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Arndt's Order of Australia backlash over family murder comments

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The governor-general has referred complaints about men’s rights advocate Bettina Arndt receiving an Order of Australia to the body that co-ordinates the honours.

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A growing number of state and federal MPs are demanding Arndt be stripped of the honour after she made controversial comments about the domestic violence-related murders of Queensland mum Hannah Clarke, 31, and her three children aged under six.

David Hurley’s office has forwarded complaints he has received.

“In all matters relating to the Order of Australia, the governor-general acts on advice from and recommendations made by the Council for the Order of Australia,” his spokesman told AAP on Monday.

“Following this standard process, the governor-general has referred correspondence in relation to the appointment of Ms Arndt to the council.”

Victorian Labor Attorney-General Jill Hennessy, Liberal backbencher Tim Smith and Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson are among those who believe Arndt should be stripped of the honour.

Arndt attracted renewed scrutiny last week after congratulating Queensland police for “keeping an open mind” about the possibility that estranged husband Rowan Baxter, 42, may have been “driven too far” before killing Hannah and their children.

The detective inspector whose comments Arndt referred to stood aside from the investigation into the murders on Friday.

“These comments about a man who doused his wife and children with petrol and burnt them to death are abhorrent,” Senator Henderson posted on Twitter.

“I don’t believe the values which underpin Bettina Arndt’s views on this horrific family violence incident are consistent with her retaining her Order of Australia.”

Smith wrote to the chair of the Council of the Order of Australia on Sunday asking it to recommend cancelling Arndt’s honour “because of her comments that sought to excuse extreme violence”.

Federal Labor frontbencher Catherine King also believes she should lose the honour.

“The views she has expressed are inconsistent with the level of award,” she told reporters on Monday.

Queensland coalition MP Luke Howarth also condemned Arndt’s comments, telling reporters they were “outrageous”, while Liberal backbencher Dave Sharma described them as “repulsive” and “abhorrent”.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson described the murders last week as a ‘”horrendous act” but said Arndt should keep her award.

“She is clearly stating what she thinks and what a police officer said,” she told Nine’s Today Show.

Hanson said she hoped an ongoing Senate inquiry into family law would help determine why people like Baxter commit such heinous crimes.

“A lot of people are driven to this, to do these acts, for one reason or another,” she said.

“Hopefully the family law inquiry will get to the bottom of it, but don’t bastardise all men out there, or women for that matter, because these things happen.”

Arndt was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for “significant service to the community as a social commentator, and to gender equity through advocacy for men”.

-AAP

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