Monday, November 2, 2015 10:54 am
Sydney (AFP) – Australia has removed knights and dames from the national honours system, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Monday, dismissing the ancient titles as “not appropriate” in the modern age.
Knights and dames were unexpectedly revived last year by then prime minister and ardent monarchist Tony Abbott — prompting accusations he was in a “time warp” and out of touch with voters.
Turnbull, an outspoken republican, had been widely expected to dump the titles ever since he replaced Abbott in a conservative Liberal Party room coup in September.
“The cabinet recently considered the Order of Australia… and agreed that knights and dames are not appropriate in our modern honours system,” Turnbull said in a statement.
The prime minister said Britain’s Queen Elizabeth had agreed to the government’s recommendation to remove knights and dames from the Order of Australia, which recognises achievement and service.
“This change will not affect existing knights and dames,” he added.
Speaking later to reporters in Sydney, Turnbull said the matter was “a long way from being the most important issue in Australia today”.
But he added: “This reflects modern Australia; knights and dames are titles that are really anachronistic, they’re out of date, they’re not appropriate in 2015 in Australia.”
Abbott’s reintroduction of knights and dames in 2014 was questioned, but it was his subsequent decision to knight Queen Elizabeth II’s husband Prince Philip which was met with ridicule and disbelief.
“It was a farce, a joke, a national disgrace,” Labor MP Chris Bowen told reporters in Sydney.