Joyce bows to return of the knights

NEW England MP Barnaby Joyce has “got no real problems” with Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s controversial decision last week to reinstate knights and dames to the country’s honours list.

Mr Joyce, a self-confessed monarchist, said the Prime Minister’s plan to resurrect the imperial honours, which were scrapped in the mid-’80s, would reward people who have devoted their lives to the betterment of the country.

“I’m happy that if someone has served St Vincent de Paul for 40 years, or served the Salvation Army, or they’ve done their bit for the local community ... then to get recognition on their behalf is a good thing,” he said.

“I don’t think anybody is unhappy that Peter Cosgrove – a Military Cross (recipient), a person who led the troops in East Timor, who served our nation in Vietnam – has got himself a knighthood.

“I think everybody would say, if there’s one person in our nation who deserves it, it’s probably Peter Cosgrove.”

The Australian Republican Movement’s national director David Morris said the announcement had inadvertently given their campaign “a big shot in the arm”.

But Mr Joyce dismissed criticisms that reintroducing such titles was a throwback to our colonial past and said he was more than content for Australia to remain a monarchy.

“I’m a monarchist and I know this is an issue that divides ... families, but I’m quite happy with the constitutional system of government that we’ve got,” he said.

“I believe it has given us a form of peace and prosperity over a long period of time which means I can’t quite think of a good reason to change it.

“I’m happy with the constitution in the form that we have it. I’m happy with the flag in the form that we’ve got it and I’m very proud of where my nation is.”

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