Tennis great-turned-politician John Alexander wants to replace knighthoods with 'Matehoods'

Shot, Mate. MP John Alexander. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

“Arise, Mate Philip”

John Alexander, the former tennis player who became a politician when he won John Howard’s old seat of Bennelong for the Liberal party, has a cunning plan to get his boss, Tony Abbott, out of the strife for knighting the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip: replace knighthoods with “matehoods”.

“Our highest honour should be a Matehood and you should honour people by officially calling them ‘Mate’ and the official greeting should be ‘G’day Mate’,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell today.

“I think Prince Philip would get a big kick out of that if, when he came to Australia, the official greeting was ‘G’day Mate’; I think he’d be tickled because he’s got this great and irreverent sense of humour.”

The idea came about when Abbott announced the new honours last year. Alexander floated it past a couple of party colleagues, and “decided to run with it”, especially when he wanted to pay tribute to a “dear couple” who run his local newspaper. He decided to present them with certificates anointing them as “Mates of Bennelong”.

“They’re officially ‘Mates of Bennelong’ and the official greeting is ‘g’day mate’,” the federal backbencher said.

Mitchell wondered whether loyal servants of the nation would embrace the idea. Alexander was undeterred.

“I’m not sure whether we couldn’t modify our knighthoods and while that might be the official title that people are knighted and made dames, but commonly they should be referred to as ‘mates’,” he said.

He’d start by calling Australia’s other most recent knight, Sir Angus Houston, mate, revealing that he’s know him for more that 40 years because he dated the former defence chief’s little sister when Alexander was 16, and that “his real name’s Alan”.

“I think he would be sort of embarrassed to be called Sir Angus and I think he’d love the idea of being referred to by all and sundry as G’day mate,” Alexander said.

“My greeting [to him] is often ‘I knew you when you were nobody’.”

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