Yes Sir? No Sir!
Professor David Flint – the convenor of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy (ACM) – is on the march again and as usual he’s on his way back to yesterday.
He’s worked himself into right royal frenzy over the fact that the government New Zealand has restored titles – “sir” and “dame” – to its honours list and seems peeved that Kevin Rudd won’t follow suit.
Flint would know titles were expunged from the Australian honours system in 1986 – with the approval of the Queen.
That arch monarchist John Howard didn’t move to have them restored so it’s highly unlikely Rudd would bother.
Under the old system a lot of politicians got them but by the same token so did many deserving Australians – Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, Dame Phyllis frost, Sir Ian Potter, Sir Macfarlane Burnett to name a few.
However it’s worthwhile sharing with readers an anecdote which puts a few things concerning the bestowing of titles for politicians into perspective.
The late Senator Nancy Buttfield, a Liberal from South Australia and an old friend when made a Dame of the British Empire told me how it came about.
The then Prime Minister, Billy McMahon (he hadn’t given himself his own knighthood then) called Nancy and told her he’s put up her name in the next honours list.
He went on: “I was going to do it earlier but Sir John Cramer (a founder of the Liberal party) called in a favour and wanted a higher order of the knighthood he already had…
“I wasn’t going to do that so I made his wife Mary a dame which was the one I had reserved for you.”
That puts the whole question into perspective. If New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and other Commonwealth countries want to elevate their citizens to dizzy heights well, let them.
In egalitarian Australia where we have an excellent system for acknowledging distinguished citizens and which is out of the hands of the prime minister of the day we are in front and we are winning.
Granting titles in Australia in the 21st Century would be a mockery – just as is retaining a foreign monarchy.
We have done well removing one; it’s time we removed the other shackles and become our own nation.
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