Knights and Dames are being reintroduced to the Order of Australia honours list.
Outgoing governor-general Quentin Bryce and her successor Peter Cosgrove will be the first the receive the titles.
The Queen has amended the letters patent for the Order of Australia to allow for the new honours, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Tuesday.
The new category will recognise pre-eminent Australians.
Up to four knights or dames will be able to be appointed each year.
The titles will go to people who have accepted public office rather than sought it and for their service to Australia or to humanity at large.
“I believe this is an important grace note in our national life,” Abbott told reporters.
It’s important to honour people’s extraordinary service, he said.
Politicians would not be exempted from becoming knights or dames, with Abbott saying he didn’t want to pre-empt who may be considered worthy of the honour.
“Suffice to say, there can only be four of them in any one year, so it will be a very select honour,” he said.
The chairman of the Order of Australia Council will be consulted on any such recommendation.
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