Good Knight And Bad Luck: Malcolm Turnbull Ditches Knights And Dames


One of Tony Abbott’s most unpopular decisions as Prime Minister has been undone by Malcolm Turnbull, with the short-lived changes to include Knights and Dames in the Order of Australia ditched by the Federal Cabinet.

In 2014 Tony Abbott reintroduced the award, which had been withdrawn under the Hawke government in 1986.

Immediately causing eyebrows to be raised, the changes soon inspired widespread ridicule after it was revealed the Queen’s husband Prince Philip was to be among the first handed the reinstated honour.

The unpopular Prince looks to be the last of his line to be granted the title, with Malcolm Turnbull issuing a statement today confirming the scrapping of the system.

“The Prime Minister announced today that Her Majesty The Queen has agreed to the Government’s recommendation to remove Knights and Dames form the Order of Australia,” a statement from the PM’s office said.

“Awards in the Order of Australia are an important way of honouring the achievements and service of many Australians, including those unsung heroes who might not otherwise be recognised outside their local communities”

“The Cabinet recently considered the Order of Australia, in this its 40th anniversary year, and agreed that Knights and Dames are not appropriate in our modern honour system.”

The statement said the changes would not affect the Knights and Dames of the Order already granted the title, and that the process for appointments in the Order would remain unchanged.

Aside from Prince Philip, the award was granted to four people under Tony Abbott’s government including;

  • Retired Australian Defence Force chief Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston
  • Former Governor General Quentin Bryce
  • Current Governor-General Peter Cosgrove
  • Former Governor of NSW Marie Bashir

The news comes less than a week after Tony Abbott attempted to defend his legacy in, of all places, England, at the annual Margaret Thatcher Address.

The former PM argued it was not the longevity of a leader that mattered but their ability to ‘get things done’.

In the case of Malcolm Turnbull, the ability to get the things his predecessor did undone may be a truer test.

Max Chalmers is a former New Matilda journalist and editorial staff member. His main areas of interest are asylum seekers, higher education and politics.