ACT News

Abbott's knights and dames don't reflect modern Australia, says Andrew Barr

It was the "captain's pick" heard around the world, nearly bringing down a Prime Minister. 

Now Andrew Barr is set to become the latest politician to slam Tony Abbott's decision to award a knighthood to Prince Philip, arguing the Prime Minister's decision to reinstate the top honours don't reflect "a modern, confident and diverse Australia." 

On Thursday Mr Barr will move a motion in the Legislative Assembly describing the additions to the Order of Australian as having devalued awards given to other notable Canberrans.

"Like many Australians, I have found the decision to bring back the archaic honour system a step backwards for Australia," Mr Barr said. 

"The imperial designation of knights and dames was abolished by former prime minister Bob Hawke in 1983, as he saw the system did not reflect Australia's identity.

"Almost 32 years on, the reaction of the community towards the decision to bring back the system and award a knighthood to Prince Phillip clearly shows that modern Australian's do not accept the concept of awarding our highest achieving citizens with a knighthood or a damehood." 

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Federal Liberal backbenchers said the Duke of Edinburgh's knighthood was proof that Mr Abbott had lost touch with the public, contributing to the spill motion moved against him last week. 

"I will call on the Speaker to convey the Assembly's position on the matter and recommend to the Prime Minister that he abolish the award of knight and dame of the Order of Australia," Mr Barr said.

He paid tribute to Canberrans recognised with other awards in the Order of Australia, including basketball coach Carrie Graf, Questacon founder Michael Miles Gore and disability advocate Sally Richards.  

"These individuals have achieved this recognition due to the contribution they have made to our community, and the decision to add a more senior level of award exclusively for captain's picks is deeply disappointing," Mr Barr said. 

"From speaking to many Canberrans and hearing the public debate on this issue, I am convinced that the most appropriate course of action is to abolish the knights and dames honour system in Australia.

"I hope the rest of the ACT Legislative Assembly shares this view and makes a collective decision to approach the Prime Minister requesting the system be removed." 

Mr Abbott will no longer pick recipients of the awards as Prime Minister after handing responsibility to the Council of the Order of Australia.