AU Political News: Of Knights and Dame, the ‘re-Order’ of Australia by Tony Abbott

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By Athena Yenko | March 26, 2014 12:43 PM EST

After almost thirty years, Prime Minister Tony Abbott brought back the nation's highest awards, the titles of knights and dames in the Order of Australia, to be given to the "most excellent" Australians.

The first awarded dame was the outgoing Governor-general Quentin Bryce and the first knight, to take on the title of "sir" when sworn in on Friday, will be former Defence Force chief General Peter Cosgrove.

"On my recommendation, Her Majesty the Queen has amended the Letters Patent constituting the Order of Australia. Knights and Dames in the Order of Australia will be approved by Her Majesty on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.There may be up to four Knights or Dames created in any year. This special recognition may be extended to Australians of "extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit" in their service to Australia or to humanity at large.

My intention is that this new award will go to those who have accepted public office rather than sought it; and who can never, by virtue of the office they have held, entirely return to private life," as spoken by Mr Abbott during parliament Wednesday.

With the Order of Australia, Governors-General shall be knighted immediately when they take office. Politicians, Chief Justices, Chiefs of the Defence Force and people of the same rank will be among those who qualify for the honour.

However, critics shall not let this pass.

Opposition Bill Shorten said that the Abbott Government is prioritising plan for Knights and Dames while there had been no immediate plans for more important agenda like jobs, health and education.

David Morris, the Australian Republican Movement's national director, said that Mr Abbott's decision was like turning the "clock back to a colonial frame of mind."

For Opposition legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus and Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne the decision was backwards step.

With sarcasm, South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon suggested for the government to induct as many as knights and dames it can and the auction them to augment Australia's budget deficit.

Even netizens mocked the move with a "Sir Tony Abbott" Twitter account,  making fun of knighthoods and dameships.

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