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Knights and dames scrapped from Order of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull says

By Political Reporter Jane Norman.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has dumped knights and dames from the honours system, meaning Australians will no longer have the chance to become a sir or a dame.

The old-style honours were re-introduced by former prime minister Tony Abbott in 2014 for “pre-eminent Australians” but became the subject of ongoing ridicule and controversy.

Mr Turnbull, who is a well-known republican, today released a statement saying the Queen had approved his Government’s request to scrap the titles.

“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 honours system,” he said.

“The Cabinet resolved to recommend to Her Majesty that she amend the Letters Patent, which establish the Order of Australia, so that Knights and Dames would no longer be appointed to the Order.”

Since 2014, the honour has been bestowed upon the Governor General Peter Cosgrove, former governor general Quentin Bryce, Prince Phillip, former Defence Force chief Angus Houston and former NSW governor Marie Bashir.

Mr Turnbull said they would not be affected by the changes.

Mr Abbott shocked his own party when he brought back Knights and Dames in 2014 and was ridiculed as “out of touch”, but it was his decision to knight Prince Phillip on Australia Day this year which drew the greatest controversy.

Following a public backlash, Mr Abbott announced he would remove himself from the process of choosing knight and dame-hoods.

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Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen welcomed the decision to scrap the titles but said they should never have been brought back.

“It was a farce, a joke, a national disgrace that the Liberal National Government, of which Mr Turnbull was a Cabinet minister, decided to set the rewind button on Australia’s national institutions and reinstate knights and dames,” he said.

“It is not appropriate in modern day Australia … that we are clinging onto imperial Britain through our honours system, and we shouldn’t be celebrating the fact that knights and dames are gone, we should be lamenting the fact that they came back under this Government.”

The head of the Australian Republican Movement, Peter FitzSimons, described the announcement as a relief but the Australian Monarchist League has accused Mr Turnbull of trying to “break Australia’s heart”.

“The scrapping of Knighthood … gives all who value constitutional security and stability cause for concern that this is just the beginning of another campaign of republicanism by stealth,” he said.

As the head of the Republican Movement, Mr Turnbull famously accused former prime minister John Howard of “breaking the nation’s heart” when the republican referendum failed in 1999.

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his post originally appeared on ABC News.

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