Abbott’s right royal knighthood stuff-up

Written By komlim puldel on Senin, 26 Januari 2015 | 20.01

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says the decision to make Prince Philip a knight is 'anachronistic'.

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott's judgment is being questioned by his Liberal colleagues, who say his decision to bestow a knighthood on Prince Philip was a serious mistake.

The surprise move was made by Mr Abbott alone and not passed through his Cabinet.

Liberals who spent the day at Australia Day events were met with derision and surprise from voters, who questioned the decision to give Australia's highest honour to a decorated 93-year-old British royal.

"The feedback is horrendous,'' one Liberal MP, a supporter of Mr Abbott, told the Herald Sun.

PRINCE'S KNIGHTHOOD APPROVED BY ABBOTT'S ONLY OTHER KNIGHT

SHAUN CARNEY: PRINCE PHILIP'S KNIGHTHOOD INSULTS ALL AUSTRALIANS

EDITORIAL: KNIGHTING PRINCE PHILIP IS A MISTAKE

ABBOTT STANDS BY KNIGHTHOOD DECISION

The announcement overshadowed the knighthood bestowed on former Defence Force chief Angus Houston, who was honoured for his leadership, particularly during the MH370 and MH17 disasters.

It also intensified concerns for Liberals, who are starting to doubt Mr Abbott's ability to reverse the Government's poor poll standing.

While no one is doing the numbers, increasingly anxious MPs were working the phones trying to think of a way to get the Government back on track.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Prince Philip in Bayeux, France, last June. Picture: AP

Several told the Herald Sun they did not believe the Government could continue to veer off-message for long.

One committed Abbott supporter said he initially did not believe the news of Prince Philip's knighthood.

He said the announcement derailed the Government's efforts to focus to negotiating its legislation through the Senate.

Another said MPs were so angry at the "ridiculous'' decision they would pass their feedback through official channels to the Prime Minister's Office.

A backbencher, who said he had spoken to Mr Abbott last week as the PM made a round of calls to soothe frazzled nerves, had made "all the right noises'' about focusing on Budget measures to reduce debt levels inherited from Labor.

"But here we are talking about ourselves again,'' he said.

Several Coalition MPs went public with their concerns.

The Nationals' Darren Chester said he had wanted to spend the day talking about Australian of the Year, anti-family violence advocate Rosie Batty.

"I'm disappointed to be talking about this (Prince Philip),'' he said.

Queensland Liberal Ewen Jones criticised the knighthood, saying only those appointed to the role of Governor-General should be named a knight or a dame.

Mr Abbott, an avowed monarchist, defended his decision, saying Prince Philip was "eminently suitable''.

"Prince Philip has been a great servant of Australia,'' the PM said.

"Here in this country, he's the patron of hundreds of organisations.

"I'm just really pleased that in his 90s, towards the end of a life of service and duty, we in this country are able to properly acknowledge what he's done for us.''

Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who 24 hours earlier called for a new debate on the republic, said he had no beef with Prince Philip, but couldn't understand why Mr Abbott did not choose a worthy Australian instead.

"It's a question of the priorities of this Government, and who they think makes a good Australian,'' he said.

PRINCE PHILIP: SIR GAFFE-A-LOT

To Aboriginal leader William Brin: "Do you still throw spears at each other?"

To a native woman in Kenya: "You are a woman, aren't you?

To a British student in China: "If you stay here much longer you'll go home with slitty eyes."

To black politician Lord Taylor of Warwick: "And what exotic part of the world do you come from?"

To a tourist in Budapest: "You can't have been here long, you haven't got a pot belly."

At a party in 2004: "Bugger the table plan, give me my dinner!"

To a 13-year-old boy: "You could do with losing a little bit of weight."

To a nursing home resident in a wheelchair: "Do people trip over you?"

To a penniless student: "Why don't you go and live in a hostel to save cash?"

On women in general: "I don't think a prostitute is more moral than a wife, but they are doing the same thing."

ellen.whinnett@news.com.au

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