Australia dumps knighthoods

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Six weeks after replacing ardent monarchist Tony Abbott as prime minister, republican Malcolm Turnbull has abolished the much ridiculed Australian knighthood awards brought in by his predecessor.

Turnbull, who led Australia’s republican movement from 1993-2000 before he entered parliament, announced Monday Queen Elizabeth II had agreed to his government’s recommendation to remove knights and dames from Australian honours awards.

In his statement, Turnbull said his cabinet of senior ministers had agreed that knighthoods were “not appropriate in our modern honours system.”

Australian knighthoods were dropped in 1986, but in 2014 Abbott brought them back, saying he planned to issue four a year.

There was widespread ridicule when Abbott controversially awarded one in January to Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband, on Australia Day.

It was one of Abbott’s more controversial personal decisions that ultimately led to a revolt inside his own party, ending with him being replaced with Turnbull.

Turnbull said existing knighthoods and damehoods would not be removed.

Five have been awarded: Prince Philip; current Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove, who is the Queen’s official representative in Australia; former governor general Dame Quentin Bryce; former Defence Force chief Sir Angus Houston; and former New South Wales governor Dame Marie Bashir.

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