What you said: on gender targets in our honours system

Each week The Canberra Times polls a group of committed readers on a range of issues. To join our Insiders panel to have your say and be in the running for prize draws, go to canberratimesinsider.com.au

Full survey results are published in each Saturday's newspaper. Here are some of this week's reader responses.

The Order of Australia medal. Photo: Peter Braig

The Order of Australia medal. Photo: Peter Braig

Do you agree with Labor's plan to introduce a gender target in the Australian honours system?
Yes 50% No 38% Unsure 12%

Introducing quotas for women receiving national honours will damage the Order of Australia, which changed political appointments in favour of every Australian having the right to nominate someone for an honour. Do we want to go back to a system that requires an nomination to have a politician's approval?

A target is not a quota - it's an aim that ensures the issues and problems are considered and barriers to reaching equality are minimised or removed. To set a target for honours would mean looking at the total system, what encourages people to nominate and how those awarded are selected. 'Merit' is not always completely objective and can be made more so.

As a past occasional independent referee for Government House for honors I did not support all the applications and the system is open for all online. I do not support honors for time-servers and those who merely are dong their jobs and those who receive multiple awards over time.

I think there needs to be a review of the categories to enable the maximum diversity - not just gender.

I agree that both genders should be more equally represented but I also feel it should be scaled back considerably - a case of where less would be more. It is far too grandiose and elitist in my opinion.

Awards are for meritorious service. Having a gender target debases the value of the award. Did they earn the award or were only there to make up the numbers?

Giving 'Honours' based on sex is taking the country backwards! The honours system should be based on merit and achievement, not what is between your legs.

Recipients of Australian honours should be determined on merit, not gender and cetainly not on whether they are doing their job properly. Too many appear to be given to high profile/high ranking figureheads who depend on many many others for their perceived accomplishments. These awards should be given to people who go above and beyond in a certain field, or to people like the cave divers who put themselves at risk to save others. 

We should do away with the whole honours system. Many people are rewarded for the job they get paid to do. Besides, I’m against the whole Idea that some people are more important than others.

As a female I do not agree with any gender quotas or targets. Recipients under quotas will always have a question mark over them as to whether they were merited or just "awarded" to make up the numbers.

I think the Australian honours system is flawed in many ways but addressing the gender imbalance is a start. Then they need to stop rewarding people for doing the jobs they are paid to do, apart from in very exceptional circumstances.

The honours system is a medieval concept, well past its use-by date. Scrap them and save money.

The Australian Honours system is to recognise sterling service. A gender quota would skew the criteria unfairly. Good service should be gender neutral.

On the Australian honours topic, the most useful thing would be to stop giving the honours to people just for doing their job. The old boys in any club just organise for one another to get them. One (male) recipient told me that 50% of these are earned and 50% are not, and he wondered which 50% he was in.

The Australian Honors System must be purely based on the person's achievements, not whether the person is male or female. What does need urgent review is how people who are paid (often handsomely), working in their normal job, ie: public servants, are further rewarded with a gong. If you must, give them an award certificate for excellent service, not a gong.

While I welcome the proposal to have a quota for women to be honoured more equitably, there is no doubt that the honours system needs major reforms. We should abandon selecting the Australian of the Year because the present state and territory based seflection system means many Australians are excluded no matter what they’ve done.

The gender target for the honours system is tricky. The final decision needs to be merit based. I think a gender target for nominations and for the selection body are more important.

A gender target for the honours system is lowest common denominator, populist politics, lacking understanding of recognition for an above and beyond merit system. Targets demean worthy recipients, whereas lifting gender equality requires effort to identify and nominate more women.

The honours system is about merit not gender quotas, if women are "under represented" it is because other women and people are not nominating them. This is not the fault of the honours system. Leave the gender wars out of this.