Oh dear lord, a second newspaper editorial I agree with

A newspaper editorial today discusses knighthoods and how apart from bitter socialists like Brian Rudman most Kiwis kind of like knighthoods.

New Zealanders and Australians have much in common, but not everything. Our respective attitude to knighthoods is one area we, in general, differ. While New Zealanders can hardly wait to see titles bestowed on their homecoming All Black captain and coach today, Australia has just abandoned the practice – again.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced its royal honours, abolished long ago but reinstated by Tony Abbott last year, will not be continued.

In this country, the Prime Minister has practically promised Richie McCaw a knighthood and the Labour Party, which abolished them when last in government, endorses the offer. Its deputy leader, Annette King, yesterday said the party had not reviewed its policy on royal honours since they were restored by National in 2009 but she saw no appetite in this country for “chopping and changing” the system.

She is right. When Helen Clark abolished the titles in 2000, she did so without much public discussion and not all in her party were comfortable with it. Her deputy, now Sir Michael Cullen, thought it a mistake. The country missed them during those nine years.

Without a few titles conferred, the annual New Year’s and Queen’s Birthday honours lost much of their focus and public interest. Their reinstatement was well received.

Even Sir Michael Cullen lined up for one.

Though knights and dames remain nominally royal appointments, New Zealanders treat them as the indigenous decision they really are. So much so that John Key does not pretend he would need to check McCaw’s chances with the Queen. These decisions are effectively made by an honours committee of the Government, which receives recommendations from people and organisations far and wide.

Indeed it might be better if the task of selection was passed to the monarch’s local representative. The office of Governor General would be capable of forming an honours panel to receive recommendations and decide who was worthy of what. That would lessen the suspicion that honours are sometimes used for political reward and, conversely, it could allow knighthoods to be conferred on Prime Ministers who win a third term. Sir Robert Muldoon was the last of them to receive the title when still in office and he was accused of knighting himself.

Australians may be uncomfortable with titles, seeing them as carrying airs and graces incompatible with the Australian character, but we are slightly different. New Zealanders like to elevate respected fellow countrymen and women with a title to their name. Many of those so elevated do not use their titles except in formal settings, and we like that too. Even formally, it is likely to be Sir “Richie”. We are fine with that.

That might be a sensible amendment.


– A newspaper

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.