Until the 1970’s the Australian honours system mirrored that of the Brits, from whom we inherited it.
Gough Whitlam, on becoming Prime Minister, abolished the old system and instituted a new one, called the Order of Australia.
No problem with the concept, a little disappointed at the lack of imagination in its name tho.
Anyway, the old titles were swept away. No more lords, knights or dames. No more CBE’s, MBE’s and so on. The awards were – Member, Officer and Companion of the Order of Australia, and the left rejoiced.
Then, for those who know their modern Australian history, Gough was swept away, and the Tories got back in. In 1976 Knight and Dame were added to the list, and the left snarled.
Ten years later, in 1986, Bob Hawke, or Hawkey as some fantasise it is affectionate to call him, abolished those titles, and the left rejoiced, again.
Now, one would have thought that, 28 years having passed, the matter would be settled, but no. The age of chivalry remains undead, and like zombies rising from their graves, Knights and Dames have returned.
Not only that, but the positions will be institutionalised. The Queens Representative in Australia, the Governor General, will be given the title of Sir or Dame on ascension, and will be head of the order for the period of their tenure in office.
Personally, I don’t care, I am a bit of a traditionalist, so I also don’t object. After all, what is the difference between putting OA (Order of Australia) after your name, and putting Sir or Dame before it?
Now, Australia doesn’t have a system of nobility, even if there is no constitutional prohibition against it, as the US has. So a Knight is the lowest rank of nobility, does it matter? The titles aren’t hereditary, so, no, not to me.
This has meaning for me only to the extent of the pleasure I will gain from watching progressive heads explode.