2 Nov 2015

Australia ditches knights and dames

2:05 pm on 2 November 2015

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has dumped knights and dames from the Order of Australia, after Cabinet agreed they were not appropriate in the country's modern honours system.

New Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the change would not affect the country's existing knights and dames. Photo: AFP

Former prime minister Tony Abbott re-introduced the old-style imperial honours in 2014 and, at the time, said up to four would be bestowed each year.

Mr Turnbull, who is a well-known republican, today released a statement saying the Queen had agreed to remove the honours.

"The Cabinet resolved to recommend to Her Majesty that she amend the Letters Patent, which establish the Order of Australia, so that knights and dames would no longer be appointed to the order," the statement said.

"This change will not affect existing knights and dames of the order."

Since 2014, the honour has been bestowed upon Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, the country's former governor-general Quentin Bryce, Prince Philip, former Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston and former New South Wales governor Marie Bashir.

Dame Quentin Bryce, left, and Sir Peter Cosgrove at a reception at Government House in Canberra on 13 February to mark 40 years of the Australian honours system.

Dame Quentin Bryce, left, and Sir Peter Cosgrove at a reception in Canberra in February to mark 40 years of the Australian honours system. Photo: AAP

Mr Abbott shocked his own party when he brought back the titles in 2014 and was ridiculed as "out of touch", but it was his decision to knight Prince Philip on Australia Day this year which drew the greatest controversy, the ABC reported.

Following a public backlash, Mr Abbott announced he would remove himself from the process of choosing knight and dames.

In New Zealand, the government re-introduced knights and dames to the honours system in 2009 after they were dropped in 2000.

- ABC