Prime Minister Tony Abbott may have dismissed the social media criticism of his decision to award Prince Philip an Australian knighthood as the bleating of so much “electronic graffiti”, but it’s the newspaper editorials he has to worry about this morning. A survey of editorials in the country’s leading papers finds none that endorsed Abbott’s captain’s pick:

  • The Australian, under the headline “A decision lacking leadership”: “Another captain’s pick like this and there might be mutiny.”
  • The Sydney Morning Herald said the pick was good for Bill Shorten: “It was a cringe-worthy decision to reward Prince Philip with the recently created Australian knighthood, not because he is unworthy  of recognition — his support for the Duke of Edinburgh leadership scheme plays a key role in the development of so many young Australians — but rather because it sends a disturbing signal about modern Australia.”
  • The Herald Sun bemoaned the controversy: “It is a great shame that the well deserved knighting of Sir Angus has been overshadowed by controversy surrounding Mr Abbott’s decision to also recommend that the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, be knighted.”
  • The Age was resolute, headlining its editorial “The Duke should not be a knight of our realm”: “It is almost impossible to fathom Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s justification for naming Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, as a Knight of the Order of Australia … The sooner this nation is rid of this anachronistic nonsense, the better.”
  • The Daily Telegraph pulled no punches, labelling the knighthood “ludicrous”. While endorsing Abbott’s comments on the monarchy and social media, the paper stated that “the knighthood itself was a very poor decision. It gains no ground for the government and only invites ridicule. This government is in a position where every step must be a winning move. It has no political capital to waste.”
  • The Courier-Mail, under the headline “National day royally hijacked by Abbott”: “On the day we should be celebrating Australia’s national identity, maturely debating the meaning of the day, and honouring those citizens among us who have made a noteworthy contribution to our country, we were instead dragged by our elected leader into a cultural cringe so remarkable that it is almost beyond comprehension.”
  • The Advertiser accuses Abbott of failing to learn from his mistakes: “Yesterday’s announcement was flabbergasting. It shows that not only is Tony Abbott prone to poor decision making, but this is a shocking example of failing to learn from the mistakes of the past.”
  • The Australian Financial Review, meanwhile, focussed on firmly reminding Abbott to focus on the repair of the nation’s finances. But it did mention the knighthood in passing, calling it an “indulgent captain’s choice”.

Peter Fray

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