Last Updated: December 22, 2013

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PM Tony Abbott rules out reinstating Knights and Dames in Oz

PM rules out revisiting imperial titles

Bradley Wiggins, 2012 Tour de France winner and Olympic gold medal winning cyclist, is Knighted by the Queen. Picture: AP Source: AP

HE restored an oath of allegiance to the Queen when he was sworn in as Prime Minister, but Tony Abbott has ruled out bringing back Knights and Dames in Australia.

Monarchists including David Flint and Alexander Downer have mused that the PM is such a traditionalist that he may follow New Zealand's lead and bring back knighthoods.

Tony Abbott swore allegiance to the Queen as incoming Prime Minister but has ruled out bringing back imperial honours.

Tony Abbott swore allegiance to the Queen as incoming Prime Minister but has ruled out bringing back imperial honours. Source: News Limited

But critics within the Liberal Party have savaged the idea of as an attempt to introduce a "bunyip aristocracy''.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Abbott said he did not support the idea, which would involve converting the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) to Knighthoods or reintroducing a new regal honour.

Alexander Downer had hoped Prime Minister Tony Abbott would follow New Zealand's lead and reinstate Knight...

Alexander Downer had hoped Prime Minister Tony Abbott would follow New Zealand’s lead and reinstate Knights and Dames. Source: News Limited

"It's true that some people have said to me: 'What about doing what New Zealand did','' Mr Abbott said.

"But I don't think it would be practical to just rebadge ACs. There was a rarity to their AC equivalent which made it easier for them to do this."

Prime Minister Tony Abbott denies radio broadcaster and devout monarchist Alan Jones suggested bringing back the titles.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott denies radio broadcaster and devout monarchist Alan Jones suggested bringing back the titles. Source: News Limited

Asked if Sydney radio broadcaster and friend Alan Jones had pushed the idea, Mr Abbott said he had not.

"No, no, no. Just a bit of chatter. I don't think New Zealand is a relevant model here.

"The problem is they just basically converted there ACs into knighthoods. I just don't think that's realistic in this country.

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"Look, I am pleased that we've got Sir David Smith and Sir Rod Eddington. Good to see Sir Bradley Wiggins as a result of things he did in the United Kingdom.

"I don't mind having Knights and Dames around. We've thankfully still got a few."

Australian businessman Sir Rod Eddington received a Knighthood for services to the aviation industry after serving as CEO of ...

Australian businessman Sir Rod Eddington received a Knighthood for services to the aviation industry after serving as CEO of British Airways. Source: News Limited

Former Prime Minister John Howard's appointment to Her Majesty's Order of merit (OM) also sparked discussion about the option last year.

It was Gough Whitlam who axed Knighthoods in 1975, only to watch Malcolm Fraser reinstate Knights and Dames a year later.

Members of the Australian Mocharchist Leageu Professor David Flint and Jai Martinkovits. Alan Jones is the leagu...

Members of the Australian Mocharchist Leageu Professor David Flint and Jai Martinkovits. Alan Jones is the league’s patron. Picture: Nic Gibson Source: News Limited

Then after the 1983 election, then Prime Minister Bob Hawke abolished the category all over again.

John Howard is understood to have rejected the idea of reinstating Knights and Dames on the grounds that the endless chopping and changing was undermining the dignity of the honour.

Many of his advisers also believed the Liberal Party would be mocked and seen as out of touch with modern Australia.

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