Former Prime Minister John Howard would not accept a Knighthood, saying he stood by his long-held view — articulated in his autobiography — that the concept was “anachronistic”, even to conservative Australians.
This week the Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced he had been given permission from the Queen to reinstate Knights and Dames within the Order Order of Australia.
Howard — a staunch supporter of the constitutional monarchy — told The Australian Financial Review that, while he was not criticising Abbott, he never entered politics for honours, and would stand by the view described in his book, titled Lazarus Rising.
“Despite urging from a number of people, I did not restore knighthoods,” Howard wrote.
“For me, this was an on-balance decision as in some respects the knighthood system, properly applied, was a way of giving special recognition to certain people.
“I knew, however, that I had other fish to fry, and as a strong supporter of the constitutional monarchy continuing in Australia, I did not wish to be seen to be reviving an honour which to many, even conservative Australians, was somewhat anachronistic.”
Howard, who is already a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia — the nation’s top honour when it was awarded in 2008 — is considered a political mentor to Abbott.
The decision to reinstate Knights and Dames has been slammed by The Opposition, especially during a rowdy Question Time in the House of Representatives yesterday.
According to the Australian Financial Review’s report, even with The Coalition, reaction has largely been one of “bemusement” after what appears to have been a unilateral decision.
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