Turnbull pokes fun at the knights and dames
The knighthood honours system isn't a throwback to imperial times, but in line with many great republics like Guatemala, Turnbull jokes at a Free TV event on Wednesday.PT3M14S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-35jq2 620 349 March 27, 2014
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Malcolm Turnbull has gently mocked the return of knights and dames as a step that is in keeping with the honours system of esteemed republics such as Peru and Guatemala.
Speaking at a TV launch at Parliament House on Wednesday night, the Communications Minister and avowed republican told the crowd the move had merely taken Australia back to 1983, the last time that knights and dames were appointed and the year that Daryl Somers won the Gold Logie.
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has gently mocked the reintroduction of imperial honours in a speech at Parliament House. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
''Is it really so long ago?'' he asked.
Mr Turnbull, who in a blog post urged republicans not to lose sleep after Tuesday's surprise announcement by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, was more tongue in cheek on Wednesday, declaring 2014 ''an interesting time to see knights and dames coming back''.
''It's good to see the broad acceptance of it in the community today,'' he said to much laughter.
The Communications Minister said that reinstituting the honours should not be seen as a "monarchical move".
''After all there are many distinguished republics that have knights in their honours system – Guatemala for example, Peru, Argentina, Brazil,'' Mr Turnbull said.
''France and Italy, I mean they are two of the most distinguished republics.
''So anyone who thinks this is some kind of slap to the republicans is really misjudging the Prime Minister's commitment to looking after all Australians and bringing us all together.''
Mr Turnbull added that the ''Prime Minister has shown the way he is going to lead'' in limiting knighthoods to a very select group of people.
Former prime minister and monarchist John Howard disagreed with the decision, which Mr Abbott did not take to his partyroom for discussion.
Mr Howard said it would be seen as ''somewhat anachronistic'' even by conservatives, and he told The Australian Financial Review that it was ''unlikely'' that he would accept a knighthood should it be offered.
Other Coalition MPs expressed surprise at the move.
Mr Turnbull's speech came after a day of ridicule from Labor, who have described the Prime Minister's decision as "missing the main game" and likening Mr Abbott to Marty McFly from the Back to the Future trilogy.
In a speech in the Senate on Tuesday night, Labor Senator Sam Dastyari mocked the move, saying he could ''think of no more important policy for our realm right now''.
''Friends, together we will stop the moats,'' he said.