Australia’s Honours System Remains Very Broken

Another year and January 26 ticks over again. Australia’s very flawed national holiday continues to be a source of division and disunity. Among the manifold aspects of this is the announcement of various honours.

Last year, the secretive process led to the far-right ‘men’s rights activist’ Bettina Arndt being honoured. The previous year in the Queen’s Birthday honours there was the inclusion of Professor Adrian Cheok, a candidate for a far-right political party and sex-robot advocate.

This year the award for right-wing extremism is going to former tennis player Margaret Court who is due to receive Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC). Ostensibly the award is for her previous tennis career but she had already been honoured in 2007 for this with an Officer of the Order of Australia, as well as receiving an MBE in 1967. Instead, Court’s status in recent years has been due to her multitude of attacks on LGBTQI people in her role as a Pentecostal minister.

The pattern is clear: the Australian honours system is being exploited on an annual basis to promote far right extremism. The peak of Court’s tennis career was in the early 1960s, for which she has received multiple honours, her profile recently has been specifically for campaigning against marriage equality and for campaigning against the civil rights of LGBTQI+ people.

13 thoughts on “Australia’s Honours System Remains Very Broken

      1. My immediate thought on that was ‘Wow, if McEnroe of all people is blasting her for being over the top…’

        Reading the article, I see the line ‘John McEnroe, not a fan, predictably was the most vocal…’ so I suspect I wasn’t alone in that reaction.

        And following the Twitter link in there to John McEnroe’s rant, where he asked Serena Williams to win two more Grand Slams to put Elizabeth Court off the record books, McEnroe himself joked about him being the biggest mouth in Tennis. His comment about whether or not Court would use the gender-neutral bathrooms at the stadium in Melbourne was good. “I’ll wait until I get home.” (Aside) “She lives in Perth.”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I started playing tennis after stopping decades ago last year since it was the most socially distanced sport besides golf, and I read McEnroe’s two autobiographies where he does indeed confirm that he’s selfish and not a very nice person.
        Serena is the GOAT tennis player. Even if she doesn’t win another slam, there is no comparing the quality and depth of competition that she faces compared to Margaret Court’s career, especially at the Australian Open which was poorly attended by top players from around the world until 1982 because of scheduling it right before Christmas and the difficulty of getting there. Most of her 11 AO wins were cakewalks.


      3. When McEnroe says you’ve gone too far… you are completely beyond the event horizon.

        Court in her prime couldn’t have beaten a teen or maybe even tween Serena. Or an adult Billie Jean King, or… probably most of the women playing today.


      4. King 1 – Court 2. I’m surprised they only played three times in four years (1969-1972), but that was before the WTA was founded in 1973. All their matches were in Grand Slam events.

        Of course, Court lost to Bobby Riggs while King beat him.

        Liked by 3 people

  1. Same thing here in Canada. Former premier Mike Harris was just awarded the Order of Ontario, although he is a widely reviled character who bears much of the blame for breaking the province in the privatization boom of the 1990s-2000s. You know the drill: attack unions, cut taxes, privatized all he could, including highway 407 and long-term care homes, slashed education and social services, demonized public servants, had a literal standoff with indigenous groups (one killed by sniper) etc. Quality of life and budget coffers still have not recovered from his tenure and that was 25 years ago.

    The nomination was especially egregious because he is currently president of a chain of long term private care homes which has seen horrendous levels of misery, poor service, neglect and deaths during the pandemic. Province had to call in the army to take over these homes last summer. hashtag [ # stop the senicide].

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good lord. Yeah, he was called ‘Mike the Knife’ for a reason.

      I’m in Toronto. Toronto took decades to recover from the amalgamation Harris forced on the city, some aspects still aren’t completely settled, and the supposed ‘cost savings’ are right up there in fantasy land with trickle-down economics. The two biggest line items on the budget, transit and police, already were amalgamated across the six municipalities, so no changes, and everything else had to deal with restructurings and in many cases pay increases.

      I remember talking to a local librarian when this was happening, and she pointed out that things were going to get messy: of the six different library systems in place at the time, four were unionized as part of CUPE, one was a different union of its own, and one was un-unionized. Merging those all into one system was a serious mess. Granted, the Judith Merril Collection (a.k.a. the Spaced Out Library, but try writing that on a grant request) actually liked the results: it went from them and the Osborne collection being the only two special research collections in the Toronto Public Library system, to there being several (including the old Metro Toronto Research Library) and getting a full director just for the research collections. (The Metro Toronto Reference Library hated it because they weren’t in full control of themselves anymore.)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Canada’s system has had its bright moments.

      See also the number of people who threatened (and a few actually followed through) on returning their Order of Canada the year that Dr. Henry Morgentaler was awarded it due to his work providing safe abortion services despite that being illegal at the time.


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