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Titles restored

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.


  1. Mr Ed says:

    The Left hate tradition, so this is a small victory in the propaganda war, here in the UK, a Dame is almost always a Lefty bureaucrat or a ripe actress, most Lefties in the UK like their ‘honours’, which only exist in the mind.

    And the inflation is subtly undermining honours.

    Sir Anthony Robinson got a knighthood for acting the part of Baldrick, presenting a contrived Archaeology show Time Team and going to Labour Party conferences and meetings.

    Sir Barnes Wallis, designer of airships, the Wellington bomber and the Bouncing, Tallboy and Grand Slam bombs and more got knighted almost 20 years after WW2.

    True victory shall come when the only words you need to exchange with a Lefty shall be ‘no fries, thanks’.

  2. john in cheshire says:

    I’m not a socialist/communist, but I don’t like the titles system. The very fact someone can be referred to as ‘Sir’ or ‘Lord’ implies that they are somehow superior to the rest of us. To have OA after a person’s name seems to me a better way to recognise someone’s contribution to the country without elevating the recipient to a position they should not expect. After all, when has there been a time when the populace voted for someone to be given any award, apart from things such as X-Factor, that is?

  3. Peter Whale says:

    I would have thought with their heritage and sense of humour Australians would have gone for the Order of the Krays or the Order of Judge Jeffreys . Not knowing which is an accolade or derogatory. Much like our own honours. dishonours list.

  4. NickM says:

    I’m with JiC.

  5. John Galt says:

    Neither the English, nor the Australian system has a scratch on the Malaysian system of titles, including those relating to the rotating kingship, state royalties, federal, state, supernumerary and honorary titles.

    Malay styles and titles

    It brings a whole new meaning to pomposity added to the fact that the literal interpretation of one title used in formal notices “Ke Bawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia” is quite literally “The Dust Under The Feet of His Exalted Highness“.

    All this fancy name calling and bowing and scraping is so past its sell by date.

    I’ll take Kenneth Williams as the the Khasi of Kalibar any day of the week compared those granted such titles and honorifics as they tend to be time served uncivil servants or fired party hacks who got caught with their hands in the till one time too many.

    Oh! I say...

    As with most things in life I am 99% republican, but put up with Brenda and family as less repulsive (although still pretty repulsive) than the idea of President Tony Blair. I accept the honours system in the same casual manner.

    These are not people I would choose to buy a pint for – the only honours system that truly matters…

  6. Mr Ed says:

    Honours do not exist, they are a voluntaristic concept, mere bits of ribbon and metal. I shall award a UK gold sovereign to the first person to show to me a valid scientific method for testing that someone has an ‘honour’ (apart from looking at a list published in a gazette, them wearing a piece of metal and ribbon or being addressed in a particular style).

    This offer is open for 24 hours from now 12.35 GMT.

    Let us be like the Clubmen of Woodbury, rejecting all oppressors.

  7. John Galt says:

    Honours do not exist, they are a voluntaristic concept, mere bits of ribbon and metal.

    Yup, in general I agree, they are mere baubles to stroke the ego’s of our pompous elite. Even when they are handed to so called “people’s champions” such as the school crossing guard who selflessly does her job for 50-years they are at best patronising popularism on the part of the elite.

    The only exception would be people like Johnson Beharry VC who bloody well deserves to be lauded by the nation. As it says on the Victoria Cross itself, it is awarded “For Valour” meaning “…most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy”

    Even to a hoary old cynic like me those honours are deserved and should be bloody well respected. In fact I’d throw in a million quid and VIP treatment for life.

  8. NickM says:

    I don’t think military medals or the likes of the George Cross are the same at all as what superannuated MPs get. Yes Beharry deserved his trip to the Palace and a bit of Crimean cannon. As to your comment about having a pint with… I doubt Johnson Beharry VC has to buy many drinks. The pint criteria is a good one.

  9. Mr Ed says:

    JiC ‘The very fact someone can be referred to as ‘Sir’ or ‘Lord’ implies that they are somehow superior to the rest of us’

    Ah, but what of a ‘Dame’? Is that not comical?

