Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott decided to introduce a new “gracenote in our national life” – knights and dames – for “extraordinary and pre-eminent servants of the Australian people”, because he didn’t think the current honours system did enough to acknowledge the achievements of some.
That raises the question, how much recognition do people in public life need, especially those who, as the PM put it, never sought public office?
Our first knight and dame, outgoing and incoming Their Excellencies the Honourable Governors-General, Quentin Bryce AC CVO and Peter Cosgrove AC MC, haven’t exactly been short-changed when it comes to honours and titles, especially due to the latter’s distinguished military career.
It’s also not the former general’s first knighthood – last year, while Chancellor of Australian Catholic University, The Pope awarded him a knighthood – one of three to distinguished Australian Catholics – in the Order of St Gregory.
Here are the honours the first Australian knight and dame in three decades have already collected.
Dame Quentin Bryce
Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), 2003.
Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), 1988. “In recognition of service to the community, particularly to women and children”.
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO), 2011. from Queen Elizabeth II
Dame of grace of The Most Venerable Order of The Hospital of St John of Jerusalem November, 2003.
Australian Sports Medal, 2000. “For Services to Women’s Cricket”.
Centenary Medal, 2001. “For service to Australian society in business leadership”.
Grand Cross of the Royal Order of the Crown, 2010. From King George Tupou V, of Tonga.
She also has honorary doctorates in laws or letters from eight Australian universities.
Sir Peter Cosgrove, who was 2001 Australian of the Year, has the following honours:
Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), (Military division), 2000. “For eminent service to the Australian Defence Force as the Commander of the International Force East Timor”
Member of the Order of Australia (AM), (Military division), 1985. “In recognition of service as Commanding Officer 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment”.
Military Cross (MC), 1971. One of just 9 Australians with this British and former Commonwealth award for “gallantry during active operations against the enemy” for his time at 9 RAR in Vietnam.
Australian Active Service Medal 1945-1975 with Vietnam clasp
Australian Active Service Medal with East Timor clasp
International Force East Timor Medal (INTERFET)
Australian Service Medal 1945-1975
Centenary Medal, 2001. For service to Australian society as Chief of the Defence Force
Defence Force Service Medal with Federation Star, for 40–44 years service
National Medal, 1980. “For diligent long service to the community in hazardous circumstances, including in times of emergency and national disaster, in direct protection of life and property”
Australian Defence Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal. From the Republic of Vietnam
Additional Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ACNZM), 2000. From New Zealand
Commander of the Legion of Merit from the United States
Tong-il Medal of the Order of National Security Merit. From South Korea
Officer of the Legion of Honour. From France
Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry, 2002. From Portugal
Distinguished Service Order, 2004. From Singapore
Collar of the Order of Timor-Leste, 2009. From Timor-Leste
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, 2013. From the Holy See.
He also has several honorary doctorates.