Who would have predicted that Prince Philip’s knighthood would have been marked by a serious tactical blunder?
That wasn’t the knighthood. It was the commentariat overplaying its hand and revealing that it would do anything to topple the Abbott government. Like Lenin’s ‘useful idiots’, some normally sensible commentators and politicians joined this beat-up.
What had Tony Abbott done to deserve such venom? Putting his life on the line with the nation’s lifesavers and fire-fighters, actually living and working among the indigenous people would make him a model statesman in any other similar country. He’s a man of strong beliefs, but they’re the wrong ones. His monarchism is bad enough. Worse, he’s a Catholic, but not one of Cardinal Pell’s’ cafeteria Catholics. Just as the elites believe governments can change the climate, so he accepts the Church’s teaching − as he will when the elites have moved on to their next fashion. They’ll never forgive him for winning the leadership and the election, repealing the CO2 tax and stopping the boats, all against their predictions. They especially fear he’ll stop the present generation of elites from living off the next generation of workers.
That’s why his gracious acknowledgment of the Prince’s lifetime of service, which cost nothing, was portrayed as more reprehensible than importing a jihadist fifth column, allowing dangerous criminals including terrorists to walk the streets, so negligently installing pink batts that young workers were killed and thieving from future generations by putting the country into hock.
They fell on one tool − ridicule. To cover up the facts, the public was bombarded with at least ten myths and lies.
First, this was totally unprecedented. In fact, Bob Hawke did much the same, without a peep from the commentariat. Many countries award knighthoods and high honours to foreigners − Philip has received about 70; resulting in confected outrage in only one country − ours.
Second, the Order’s only for Australians. So what was it Nelson Mandela, Jacques Cousteau, Jerry Lewis and dozens more were wearing? A Qantas frequent-flier badge?
Third, the Prince has taken a place meant for an Australian. There is a yearly cap of four for Australians, but not for honoraries, nor by convention for royal supernumeraries. Here’s a tip for Tony. Lift the cap on Aussies and give our leading Australians international recognition just as New Zealand does. Make Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett and Fiona Wood Dames. Award knighthoods to Russell Crowe (though a New Zealander), Richie Benaud, Craig Wing, the under-recognized Matthew Mitcham, Barry Humphries (to catch up with Dame Edna), and all our VCs. And why not unleash the hidden monarchist in Malcolm Turnbull and Peter FitzSimons?
Fourth, Prince Philip has had little connection with Australia. In fact, he risked his life for us for years. As a young Greek prince he volunteered for the Royal Navy, protecting our convoys, serving with Aussies in battles and later protecting our shores while serving on the Sydney and Manus based Commonwealth fleet. After his naval career was cut short, he did our bidding regularly over almost seven decades, constantly drawing international media attention to us. He even joined in fighting a bushfire. He has made significant contributions to conservation and especially through his Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards, benefitting more than 700,000 young Australians. He surely fulfils the criteria ‘extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit in service to Australia or to humanity at large.’
Fifth, Abbott made this Australia Day the worst in living memory. That was surely in 2012 when rather than reading the Riot Act, the police almost drove Prime Minister Gillard’s face into the ground as they carried her bodily into her car. Unfortunately this made news and was beamed across the world. Although designed in the PM’s office, the riot was initially blamed on… Tony Abbott.
Sixth, the Prince is gaffe-prone, racist and sexist. The truth is that when the Prince speaks to members of the public, London tabloid journalists have long gone onto auto-pilot. Asking what he said, they find this will include a joke to put people at ease. They’re not offended but our tabloid journalist then converts this into yet another headline-making gaffe.
Seventh, most politicians are opposed to titles. Actually many of our long suffering politicians from all sides have actually put up for our sakes with being knighted by a foreign monarch, president or The Pope. They only have problems with a knighthood from the sovereign to whom they have sworn allegiance, and beseech her to let them remain ‘The Honourable’ on retirement.
Eighth, Prince Philip is funded by taxpayers. The monarchy is actually self funded from the Crown Estate on which the Queen pays an effective tax rate of 85 per cent. Still working, the Prince will never receive generous superannuation nor any lucrative directorships.
Ninth, knighthoods are un-Australian. But like the rule of law, they came with the settlement. Bob Hawke made a mistake in scrapping them. It would have been better to rename them as his NZ counterparts did. Better still, he could have made the title ‘Sir’ optional as has long been the case with most Anglican (but never catholci) bishops who think it unseemly to take up arms. They did this by not accepting the accolade, much to their wives’ annoyance. Knighthoods are much preferred by the deserving, as the NZ experience indicates. When they were offered a trade-in on their peoples’ republican nomenclature so that they would be addressed as ‘ Sir’ or ‘Dame, almost all the nation’s most prominent scientists, athletes and film artists chose international recognition. Just as republican lawyers much prefer to be a Queen’s Counsel.
Tenth, the comatose movement for the politicians’ republic will be revived. Support for this has been falling dramatically since the landslide No vote in 1999. But where once the strongest opponents were the elderly , the young are challenging them, as the opinion poll on norepublic.com.au demonstrates.
Our commentariat has exposed itself as being no more than political players whose agenda is to topple Abbott.