Tuesday, 27 January 2015
In which Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott blunders by knighting Prince Phillip and then discounts the public reaction on social media because “it's anonymous”. As anonymous as the votes cast by secret ballot at the next federal general election in 2016?
ABC News 26 January 2014:
Some of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's most senior colleagues are bewildered, angered and dismayed by his decision to award an Australian knighthood to Prince Philip.
Prince Philip and former Defence Force chief Angus Houston were named Australia's newest knights today, under an honours system reinstated by Mr Abbott last year.
Cabinet ministers have told the ABC the Prime Minister did not consult any of the leadership group before announcing the move.
Mr Abbott agreed it was a "captain's call", saying he consulted only with Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Order of Australia chairman Sir Angus.
Ministers said they would have opposed the knighthood, if asked.
One described it as a "stupid" decision that would make the Government an object of ridicule.
Another said the Prime Minister's colleagues were willing him to succeed, but he had started the year badly and had made the job of trying to lift Coalition's electoral credibility just that much harder.
"There is an old saying that when you are in a hole you should stop digging," one minister said.
"Well, we've just punched through the Earth's crust."
Another Coalition MP said the move reinforced the left-wing caricature of the Prime Minister: the appointment harked to Australia's past and the opportunity of making a positive statement about the future on the national day had been squandered.
The move to award an Australian knighthood to the Queen's husband has also been criticised by republicans, with former Western Australia premier Geoff Gallop calling it a "sad reflection" on Australia.
And it drew fire on social media from commentators including Canberra press gallery veteran Laurie Oakes, who tweeted: "Libs must wonder who can help a PM apparently determined to be seen as a joke. #jokeknighthood".
Answering questions about the decision at an Australia Day event in Canberra today, Mr Abbott said he was "really pleased" the Queen had accepted his recommendations on the knighthoods and added that whilst the Duke had not called to say thank you for the honour, he did not "expect gratitude".
And he said social media criticism of the move was akin to "electronic graffiti".
"I think that in the media, you make a big mistake to pay too much attention to social media. You wouldn't report what's sprayed up on the walls of buildings and look, as I said, social media has its place, but it's anonymous," he told reporters……
The Age online opinion poll 26 January 2014 at approx. 10.30pm