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ACM Home arrow Knights & Dames

Knights & Dames

 

King George V knights Sir John Monash on the battlefield

[King George V knights Sir John Monash on the battlefield]


In 1975, on the recommendation of the Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, The Queen approved the creation of a three level Order of Australia.

The government intended that it would supersede all other honours for Australian purposes.

The Queen is the Sovereign Head of the Order of Australia and the Governor-General is the Principal Companion. As Chancellor, the Governor-General is charged with the administration of the Order. The Official Secretary to the Governor-General is the Secretary of the Order.


...Knights  and Dames....

 

The Fraser Liberal Government (1975–83) began recommending Imperial honours again and added a fourth level of knight (or dame) to the Order of Australia. .

This level was removed by the Hawke Labor Government (1983–91). Proposals to restore this were rejected by the Howard Liberal Government (1996-2007)



...Imperial honours....

 

The awards of knighthoods and ranks in Imperial honours orders continued to be recommended by State Coalition governments, but were suspended under State Labor governments. They were brought to an end by The Queen in 1994.

Knights and dames and others holding Imperial honours retain legal recognition, for instance in the Australian Order of Precedence.



...Sovereign’s personal honours ....

 

The Queen of Australia may  confer honours upon Australians where these emanate from her personally rather than on the advice of government, in particular the Order of the Garter (last awarded to former Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen, 1994), the Order of the Thistle (last awarded to former Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, 1963), the Order of Merit (last awarded to Dame Joan Sutherland, 1991), the Royal Victorian Order (the Knighthood was last awarded to David Smith, 1990), and the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem (for services to St John Ambulance).



...a solution?...



The absence of a fourth level of the Order of Australia makes it difficult to compare with imperial and foreign orders. In the meantime politicians who object to imperial knighthood seem to have no objection to accepting foreign knighthoods, and to seeking approval to the retention of the honorific “ the Honourable”.

Australian honours do not obtain great recognition internationally in contrast with knighthoods – henc ethe high take up of the offer of the New Zealand government to allow certain recitionet of NZ honours to take one.

The objection to knighthood sdoes not seem to be to the knighthood itself but rather to the titles. We have suggested a compromise in these columns based on a precedent offered by bishops of the Church of England.

For some time it has been the practice of Anglican bishops to refuse the accolade, that is the dubbing, the stroke on the shoulder with the sword, and consequently, the title “Sir”.

This is because a knight would once give military service to the king, and the clergy did not think this appropriate for them. 
 So when they accepted a knighthood, they would not them take the title, “Sir”. This was also the practice in Australia among Anglicans, Sir Marcus Loane being an exception.

 

Catholic bishops in Australia would normally take the accolade, and proudly used the title granted by their Sovereign. You can imagine that there might have been a tinge of regret among the Anglican bishops (and their wives) when they read or heard of the activities of, say, Sir Norman Cardinal Gilroy or Archbishop Sir James Duhig. 

Perhaps this Anglican practice provides the solution. Reinstate the AK and the AD, but allow recipients to reject the accolade. Those who don’t want the title could reject the accolade; those who were happy with it could accept it.  Is this the solution?    

 

 

 



Queen's Counsel restored Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Friday, 19 June 2009

The New Zealand government is to be congratulated for once again turning back the wave of creeping republicanism, where politicians, without any mandate, remove the symbols of the Crown.

The title of Queen's Counsel is to be restored through legislation that will be introduced to Parliament later this year, according to the Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson.

The title Senior Counsel, introduced by the previous government in 2008, will be removed by the legislation. The title suffers in standing with the title Queen’s Counsel which is instantly recognizable. The award of Senior Counsel by the NSW bar was damaged by the refusal for some time to grant the title to an outstanding barrister who had criticised, as she saw it,  the way in which the law and the defence bar was over protective of the accused.  The pendulum she said had gone too far.

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The Attorney General hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that the title Queen's Counsel is instantly recognised as providing a certain standard of legal advice both among the New Zealand public and internationally.

