Friday, January 20, 2012

A New Australian Honours System

Once again the time will soon be upon us when the Australia Day Honours List will be announced and while the majority of Australians will pay little interest and the media not much more, those of us with more than a passing interest in such things can only shake our heads at what has evolved to become the Australian Honours System.
 The Order of Australia established in 1975 on the advice of the PM Gough Whitlam consisted of the grades Companion, Officer and Member it being modelled upon the Order of Canada which was established some years earlier in 1967. Upon the advice to Her Majesty  of Whitlams successor as PM Malcom Fraser in 1976 the grade of Knight/Dame was added and the Medal of the Order. In 1983 with the election of the Labor Hawke government the rank of Knight/Dame was abolished with only  fourteen Knights and Dames added in that time. Obviously it had become to exclusive with the majority of the appointees being Vice Regal Representatives, Politicians or Senior Judges and an easy target in the class war.
Whilst the Order was split into two divisions one being the General Division the other the Military Division this Fogey says that the Order of Australia should only consist of a single division with all appointees being equal in grade. 
With those who administer the system continuously opposing calls for Australia to follow other nations examples and create other orders that compliment the Order of Australia, rather than rely on the one size fits all as is currently the case, there truly is such a requirement and there is certainly argument for the return of the grade of Knight/Dame though on a far more equitable basis. However it is suggested by some that honours that bestow a prefix title are somehow foreign or not matching the egalitarian spirit, this Young Fogey argues on the contrary, that what has made this country great from the very beginning is the ability of all no matter their background to harvest the rewards of success. However one accepts that some, for personal reasons, maybe uncomfortable with the  title Sir or Dame, and for that reason they could opt to not be dubbed and simply use the relevant postnominals.
 Below is listed a suggested new list of Orders for Her Majesties Australian subjects in a improved Honours System
*A supreme national order(title yet to be determined) replacing the current orders of the Garter and Thistle, these are primarily national orders of England and Scotland, Australia should have its own equivalent, whilst a regrettable loss due to their prestige etc these orders too were once young and in time our own will gain esteem. It would be  limited to approximately 24 appointees plus extra royal knights/dames with visiting foreign royals eligible as extras. This Order would be within the sovereigns own personal gift and made with the approval  of the Prime Minister

* The Order of Australia would be expanded to consist of the grade of Knight Grand Companion (GCA) and Knight Companion(KCA) then the current Companion, Officer, Member and Medal of the Order. The Grand Companion could be conferred upon visiting Presidential Heads of State. There would be no limit to the number of appointments to the order overall but a limit yet to be determined annually for GCA and KCA perhaps six GCA and twenty KCA

*A new Order would be established with recipients to be known as Companions of the Honourable Order of Excellence(CE) the honour like the Order of Merit and Companion of Honour would bestow no prefix and primarily honour service to the Arts, Science, Politics and Religion with a limit of 42 appointees.

* Her Majesty would still retain the Royal Prerogative to bestow the Order of Merit and Royal Victorian Order and the status of the Order of St John would remain the same.

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