Even a traditional Liberal and dyed-in-the-wool royalist such as Colin Barnett has smirked at Tony Abbott’s decision to restore knights and dames in the Order of Australia.
Asked on talkback radio if he would accept a knighthood, the West Australian Premier said: “I don’t think I’ll face that dilemma.”
“Sir Colin – it’s got a nice ring to it, hasn’t it?” he laughed on Fairfax radio on Wednesday.
“As far as Western Australia is concerned, we’re not going to go down the knighthood path, as some states may choose to do.”
The WA Liberal leader’s love of the British royals is evident – beaming when the Queen attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth in 2011 and naming the new Elizabeth Quay development in her honour, earning it the nicknames “Betty’s Jetty” and the “Regina Marina” among locals.
“But … I think we’ve moved on. When people look back in history, the last vestiges of colonial history, you know, time to stand up Australia. Be a big country in your own right,” Mr Barnett said.
Mr Barnett said John Howard was “a red hot tip” for a knighthood.
Online bookmaker Sportsbet agrees, pricing the former prime minister as the $3 favourite to become a “sir” in 2014.
“John Howard is a very strong believer in the monarchy and I respect that,” Mr Barnett said.
Prominent Perth businesswoman and republican Janet Holmes a Court told ABC radio on Tuesday that people would think Mr Abbott’s decision was “some kind of joke” and must have come after he downed “a little bit too much red” the previous night.
“We will all wake up and think this is some kind of bad dream,” she said.