 "The Government is taking these steps to protect the essential independence of the inner bar.The looser rules for eligibility as Senior Counsel introduced by the previous government threatened to dilute the independence of our most senior advocates."

Senior Counsel appointed last year would have the option of adopting the title of Queen's Counsel or remaining as Senior Counsel. This decision follows its reversal of the abolition of the titles of Knight and Dame from the NZ honours awards.

The rank of Queen’s Counsel was first abolished in Australia by a New South Wales Liberal Government, which shows that the unhealthy obsession of attacking the institution which is above politics is not limited to one side.   Let us hope that the next NSW government leads the way and restores the title. It should probably be offered first to SC's.

 
General Sir Peter Cosgrove: Don't leave the Bill Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Thursday, 28 May 2009

General Peter Cosgrove AC MC is precisely the sort of person who should have long ago been knighted. In more sensible times, when envious republican ideologues did not dominate policy in our country, this would have occurred with the almost universal approval of the people.  

It is ironical that this sense of republican equality does not apply to the benefits the republican politicians determine for themselves. The latest is the decree that the next generation work until they are 67, while the republican politicians can access their mainly taxpayer funded superannuation and other generous benefits when they attain the ripe young age of 55. That age limitation was only introduced recently, and applies only to recent politicians.

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[ General Peter Cosgrove AC MC ]
 

The better time for The Queen or the Governor-General to have dubbed the General was when he returned from leading the international forces, INTERFET, in its very successful 1999 peacekeeping mission to East Timor. We should recall that this finally liberated the people from years of brutal subjugation.

This was the moment when the Howard government should have advised the restoration of the awards of Knight of Australia, AK and Dame of Australia, AD.

While General Cosgrove delivered the military success, John Howard and Alexander Downer were responsible for the very brave political decision to do this and to do it in accordance with international law.

Had the General been knighted then, even republicans would have rejoiced, or would have been rendered silent – at least the sensible ones.

 A great opportunity was missed, but it is not too late to knight the General, so that as Sir John Monash was, he will henceforth be known as Sir Peter Cosgrove.


Image
[ King George V knights Sir John Monash on the battlefied ]


(Years ago when it was obsessed with republicanism, The Australian newspaper decided to drop all titles.  It was a silly policy from which they had to make exceptions. But referring to Sir John Monash without his title was jarring. He treasured it and no ideologue should have tried to remove it posthumously. I remember an opinion piece in The Australian under the name “Harry Gibbs”. Sir Harry Gibbs, please.)


...a bill of rights...



I saw General Cosgrove when he launched a book against the proposed bill of rights on Monday. In introducing him, I think Julian Leeser said that General Cosgove had done more for more peoples’ human rights than a battalion of human rights lawyers.

In his speech General Cosgrove mentioned the republican referendum, and referred to the “silent wisdom’ of Australians. General Cosgrove said he believed a bill of rights was "possibly more important" than the republic. I would not of course agree with that.

He warned that the Australian public was unimpressed with "me-tooism", the tactic of telling Australians they it must have a bill of rights because others have them. He said such laws "have made not a jot of difference to crushing inequities" in other societies. "Enduring laws ought not to be a fashion statement," he said, declaring “Don't leave us with the bill."


Among the glittering array of writers in the book are former Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen, who wrote the foreword with chapters from the Queensland Chief Justice Paul de Jersey, Senator George Brandis,  former Prime Minister John Howard, former High Court Justice Ian Callinan, Professor James Allan, Alan Anderson, Acting Justice Kenneth Handley, Dr. David Bennett, Dr Helen Irving, former Keating government minister Professor Gary Johns, General AJ Molan, Professor Geoffrey Blainey, Dr John Hirst, Bronwyn Bishop MP, the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, Rabbi John Levi, and Brigadier Jim Wallace.

