March 9

Knighthoods: surge of support for restoration

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There is a surge of support for the New Zealand decision to restore titles to honours awarded in New Zealand.

The Prime Minister John Key announced on Sunday 8 March that The Queen of New Zealand had agreed that knighthoods would be included in the Birthday Honours List in June.

Eighty-five people who had been honoured since 2000 would be offered the opportunity to take up titles, according to a report from Paul Chapman in Wellington for the London Daily Telegraph on 9 March. 

The Prime Minister referred to the late Sir Edmund Hillary, who conquered Mount Everest, as an example of how a knighthood allowed the nation to pay a fitting tribute to its heroes.

"This is about celebrating success," he said. "Roughly six or seven New Zealanders every year are selected, and given a very high honour to celebrate a lifetime of service and achievement, and it's my view that this visible titular honour is a very public way of celebrating their achievements."

Recipients of the current honours system were poised to take titles, writes Mr. Chapman. Miki, the wife of Peter Snell, a three-times Olympic gold medallist, said her husband would "go with the change".

 Professor Peter Gluckman, one of New Zealand's most eminent scientists, who would also be eligible, said a title was of great value in terms of gaining recognition overseas.

Professor Noel Cox, of the Monarchist League of New Zealand said: "The restoration of knighthoods is supported by a groundswell of public opinion. The decision to remove titles denied the community a public and enduring opportunity to celebrate success."

Professor Cox is an internationally respected authority on the role and function of the Crown.

But Phil Goff, who replaced Ms Clark as leader of the NZ Labour Party said “It seems odd that we move back to having sirs, madams and dames when we thought that that was part of an English colonial system, not one that reflects New Zealand as a truly independent country."

…Australia misses the boat …….

When the examples of awards to well known Australians are recalled – Sir John Monash, Sir Don Bradman, Dame Joan Sutherland – most Australians will tell you these honours should be available for distinguished Australians.   Given so many politicians have foreign knighthoods isn’t it about time we restored our own?

The point Professor Gluckman is apposite: these titles give immediate international recognition and respect in a way that an AC does not.  We thus disadvantage Australians who have done well in the sciences, sport and the arts.  They will slip behind the british and New Zealanders in recognition. What a failing on the part of successive governments, under Prime Minister Hawke, Keating and Howard.

Why should this nation shoot itself in the foot just because of the obsession of a miniscule group of republicans whose project they designed down to the last detail was overwhelmingly rejected by the people in 1999?

  


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