A new honour for pre-eminent Australians
On my recommendation, Her Majesty the Queen has amended the Letters Patent constituting the Order of Australia.
Knights and Dames in the Order of Australia will be approved by Her Majesty on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
There may be up to four Knights or Dames created in any year.
This special recognition may be extended to Australians of “extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit” in their service to Australia or to humanity at large.
Henceforth, the serving Governor-General will be the principal Knight or Dame in the Order of Australia.
The first new Dame will be the outgoing Governor-General.
The first new Knight will be the incoming Governor-General.
It is fitting that the Queen’s representative be so honoured.
Invariably, Governors-General have been extraordinary and pre-eminent servants of the Australian people.
My intention is that this new award will go to those who have accepted public office rather than sought it; and who can never, by virtue of the office they have held, entirely return to private life.
The Chairman of the Order of Australia Council will be consulted on any such recommendation.
This change will not affect existing Companions, Officers or Members of the Order of Australia.
I congratulate Her Excellency the Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO and the Governor-General Designate, General Peter Cosgrove AC MC, on this acknowledgement of their service to our country.
25 March 2014