The Daily Telegraph
PRIME Minister Tony Abbott’s quirky segue into the quaint realm of official orders caught many by surprise. But the howls of derision from the opposition benches and the usual clattering of Labor acolytes within the ABC and Fairfax media were as hypocritical as they were confected.
Leading the charge in the lower house was former Labor attorney-general Mark Dreyfus,
QC, who looked more like an agitated articled clerk as he indignantly bobbed up and down.
This would be the same Mark Dreyfus, who, according to reports from Melbourne, was “very eager” to be appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1999, before the title was dropped and changed to Senior Counsel in 2000.
BLOG WITH PIERS AKERMAN
While a spokeswoman for the shadow attorney-general told a Fairfax reporter it was wrong to suggest that Dreyfus had rushed to be appointed a Queen’s Counsel before the honour became unattainable, he did apply four times to become a QC before finally getting the nod in September, 1999.
In fact he was apparently the second-last barrister to be appointed a QC in Victoria before the guillotine fell on the Bar’s aristocratic title and they were forced to take the boringly comradely SC.
He now finds himself torn between the reality of politics and the possibility that he may one day have to return to the Bar and hang his shingle again.
As he told Sky News: “Now I’m in politics and what I might be doing would be for political reasons. For me it was a commercial decision to leave it as QC because I thought it was something people identified with.”
He is by no means the only Labor politician to have preferred to hang on to the commercially valuable QC honorific while espousing republican views.
Former foreign minister Gareth Evans still identifies as a QC, as did many distinguished Labor politicians who preached republicanism while taking silk, among them such notables as former Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam, former NSW premier Neville Wran and the former NSW attorney-general Jeff Shaw.
Interestingly, even such radical activists as the ABC’s favourite illegal arrivals advocate Julian Burnside did not eschew the honour of being a QC. Even the almost universal anathema displayed toward knighthoods by the media did not dissuade Ten’s left-leaning Canberra correspondent Paul Bongiorno from accepting an Italian knighthood.
The former Roman Catholic priest told the ABC yesterday: “You can call me Cavaliere because I am a Knight of the Italian Republic and, actually, thanks to John Howard. I won’t go into all of that but at least it is an Italian republic.”
So he’s happy to accept a knighthood so long as it from a foreign republic.
There are Australians with Papal knighthoods and others from other religious orders. France also bestows honours upon worthy Australians, not least being NSW Governor Marie Bashir, who will receive the Officier de la Légion D’honneur in Sydney on May 26.
While Liberal republican Malcolm Turnbull tried to gently mock the notion of restoring such honours by mentioning a number of South American nations which confer knighthoods, the former governor-general Dame Quentin Bryce’s ready acceptance of her new title strikes many as hypocritical.
Dame Quentin set a new standard for vice-regal clothing and logged record air miles, not least during her $700,000 African safari in search of stray UN votes.
Not so much Dame Nellie Melba, perhaps, as Dame Edna Everage.
BROCK SHOCK FAVOURS MINORITY
SOUTH Australians should beware as their government embraces the Brocky Horror Show. Not learning from the lessons of disastrous minority government from either Tasmania or Canberra, independent Geoff Brock has thrown his support behind Premier Jay Weatherill to return an incompetent Labor government to power.
With the help of federal independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, Julia Gillard’s dysfunctional Labor-independent-Green minority government introduced both the disastrous carbon tax and the worthless mining tax.
They voted with the Rudd government to give the nation the uncosted, unassessed NBN, then voted to establish the extensive marine park system foisted on the nation by multinational organisations and they supported crippling restrictions on commercial fishing. They opposed the opposition’s efforts to get Gillard to apologise for breaking her carbon tax promise. They opposed the opposition’s attempts to get some explanation of Labor’s proposed Malaysian people-swap plan.
Windsor is even now trying to revise his record by posting the false claim “that a price on carbon was a prerequisite of the formation of government”. It was not.
Brock, who represents the electorate of Frome with a large and conservative rural constituency as well as the industrial and Labor-voting community of Port Pirie, says he has the best interests of the state at heart. Premier Weatherill has rewarded him with a ministry. Whose best interests are being served?