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Official Biography Of Major-General Michael Jeffery

Major-General Michael Jeffery, the former Governor of Western Australia, is to be Australia’s 24th Governor-General, replacing Peter Hollingworth.

Major-General Jeffery will be sworn into the position in the Senate chamber on August 11. The Governor of Tasmania, Sir Guy Green, will continue to act as Administrator of the Commonwealth until that time.


Jeffery will be the first Australian-born Governor-General with a background as a full-time military officer. Sir William Slim was the last Governor-General from the ranks of the military.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, made the announcement at a press conference this afternoon.

Major-General Jeffery was Governor of Western Australia from 1993 until 2000. His official biography says:

Major General Philip Michael Jeffery was born in Wiluna, Western Australia, in 1937 and was educated at Cannington and East Victoria Park State Schools and Kent Street High School.

At age 16, General Jeffery left Perth to attend the Royal Military College, Duntroon. After graduation in 1958, he served in a number of junior regimental appointments with 17 National Service Training Company and the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) in Perth. He was posted to Malaya in 1962 for operational service with the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment.

In 1964 he was appointed Aide-de-Camp to the Chief of the General Staff after which he was seconded to the British SASR for an operational tour of duty in Borneo. He returned to Australia as Adjutant of the SASR in Perth.

From 1966-69 he served in Papua New Guinea with 1st Battalion, The Pacific Islands Regiment and was married during this posting to Marlena Kerr of Manly, Sydney. This was followed by a tour of Vietnam as an infantry company commander with the 8th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment. It was during this tour that he was awarded the Military Cross and the South Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

In 1972 he was selected to attend the British Army Staff College at Camberley and was then promoted Lieutenant Colonel to command the 2nd Battalion, The Pacific Islands Regiment. In 1975, he assumed command of the SASR in Perth and was then promoted to Colonel as the first Director of the Army’s Special Action Forces, for services to which he became a Member of the Order of Australia.

From 1981-83 he headed Australia’s national counter terrorist co-ordination authority in the rank of Brigadier, after which he was posted as Commander of the 1st Mechanised and Airborne Brigade in Holsworthy, Sydney.

He was selected to attend the Royal College of Defence Studies in London in 1985 and was then promoted Major General and appointed to command the Army’s 15,000 man 1st Division.

In June 1988, he became an Officer of the Order of Australia for his services to the Army and in 1989 he was appointed as the Assistant Chief of the General Staff – Logistics. In January 1990 he became Deputy Chief of the General Staff, responsible for the day to day running of a 65,000 man Army. In February 1991 he was appointed Assistant Chief of the General Staff for Materiel which involved the development and management of some 600 Army equipment procurement and building construction projects valued at $3bn.

On 1 November 1993, he was sworn in as the 27th Governor of Western Australia, and in June 1996 became a Companion of the Order of Australia for his services to the State of Western Australia.

The Governor and his wife, Marlena, have four adult children and a grandson from their married daughter. Two of their sons, Craig and David, are serving Army Officers, as is their married daughter, Sarah. Son Simon is an engineer. Both the Governor and his wife are enthusiastic golfers. He is a keen fisherman, Australian Rules football and cricket fan, and enjoys reading and music.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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