It’s 18 months since former prime minister Tony Abbott brought back knighthoods in Australia, and now Malcolm Turnbull is already looking to scrap the system.
The decision to reinstate the honour last March, despite having been abolished some 40 years earlier, proved unpopular with voters, with Turnbull calling Abbott out for his “monarchial move”.
According to the Herald Sun, opposition leader Bill Shorten has already endorsed the move to dump the policy in a letter to Turnbull:
“Labor believes the concepts of knights and dames are anachronistic and unfitting.
“Labor abolished knights and dames in 1975 when the Whitlam Government did away with the British Imperial honours system and replaced it with the Order of Australia. Labor’s platform has opposed the inclusion of imperial honours for more than a century.
“The reaction to the Government’s bizarre decision to grant a knighthood to Prince Philip demonstrates that the Australian people believe knights and dames have no place in Australia’s future.”
Abbott was described by commentators as being “out of touch”, “cringeworthy” and an “embarrassment” after he made Prince Philip an Australian Knight.
Earlier this week, columnist and Abbott supporter Greg Sheridan revealed that the award came about after the Queen intervened because her husband complained that Australia had failed to give him enough recognition.
“It was a combination of personal loyalty and the unique standing of Queen Elizabeth that led to Tony Abbott’s worst mistake as prime minister,” Sheridan, The Australian’s foreign editor, wrote.
He argues that following the Queen’s request “all that was honourable and generous in Abbott — loyalty, chivalry, romance — was lined up against the pragmatic political judgment that should have guided him” saying it caused Abbott “enormous personal damage”.
In the wake of the former PM’s “captain’s pick”, he handed over responsibility for awarding the honour to the Council for the Order of Australia.
The Council did not hand out any knighthoods in the Queen’s birthday honours in June.
During Abbott’s time knighthoods went to former NSW governor Dame Marie Bashir and former governor-general Dame Quentin Bryce, along with current governor-general Sir Peter Cosgrove, and fellow former defence chief Sir Angus Houston.
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