Ordered around

The Queen’s Birthday Honours List. The best excuse to become a republic. And soon. Despite the archaic honours, this year sees a handful of worthy winners. Phillip Knightley is one of this country’s finest journalistic exports. He made his name working on the London Times from the early 1960s, before the days of Rupert Murdoch. Knightley has been a supporter of my work and an early proponent of my current book on Israel/Palestine.

I interviewed him last year. He is a fierce critic of much contemporary journalism. One of his biggest complaints is the increasingly cosy relationship between journalists and politicians:

“The Canberra press gallery has too incestuous a relationship with politicians. Any journalist who makes too big a wave runs the risk of being cut off the loop. The only person who would take a major risk is someone who is not afraid of losing their job or access. The clever press officer working for departments, often to their shame, ex-journalists, have ways of rewarding journalists who come along and punishing those who don’t.”

He likes reading Margo Kingston, Alan Ramsey and Paul Kelly.

Another Order of Australia is Stuart Rees, founder of the Sydney Peace Prize. I got to know Rees during the Hanan Ashrawi affair in 2003. He defended the Palestinian advocate proudly.

I’m sure both men are thrilled with this regal honour.

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