People reading my blog are going to surmise after a while that despite my libertarian convictions, I am pretty conservative on a lot of things, if not downright reactionary.
For example, as a property owner and a ratepayer, it appalls me that mere tenants are able to vote in local government elections. I consider this as ‘representation without taxation’, and I blame this to some extent for the appalling size of my council rates bill.
I also would like to see reform of the state upper house. It needs to return to representing the propertied classes, ie people like me who own their own homes and pay property taxes, rather than the Hoi Polloi. Home owners need constitutional protection from those who might tax the roof over my head out of existence.
Given that I think this way, you would not be surprised that I was quite disappointed when Tony Abbott was forced to back down on the reintroduction of knighthoods under the Order of Australia a few years ago. The Federal Government had abandoned imperial honours on the election of Hawke in 1983 and the last state based knighthoods went out the window with the election in Queensland of a Labor government in 1989.
Of course, I would go further than just conferrals under the Order of Australia. I would like to see knight bachelors awarded, and knighthoods under the Orders of the British Empire, the Bath, and St Michael and St George. Those are the sorts of imperial honours we used to give out.
Which is a way of segueing to my favourite local MP (well, what else can I say given that I put most of the others very low on my ballot), the Hon Bernie Finn, who has represented the Western Melbourne Region in the Victorian Upper House since 2006. He recently celebrated a cumulative total of 20 years in parliament, when you add in the 7 years he spent in the lower house as member for Tullamarine back in the 1990s.
He is more colourful and visible than most upper house MPs (he used to have an office in Sunshine next door to a bar I used to frequent, but this is a mere happy coincidence), and there are people out there who have chronicled his career with more detail than I can:
I believe that when Mr Finn retires from his seat, either from wearying of representing the 20% of people in the area who voted for him, or forcibly from being denied endorsement by misguided grassroots members of his own party to run for a fifth consecutive term, he requires suitable recognition.
As a precedent, I will cite what happened after his fellow Liberal, Clem Newton-Brown Esquire lost the lower house seat of Prahran several years ago after one term. Mr Newton-Brown was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the Australia Day Honours for ‘Services to the Victorian Parliament’.
If a backbencher can get awarded the OAM for one single term in the Parliament (and there are many who have not gotten any honours at all), then what should someone get who has served for over twenty years and six terms in total?
I think a knighthood is in order. Of course, not an AK, as they are too prestigious and should be reserved for Governors-General, High Court Justices, and commanders of the defence forces. But a lower order knighthood, like a KBE or perhaps a Knight Bachelor (ie one without membership of a particular order), might be an appropriate recognition for his lengthy service. After all, we have the Newton-Brown precedent to abide by.