by Turnbull's challenge seven months later.

He has since admitted the decision was a mistake, describing it as "an injudicious appointment, obviously".

Knights and dames were introduced into Australia's system of honours in 1976 by then-prime minister Malcolm Fraser, but abolished a decade later by Bob Hawke.

Previously, Australians had been honoured through British imperial awards.

Read more on:    malcolm turnbull  |  tony abbott  |  australia

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.