The Prime Minister and Governor-General of Australia
Today, the big news for monarchists in Australia and right across the Commonwealth is that the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Tony Abbott M.P., has announced that clauses to enable the creation of new Knights and Dames have been restored to the statutes of the Order of Australia today. As of today, the first titular honour bestowed on an Australian by the Queen on the advice of an Australian government in almost a quarter of a century is now the outgoing Governor-General, Her Excellency, the Hon. Dame Quentin Bryce, A.D., C.V.O. Dame Quentin departs Canberra tomorrow.
You can read the Prime Minister's press release here. Fact sheet on the restoration from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet can be accessed at the Australian honours system website here. The transcript of the Prime Minister's press conference where he made the announcement can be found here. You can taste the bitterness of the press gallery, just by reading it.
After December's story rejecting the NZ model, most of us had assumed it was game over - but it appears that the model he will continue with is the Malcolm Fraser version of the Order of Australia, with Knights (AK) and Dames (AD) similar to the Grand Cross/ Grand Companion rank in the UK and NZ, and a non-titular second level of AC.
Still, this is better than nothing. I will be interested to see whether the titular honours under the Royal Prerogative, in particular the GCVO and K/DCVO honours are also restored, but that can wait for another day.
This is a big win for the traditionalist cause in Australia. It is winnable, sustainable - and should the right people be chosen, be hard to dislodge after the inevitable change of government.
UPDATE: Former leader of the republican movement, now minister in Tony Abbott's government, Malcolm Turnbull appears to accept the return of dames and knights here.
UPDATE #2: A thought: has Abbott wedged the Leader of the Opposition by giving the title to his mother-in-law? (Dame Quentin's daughter Chloe is Bill Shorten's wife). Shorten didn't exactly come out all guns blazing against the move earlier, even though the Labor Party is officially, stridently republican.
UPDATE #3: Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus QC (yes, QC) compares knighthoods to slavery.
UPDATE #4: The new GG is now in place - HE Gen. the Hon. Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret'd). The changes have been made to www.gg.gov.au too!
Watch this space!
Her Majesty seems pleased wearing the insignia of the Sovereign of the Order of Australia