Prime Minister Tony Abbott has given up 'Captain's picks' on knighthoods

Tony Abbott at the National Press Club. Source: screenshot

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he’s “learnt his lesson” over the “captain’s picks”, which saw him hand out a knighthood to the British consort, Prince Philip, on Australia Day, sparking fresh leadership speculation.

“I accept that I probably overdid it on awards,” Abbott said during questions at his National Press Club address today.

As a result, he announced he’s giving up his ability to hand out knighthoods and all decisions will now be made by the Council for the Order of Australia, headed by recently knighted former defence chief Sir Angus Houston.

“All awards in the Order of Australia are henceforth being entirely a matter of the Order of Australia Council,” he said.

There are a maximum of four knighthoods handed out annually, starting with the outgoing and incoming govenors-general, Quentin Bryce and Peter Cosgrove, since the Prime Minister reinstated the honour 10 months ago. Until now, the choice of recipient was the sole prerogative of the PM.

His decision to hand a knighthood to Prince Philip, alongside Houston, led to widespread criticism, most tellingly, from many of his staunchest supporters.

Handing control of the award to the Council, which also determines the recipients of Australia’s other four honours, scrapes one more barnacle off Abbott’s ship of government.

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