Paul Kelly reported extensively on the book in “Rights bill won't pay” The Australian on 27 May, 2009

One of the editors, Julian Leeser, a director of the Menzies Research Centre, says the matter is so important it should not process without a referendum.

The other editor, Ryan Haddrick casts doubt on the validity of the proposed legislation. He argues it may be invalid because it would purport to give the High Court an advisory jurisdiction, which the High Court long ago ruled was unconstitutional, wisely in my view.

(That said, the Canadian Court does have such a jurisdiction)

Further information about the book and the launch may be obtained from the Menzies Research Centre.



...another view....




The book follows the release and extensive promotion of Geoffrey Robertson’s latest publication, The Statute of Liberty. In a critical review in Quadrant Online, John Izzard argues that every Australian should read this book. “Their future liberty may just depend upon their doing so.”

In a recent piece in Quadrant in May, (“Religion, Conscience and the Law,” – available only to subscribers; but the paper on which it is based is available as a PDF from the University of Melbourne) republican Jesuit Father Frank Brennan expresses the quandary he must find himself in.

Father Brennan fears that a Bill of Rights will deliver results inimical to Catholic moral teaching. But in the nineteenth century, the US Supreme Court used it to preserve slavery and invalidate laws trying to improve standards and safety in factories. Father Brennan said:


“We need to do better if faith communities and minorities are to be assured that a Victorian-style charter of rights is anything but a piece of legislative window dressing which rarely changes legislative or policy outcomes, being perceived as a device for the delivery of a soft-Left sectarian agenda—a device which will be discarded or misconstrued whenever the rights articulated do not comply with that agenda.”



...a kangaroo committee?....



Father Brennan heads the Federal government’s consultative committee into a bill of rights, and as with the other members, is thought to be in favour of such a bill. This has led Julian Leeser to refer to the body, with some justice, as a “kangaroo committee”, drawing an analogy with a kangaroo court .

As with Paul Keating's  Republican Advisory Committee chaired by Malcolm Turnbull and the 2020 Summit, its decisions were determined in advance by the simple expedient of choosing the right people.         

 
Knighthoods return to Yarralumla Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Monday, 11 May 2009
After the knighthood for the New Zealand Governor-General, we are delighted to learn that a knighthood has been awarded for an important person at Government House Canberra.No we are not to address Her Excellency as Dame Quentin Bryce....yet. Her Excellency’s Official Secretary Stephen Brady has been made a Knight Commander of the Order of Orange-Nassau.  

This has been made in recognition of his “outstanding services to the bilateral relationship” when he was Ambassador. During this time the armies of the two countries were in close co-operation in the Afghanistan province of Oruzgan.

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[ ( Sir) Stephen Brady ]




...Calm down republicans - it's a foreign order...



Although this is the equivalent of the Order of the British Empire, republicans can calm down. This is a Dutch order, not a British or Australian order. You see under the curious thinking of Australian republicans, foreign orders are perfectly alright. it is the home grown version which is anathema.

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[ Commander in the Order of Orange-Nassau ]

The Order of Orange-Nassau has two divisions, civil and military.  It was established in 1892 by The Queen Regent Emma of the Netherlands, Regent for her young daughter Queen Wilhelmina.  This was to fill in a gap when a Luxembourg order, the Order of the Oak Crown, was no longer available. This occurred when the title of Grand Duke went to the nearest male on the death of King William III, who was also Grand Duke of Luxembourg. The Order of Orange –Nassau is named after the Dutch Royal House.

Image
[ Queen Wilhelmina ]




...no more politics, please....



Mr Brady is the only Australian to have been so awarded. The investiture will be in The Hague on 3 June, 2009.

We congratulate Mr. Brady on this award. We suspect that his colleagues will now address him as "Sir Stephen."

And as we have suggested here, we trust he is advising Her Excellency how the role and function of the office of Governor-General requires that the incumbent not enter  the political arena.

We hope to  hear no more predictions about Australia becoming a republic, and worse, how that is part of our democratic development. 

