Mr Abbott originally announced in March 2014 that the Order of Australia would once again contain knights and dames, and that four titles could be bestowed each year.
He said that the honour would be reserved for Australians of “extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit”.
But the Australia Day 2015 appointments caused some shock, even within the ranks of the Liberal party, when Mr Abbott named Pope Francis as a recipient of the award.
“His Holiness has done some fine work for the world’s poor and I think it’s important that we recognise that,” Mr Abbott stated yesterday.
“Plus, he’s really good at wearing that huge hat. I don’t know whether it’s because he’s got a huge head or just really good poise but it’s never fallen off once.”
Even members of Mr Abbott’s own party have been unsettled by the move. When asked about the knighthood, National Party frontbencher Michael McCormack seemed to distance himself from the issue.
“Tony Abbott? Who’s that? A what-hood? Sorry, you’ll have to ask someone else: I’m not very political and I’m late for my Lamaze class.”
Conservative commentator Andrew Bolt was left literally speechless, giving an interview on radio station 2GB composed entirely of silence.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten disrupted a press conference today to deliver one of his now trademarked ZingersTM.
“Only Mr Abbott would knight a bishop. That’s political checkmate in anyone’s book! Zing!TM”
His Holiness expressed surprise at the appointment but seemed to accept it with his customary humility.
“Non so il signor Abbott ma suona come una specie di idiota,” he is reported to have remarked.
It’s understood that Mr Abbott had further plans to give knighthoods to Santa Claus (for services to children), Coal (for services to the Australian economy) and the Sun (for services to the world) but that the Sun’s award is pending review as it may run counter to the Liberals’ environmental Direct Action Plan.
“There’s also the issue of whether the Sun would get a knighthood or a damehood,” Mr Abbott commented.
“As Minister for Astrosexology, amongst other things, that’s up to me to work out.”
Mr Shorten had no problem offering his view on the question.
“Only Mr Abbott would try to night the Sun. Zing!TM”