Governors-General Since 1901

There have been twenty-six Australian Governors-General since 1901.

The Governor-General is officially appointed by the Queen as Head of State. In practice, early Governors-General were appointed by the United Kingdom’s Colonial Secretary. The appointment is now made solely on the recommendation of the Australian prime minister of the day. The Governor-General is usually offered a 5-year term upon appointment.

Sir Isaac Isaacs was the first Australian-born Governor-General. His appointment by Labor Prime Minister Scullin in 1930 was reluctantly agreed to by King George V, who wanted to appoint Field Marshal Sir William Birdwood. This was an important turning point in Australian control over the appointment.

There have been five former Australian politicians appointed Governor-General: Isaacs (Protectionist), McKell (ALP), Casey (Liberal), Hasluck (Liberal) and Hayden (ALP). In addition, Lord Dudley, Lord Stonehaven, Lord Dunrossil and Lord De L’Isle were active in British politics.

High Court judges and senior military officers have also dominated the vice-regal appointment.

Quentin Bryce (2008-14) is the only woman to have held the post.

The longest-serving Governor-General was Lord Gowrie, who held the position for nine years (1936-45). The second-longest-serving was Bill Hayden, who held the post for seven years (1989-96).

The shortest-serving Governor-General was Viscount Dunrossil, who died in 1961, just one year and one day after taking office. He is the only Governor-General to have died in office.

With four selections, Prime Minister Robert Menzies holds the record for the greatest number of vice-regal apppointments. Deakin, Fraser and Howard each made two appointments, whilst fifteen prime ministers made one appointment each.

Nine prime ministers – Watson, Reid, Page, Fadden, Forde, Holt, McEwen, McMahon and Gillard – made no vice-regal appointments. If he is still prime minister in 2019, Malcolm Turnbull is likely to choose the next Governor-General.

Australian Governors-General Since 1901
No. Name Commenced Office Left
Office
Term Appointed by
1.
John Adrian Louis, Earl of Hopetoun
01 Jan 1901
09 Jan 1903
2 years, 8 days
2.
Hallam, Baron Tennyson
09 Jan 1903
21 Jan 1904
1 year, 12 days
Barton
3.
Henry Stafford, Baron Northcote
21 Jan 1904
09 Sep 1908
4 years, 6 months, 19 days
Deakin
4.
William Humble, Earl of Dudley
09 Sep 1908
03 Jul 1911
2 years, 9 months, 24 days
Deakin
5.
Thomas, Baron Denman
31 Jul 1911
18 May 1914
2 years, 9 months, 18 days
Fisher
6.
Sir Ronald Crauford Munro-Ferguson
18 May 1914
06 Oct 1920
6 years, 4 months, 18 days
Cook
7.
Henry William, Baron Forster of Lepe
06 Oct 1920
08 Oct 1925
5 years, 2 days
Hughes
8.
John Lawrence, Baron Stonehaven
08 Oct 1925
22 Jan 1931
5 years, 3 months, 14 days
Bruce
9.
Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs
22 Jan 1931
23 Jan 1936
5 years, 1 day
Scullin
10.
Brigadier General Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven, Baron Gowrie
23 Jan 1936
30 Jan 1945
9 years, 7 days
Lyons
11.
Prince Henry William Frederick Albert, Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster and Baron Culloden
30 Jan 1945
11 Mar 1947
2 years, 1 month, 11 days
Curtin
12.
Sir William John McKell
11 Mar 1947
08 May 1953
6 years, 1 month, 27 days
Chifley
13.
Field Marshall Sir William Joseph Slim
08 May 1953
02 Feb 1960
6 years, 8 months, 25 days
Menzies
14.
William Shepherd, Viscount Dunrossil
02 Feb 1960
03 Feb 1961
Died in office
1 year, 1 day
Menzies
15.
William Philip, Viscount De L’Isle
03 Aug 1961
22 Sep 1965
4 years, 1 month, 19 days
Menzies
16.
Richard Gardiner, Baron Casey
22 Sep 1965
30 Apr 1969
3 years, 7 months, 8 days
Menzies
17.
Sir Paul Hasluck
30 Apr 1969
11 Jul 1974
5 years, 2 months, 11 days
Gorton
18.
Sir John Robert Kerr
11 Jul 1974
08 Dec 1977
3 years, 4 months, 27 days
Whitlam
19.
Sir Zelman Cowen
08 Dec 1977
29 Jul 1982
4 years, 7 months, 21 days
Fraser
20.
Sir Ninian Martin Stephen
29 Jul 1982
15 Feb 1989
6 years, 6 months, 17 days
Fraser
21.
William George (Bill) Hayden
16 Feb 1989
15 Feb 1996
7 years
Hawke
22.
Sir William Patrick Deane
16 Feb 1996
28 June 2001
5 years, 4 months, 12 days
Keating
23.
Archbishop Peter Hollingworth
29 June 2001
28 May 2003
1 year, 10 months, 29 days
Howard
24.
Major-General Michael Jeffery
11 Aug 2003
05 Sept 2008
5 years, 24 days
Howard
25.
Dame Quentin Bryce
05 Sept 2008
28 Mar 2014
5 years, 6 months, 23 days
Rudd
26.
General Sir Peter Cosgrove
28 Mar 2014
3 years, 3 months, 23 days
Abbott

 

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