 
Republican politicians' foreign knighthoods Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Wednesday, 06 May 2009

Why do Australian republican politicians accept foreign knighthoods? What is wrong with Australian ones?  

I was thinking of this in the context of the timely reintroduction of knighthoods in New Zealand with The  Queen  knighting   the Governor-General of New Zealand,  Sir Anand Satyanand, at Buckingham Palace.  

Sir Anand’s award is not an imperial award, as republicans may suggest. He is a Knight Grand Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. It is of course a New Zealand, and not a British Order.

Image
[ The Rt. Hon. Reg Withers....magnificently loyal ]
 

Sir David Smith has reminded me of the example of Gough Whitlam, the former Prime Minister. And thta reminded me of a  Bastille Day ceremony in Sydney a few years ago, where the French Consul - General conferred a knighthood on an Australian citizen.

At the conclusion, I turned to Mr Whitlam, who was sitting in the row behind me, and said, with a straight face, “'Mr Whitlam, you are the reason why Australians have to go to a foreign republic to get a knighthood.”

“He threw back his head laughing and said 'Yes, I have five or six of those myself!”

Sir David reminds me that Gough seemed ready to accept every foreign honour he could lay his hands on.  He holds eight foreign honours from sundry republican presidents and a foreign monarch.


Yet he spurned appointment to The Queen’s Privy Council (which would have given him the prefix Rt. Hon.) and set a damnable precedent for all of his successors, save one.

Malcolm Fraser accepted appointment to the Privy Council and recommended it for Governors-General Sir John Kerr, Sir Zelman Cowen and Sir Ninian Stephen, as well as for senior ministers the Rt. Hon. Doug Anthony and the Rt. Hon Reg Withers.

Incidentally, let us not forget that while Mr. Fraser and Mr Anthony turned their backs on the Crown in 1999 and jumped on the republican bandwaggon, Mr Withers distinguished himself by strongly  affirming of his allegiance to the Crown not only  as a delegate to the 1998 Constitutional Convention but also in his superb advocacy for the No case during the 1999 referendum campaign.

The question remains. Why did Mr. Whitlam, and why do so many republican politicians spurn such honours from The Queen of Australia, but accept them from foreign presidents and monarchs?  

Where is their loyalty?

 
Titles: NZ possibilities, stampede by ex-NSW politicians Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Titles are in the news on both sides of the Tasman. DD McNicoll reports in his Strewth column in The Australian on 11 March.  In ‘Arise, Sir Sam’ he says: 

“Sharp-eyed readers who have perused the lists of those exalted Kiwis who have been honoured by being made either principal or distinguished companions under the New Zealand honours system, report that a couple of local residents may be contemplating the offer of New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to upgrade to knighthoods. Ralph James Norris, now chief executive and managing director of the Commonwealth Bank but also NZ executive of the year in 1997 and 2004, is one. Sir Ralph has a nice ring to it. The other is the noted thespian Nigel John Dermot Neill. Strewth wonders whether he will opt for Sir Nigel or Sir Sam.”

[ Another title: Sam Neill as Cardinal Wolsey ]
[ Another title: Sam Neill as Cardinal Wolsey ]

In ‘Honourable exceptions?’ he tells about the stampede of former Labor ministers seeking a title from the Crown:

“Meanwhile, on the local titles front, NSW Premier Nathan Rees performed a neat sidestep when questioned yesterday over allegations he attempted to block some former ministers from retaining the honorific, the honourable. Former premier Morris Iemma, former planning minister Frank Sartor and former health minister Reba Meagher have all recently been granted the use of "the hon" for life. But Sydney's The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that Rees had refused to forward their applications to NSW Governor Marie Bashir for approval until a number of his cabinet colleagues pressured him to change his mind. Asked yesterday why he first blocked the applications, Rees sidestepped. ‘The fact of the matter is that I referred it off to the Governor,’ Rees grumbled. “
 
 
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