The media is often likened to dogs with short attention spans which is why when Prime Minister Tony Abbott shocked the nation by announcing the return of knighthoods, many smelled a squirrel.
With that teeth-clenched grin of his failing to conceal his delight, Abbott successfully diverted the attention of the media and the nation away from his government’s wind back of racial discrimination laws.
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His decision, made without consulting Cabinet, may be as nutty as squirrel crap but it worked.
He did apparently consult Senator George Brandis – probably because the media had Brandis in a squirrel grip after he declared: ‘People do have a right to be bigots!’
Perhaps they had the announcement squirreled away for a stormy day.
The knighthood biz came as a particular shock because just a few months ago Abbott scoffed at the suggestion.
Australia used to have quite a few Knights but not so many Dames.
They included such illustrious names as Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Sir Terry Lewis and Sir Robert Askin.
Labor PM Gough Whitlam canned knighthoods in 1975, Liberal PM Malcolm Fraser reinstated them a year later and Labor PM Bob Hawke axed them again in 1983.
Howard appeared to not give a rat’s ass and left it at that, reasoning the dignity of the honour was being damaged by all the to-ing and fro-ing.
So it will be rather ironic if he ends up securing a knighthood from his chief cheerleader – the current PM who decides who receives the honour.
The first two knighthoods will go to outgoing Governor-General Quentin Bryce and incoming Governor-General Peter Cosgrove as Abbott said they should be honoured for their extraordinary service.
Because a massive salary, multiple posh houses, servants, cars and parties just don’t cut it anymore? What a rat race.
But it was a particularly tricky move as Dame Q’s son-in-law is Opposition leader Bill Shorten.
Mr Shorten managed a mumbled: “I’m concerned the Abbott Government thinks this is a priority – what about jobs, health and education?”
Phew, Easter dinner saved.
Premier Campbell Newman backed the move and immediately started drawing up a list of ‘prominent’ Queenslanders to be knighted.
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