There has been much consternation and even mirth in the media over the decision of the Federal Government to restore Knights and Dames to the Order of Australia.
The deliberate inference in the media that these are “Imperial awards” ignoring the fact these awards are for Australians and decided by Australians is crass and inexcusable.
But at its heart perhaps the commentators and media are saying no modern Australian is capable of matching the achievements in the arts, jurisprudence, science, exploration, sports etc as some great and exceptional Australians of the past.
Sir John Monash
Sir Sydney Nolan
Dame Joan Sutherland
Dame Joan Hammond
Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith
Sir Robert Helpman
Perhaps they are saying that current or future Australians cannot be as talented as:
Sir Mick Jagger
Sir Paul McCartney
Dame Judy Dench
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
At its heart the opposition to knighthoods is part of the myth of egalitarianism that runs through Australian culture. A myth that like all myths has an element of truth but in reality is ultimately just a myth. Australia is and has always been a classless society in name only.
Opposition to knighthoods is part of the longstanding republicanism within the Labor Party, born out of Irish nationalism of a century ago as much as any innate Australian republicanism.