    And why can’t dishonours be bestowed, like ‘Scumbag’ in place of ‘Sir’ for most politicians?

    BTW there is no law requiring that a title be used, there is no sanction for ignoring honours, it is simply a custom.

    Frankly to my mind, anyone who, for example, took part at sea in the Battle of the Atlantic or Bomber Command offensive flights had a level of bravery that I can barely comprehend, it seems slightly absurd to classify courage amongst those men.

  10. John Galt says:

    But that is exactly the problem isn’t it? The mixing of the deserved with the self-serving and in so doing enhancing the one and tarnishing the other.

    Bernard Woolley: In the service, CMG stands for Call Me God. And KCMG for Kindly Call Me God.
    Hacker: What does GCMG stand for?
    Bernard: God Calls Me God.

  11. MrsNick says:

    Caotain Noel VC and bar, MC, RAMC.

    One of only three people to win a second VC.

    Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse, M.C., M.B., Royal Army Medical Corps.


    For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty.

    During an attack he tended the wounded in the open all day, under heavy fire, frequently in view of the enemy. During the ensuing night he searched for wounded on the ground in front of the enemy’s lines for four hours.

    Next day he took one stretcher-bearer to the advanced trenches, and under heavy shell fire carried an urgent case for 500 yards into safety, being wounded in the side by a shell splinter during the journey. The same night he took up a party of twenty volunteers, rescued three wounded men from a shell hole twenty-five yards from the enemy’s trench, buried the bodies of two Officers, and collected many identity discs, although fired on by bombs and machine guns.

    Altogether he saved the lives of some twenty badly wounded men, besides the ordinary cases which passed through his hands. His courage and self-sacrifice, were beyond praise.


    His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of a Bar to the Victoria Cross to Capt. Noel Godfrey Chavasse, V.C., M.C., late K.A.M.C., attd. L’pool R.

    For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when in action.

    Though severely wounded early in the action whilst carrying a wounded soldier to the Dressing Station, Capt. Chavasse refused to leave his post, and for two days not only continued to perform his duties, but in addition went out repeatedly under heavy fire to search for and attend to the wounded who were lying out.

    During these searches, although practically without food during this period, worn with fatigue and faint with his wound, he assisted to carry in a number of badly wounded men, over heavy and difficult ground.

    By his extraordinary energy and inspiring example, he was instrumental in rescuing many wounded who would have otherwise undoubtedly succumbed under the bad weather conditions.

    This devoted and gallant officer subsequently died of his wounds.


    That is a hero. It is a solid gold hero.

    Didn’t they make that utter crook Keith Vaz a Lord?

  12. John Galt says:

    Speaks volumes doesn’t it? Especially that all living VC’s including those serving in the commonwealth and former imperial possessions could fit in a small minibus, whereas the House of Lords alone has about 785 living members.

    As the old saying goes “Guy Fawkes was the last man to enter parliament with honest intent”

  13. MrsNick says:

    I didn’t know I knew so much about the military derring-do. Nick, you have to switch usernames if you swap computers.

  14. John Galt says:

    We all thought you were joining the conversation brilliantly Lizzy

    For your next feat, how’s about the Siege of Stalingrad and the impact on post-war Soviet military strategy?


  15. Mr Ed says:

    ‘Didn’t they make that utter crook Keith Vaz a Lord?’

    If only, had they, he would be ineligible to sit in the House of Commons.

    As for valour, anyone who flew in a Fairey Battle:

    And a musical tribute from Sabaton, showing, as it happens, some Fairey Battles inter alia.

  16. john malpas says:

    As lopng as they have ‘captains’ of sporting teams and red carpets for actors why not have a knighthood here and there. It costs nothing and makes people try harder to get one.
    The OA etc are blandly anonymous . These lack vim.
    Auistralia loves ‘authorities’ that can be trotted out as necessary.
    Dont forget as well all the employment titles – doctor, judge, nurse, headmaster ad lib.

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