Independent board to consider rescinding Bettina Arndt’s Order of Australia honour

The office of Governor-General David Hurley has confirmed Bettina Arndt’s honour will be considered. Photos: Facebook/AAP

Sex therapist Bettina Arndt could be stripped of her Order of Australia after she applauded police for keeping an open mind on whether a Brisbane man who doused his estranged wife and three children with petrol and burned them alive could have been “driven too far” by the divorce.

The Governor-General’s office has confirmed to The New Daily it has received correspondence calling for the honour to be rescinded and this will now be considered by the independent board that hands out the awards.

Ms Arndt, 70, was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2020 Australia Day Honours “for significant service to the community as a social commentator, and to gender equity through advocacy for men”.

But a storm of controversy has erupted since she received the award, with critics pointing not only to her recent comments but to previous remarks that a scoutmaster who sexually abused boys was “a good bloke” and said “such minor abuse rarely has lasting consequences”.

She has previously accused a teenage girl, who was abused by a teacher, of behaving in a manner that was “sexually provocative”.

On Friday, she took to Twitter in support of Queensland detective Mark Thompson, who was taken off the case after saying investigators had an open mind on whether Queensland man Rowan Baxter may have been “driven too far” before he doused his family in petrol and set them alight.

“Congratulations to the Queensland police for keeping an open mind and awaiting proper evidence, including the possibility that Rowan Baxter might have been ‘driven too far’,’’ Ms Arndt tweeted.

“But note the misplaced outrage. How dare police deviate from the feminist script of seeking excuses and explanations when women stab their partners to death, or drive their children into dams but immediately judging a man in these circumstances as simply representing the evil violence that is in all men.”

After the police officer stood aside from the case and revealed he was “gutted” about his phrasing, Ms Arndt doubled down on the argument on social media.

The office of Governor-General David Hurley has confirmed to The New Daily that complaints have been lodged about her award and the calls for it to be rescinded are being considered.

“When the Governor-General receives correspondence – including requests to terminate or cancel an award – it is referred to the Council for the Order of Australia for advice and action,’’ the spokesperson said.

“Following this standard process, the Governor-General has referred correspondence in relation to the appointment of Ms Arndt to the Council.”

The Governor-General’s office refused to reveal who had nominated Ms Arndt for the award.

“We do not discuss or provide details of individual nominations,” he said.

“In all matters relating to the Order of Australia, the Governor-General acts on advice from and recommendations made by the Council for the Order of Australia.

“The Prime Minister has policy responsibility for Australian honours and awards, and this is presently delegated to the Honourable Ben Morton MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

“The Australian honours system operates independently of government, with deliberative bodies making their recommendations directly to the Governor-General.”

The New Daily contacted Mr Morton for comment and he declined to offer a view on Ms Arndt’s remarks.

Senate leader Mathias Cormann, who sits on the board that awards the Order of Australia honours, was not at the meeting that signed off on Ms Arndt’s award. He declined to comment on whether she should be stripped of the award.

Victorian Liberal MP Tim Smith has argued the comments “bring disrepute on the Order” and revealed he had written to the chair of the Council for the Order of Australia to formally ask the council to advise the Governor-General to cancel the honour.

“This is not a left-versus-right issue, this is not a Labor-versus-Liberal issue,” Mr Smith told The New Daily.

“This is a right-versus-wrong issue.

“Anyone who seeks to justify, explain or rationalise why a man would commit mass murder by incinerating his three little kids and their mum in a car is wrong.”


The chair of the Order of Australia awards is former Liberal president Shane Stone, who The New Daily has contacted for comment.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy and former Australian of the Year Rosie Batty are among those who have called for Ms Arndt’s award to be cancelled.

Ms Arndt has a long history of controversy.

In 1997, she defended a doctor who had molested a 12-year-old child, arguing he should not be charged because in another context masturbation would have been “a loving and pleasurable act”.

She first rose to fame in the 1970s writing for Playboy and Forum, an Australian adult sex education magazine.

Ms Arndt completed a thesis on “orgasm dysfunction” to secure a Master of Psychology in 1973 but is not a practising or accredited psychologist.

She also previously ran a mail-order lingerie and sex toy business and penned The Bettina Arndt Guide to Lovemaking for Women, where she complained men were being bossed around in the bedroom.

“Looking at what’s happening to men and women in bed today, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if more and more males chose to stick to their beer. Sex is fast becoming a battlefield, with women calling more of the shots,” she said.

Most recently she has helped men pen dating profiles and acted as a “dating coach” and continues to offer referrals on her website for men looking for “good photographers” for their online dating profiles.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressed that the awards were completely independent and not vetted or vetoed by his office.

“The Governor-General, as Chancellor of the Order, makes decisions about awards in the Order of Australia based on recommendations made by the Council for the Order of Australia. These are not decisions of the government,” he said.

“The council is an independent body that operates on the principles of independence and freedom from political patronage.

“The Council comprises eight state and territory representatives, eight community representatives appointed on the Australian government’s recommendation and three public office holders.”