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Politicians and judges dominate Queensland list of anointed few receiving knighthoods

29 March 2014 83 views No Comment

POLITICIANS, public servants and judges have dominated Queensland’s top gongs in the century they have been dished out.

The knighthoods which are supposed to recognise the state’s great and good, have been hijacked by the political establishment, handed out to more politicians than any other group.

An analysis of the more than 200 Queensland identities who have received the top Australian and Royal honours exposes the boys club dominating the top awards , more than a fifth have been handed out as the ultimate pollies’ perk, while public servants received 16 per cent and lawyers and judges 11 per cent.

It is only when you enter the knight bachelors designation , at the bottom of the precedence roll , that anyone beyond the corridors of power is recognised. Community workers, philantrophists and educators picked up just a tiny fraction of the gongs.

Just five women with links to Queensland received the top honour, including CWA community activist Dame Alice Berry and Annabelle Rankin, the first Queensland woman to sit in an Australian parliament.

The figures add fuel to criticism of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s decision to bring back the “anachronistic honours , the first being awarded to outgoing Governor-General Quentin Bryce and her replacement Major-General Peter Cosgrove.

Even his Liberal predecessor and monarchist John Howard described the honours as an anachronism and said he would reject any offer of one.

Leading Queensland historian, Professor Ross Fitzgerald, said the Prime Minister had to incorporate all of society for the titles to be taken seriously.

“If there are to be four each year, surely it should include people from the sports and the arts and outside the political compound, he said.

Sir Graham McCamley, who was knighted in 1986, said while he felt privileged to receive the knighthood, he questioned the need to reinstate the regal honour.

“I think it devalues them (the Australian honours system), Sir Graham said.

Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen, however, supported the right of the Federal Government to reintroduce the honour if they saw fit.

“It was given to Joh … and he had well served his country and I think he well deserved it, she said.

Among the pollies, public servants and judges are a smattering of men given the honour for their work in medicine, industry and education, including Children’s Medical Research Foundation founder Sir Lorimer Fenton Dods and former miner Sir James Foots.

Also receiving the honours are aviator Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith and former Criminal Justice Commission head Sir Max Bingham.

Politicians include Ingham-born former Prime Minister Sir Arthur Fadden and former Queensland Premiers Sir Francis Nicklin and Sir Robert Philp, along with Queensland’s best known knight, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten yesterday said he would reverse Mr Abbott’s decision to bring back knights and dames if elected.

Daniel Meers, The Courier-Mail, March 29, 2014