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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 19 February 2015) . . Page.. 576 ..

Year, Rosie Batty, and to those who have received honours in the past. Perhaps just as unfortunately, it was seen by everyone I have talked to as a shocking monument to the cultural cringe that we all thought we had left behind decades ago.

Like many Australians, I found the decision to bring back this archaic honours system a step backwards for our country. The reaction of the community towards the decision to bring back the system and award a knighthood to Prince Philip clearly shows that modern Australians do not accept the concept of titling eminent persons as a knight or a dame, no matter how distinguished their lives or careers. It harks back to a forelock-tugging bygone era, not the Australia of 2015 or even an Australia of 30 years ago. It is very divisive, and, frankly, ridiculous—even more so when the selection was made by one man, who brings with him significant cultural baggage and strange preconceptions about who is deserving of our nation’s highest honour.

I know that many Canberrans and many Australians share this view, which is why I am raising it in the Assembly today. I am calling on all members to support this motion and to send a clear signal to our national government that in our modern, multicultural and forward-thinking city, in a forward-thinking nation, we do not support this resurrection. I believe this is the right thing to do, as it reflects the fundamental position of the overwhelming majority of constituents that we represent. Without the unanimous support from the Assembly for this motion, I think Canberrans would be justified in wondering if this place was able to recognise and appropriately convey their horror at the current standing of our Australian honours system.

Canberrans have always been over-represented in Australian honours. It is a mark of our city’s culture, our intellectual strength and our community mindedness. Just in the last 10 years, people like Rob De Castella, Paul Bongiorno, Carolyn Forster, Carrie Graf, Sally Richards, Fae Yeatman, Jean Macaulay and many others have been recognised for their efforts to make this city and this country a better place. We owe it to these recipients of our very own Australian honours system, past, present and future, to return their awards to the status they deserve.

I note that, under significant pressure from his own party room and from the country as a whole, the Prime Minister has agreed to relinquish his “captain’s picks” for the council selection process. That is a good step, but it does not go far enough. It is nowhere near good enough.

From speaking to many Canberrans, I am convinced, and I hope this place is convinced, that the most appropriate course of action is to simply and quickly abolish the knights and dames award classification in Australia. I hope the rest of the Assembly shares this view and that we can make a collective decision to approach the Prime Minister requesting that this anachronism be removed entirely and that the honours system revert to its previous strongly supported structure. I commend this motion to the Assembly.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (11.13): I think I am correct in saying that this is the first time I have ever seen a member of the Labor Party speak to executive members’ business. I do not recall it.

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