Sex therapist Bettina Arndt’s legion of critics have been warned to back off by former Liberal Party president and the chair of the Order of Australia awards, Shane Stone, because “external pressure or lobbying” will not determine if her award is rescinded.
Despite the Coalition and the Labor Party joining in the Senate to support a bipartisan motion calling for the council to strip Ms Arndt of her award, Mr Stone’s first public comments on the controversy have struck a defiant note.
But it also sends a message to Ms Arndt’s supporters too, who she has also urged to bombard MPs and the council with letters of support.
The Governor-General and the Order of Australia Council has received hundreds of letters complaining about Ms Arndt after she angered critics by backing calls for police to keep an open mind on whether killer dad Rowan Baxter, who burned alive his wife and three children, had been “driven too far”.
But Mr Stone said the council would consider the matter in the normal, methodical way.
Mr Stone is a former Northern Territory chief minister and Liberal Party president who famously wrote the “mean, tricky and out of touch” memo on the challenges the Howard government faced in 2001, before it leaked to the media.
“There is a standard process when consideration is given to terminating an appointment or cancelling an award in the Order of Australia. This is followed in all cases,” Mr Stone said.
“In practice, the Governor-General does not act on any matter relating to the Order of Australia other than on the advice of the council.
“The council, which comprises representatives of each state and territory and community representatives, will consider the correspondence that it has received in a methodical way.
“It is important to note that the council’s consideration of any individual matter is based on factual information and not by external pressure or lobbying.”
Mr Stone declined to give a timeframe for the considerations.
“At the conclusion of our consideration, the council will inform the member of the outcome,” Mr Stone said.