It is with deep regret that, Australia's current Prime Minister, and former head of the Australian Republican Movement, Malcolm Turnbull, announced on 2 November 2015, that Her Majesty had approved his request to amend the letters patent of the Order of Australia. This amendment will see the removal of Knights and Dames, once more from the Order of Australia. This will occur after they had been reintroduced on the advice of his predecessor the monarchist Tony Abbott. These amendments to the Order will subsequently be gazetted on 22 December 2015.
The premise for such action, was on the basis that cabinet (many of whom now reflect the republican views of their leader, no doubt in the hope of further promotion) considered that the use of the prefix title of Sir or Dame was no longer appropriate in todays modern Australia. The term anachronistic was also used. However such beliefs regarding prefix titles strangely do not seem to extend to their use of the title "Honourable" which members of the Federal Executive Council are entitled to be referred to as.
Since we are now in a position whereby honours that confer a prefix title are for the time no longer part of the Australian Honours System (outside the Royal Prerogative, that is today rarely if ever exercised). This young fogey would seek to draw attention towards another little used honour, that could, and should, once more become available to Australian citizens.
The Order of the Companions of Honour was instituted in June 1917 at the same time as the Order of the British Empire and is often referred to as, the junior Order of Merit. Which is an Order within the Royal Prerogative, Australians the Honourable John Howard OM, AC, SSI and Lord May of Oxford OM, AC, FRS are members of this Order. The Order of the Companions of Honour, bestows no title upon the recipient. Though they may use the post-nominal letters CH. The order which had originally consisted of just fifty members, would be later enlarged to the present number of 65 in total, with 45 members from the UK, seven from Australia, four from New Zealand and seven from other Commonwealth nations.
As a Commonwealth Realm, The Prime Minister of Australia has the authority to advise Her Majesty regarding appointments in relation to the Australian quota. Of which there are currently six positions vacant. The Rt Honourable Doug Anthony AC, CH, PC the former Deputy prime Minister being the only living Australian recipient.
By once again making nominations to such a prestigious Commonwealth honour. Australia would have the ability to recognise outstanding achievement of its artists, writers, musicians, scientists and politicians at a Commonwealth level. The Commonwealth being a body, that regardless of whether one be a republican or monarchist, is considered an important institution for the nation to remained involved with. By exercising Australia's right to make nominations for membership of the Order, we as a nation would have the opportunity to avoid the politically sensitive dramas,b that have come to be associated with the topic of Knights and Dames. Now we can only wait and see who will have the good sense, to once again make a nomination for membership.