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Governors-General Since 1901

There have been twenty-seven Governors-General of the Commonwealth of Australia 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.

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Australian-Born Governors-General

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.

After Isaacs, McKell and Slim were Australians. Every Governor-General since Lord Casey has been Australian-born.

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Former Politicians

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.

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Jurists

Three former High Court Justices have been appointed Governor-General: Isaacs, Stephen and Deane.

Sir John Kerr was Chief Justice of New South Wales, whilst Sir Zelman Cowen was a legal academic.

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Military appointments

Four Australian-born governors-general had military backgrounds: Slim, Jeffery, Cosgrove and Hurley.

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Women

Quentin Bryce (2008-14) is the only woman to have held the post. She was appointed by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

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Longest- and Shortest-Serving

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.

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Prime Ministerial Appointments

With four selections, Prime Minister Robert Menzies holds the record for the greatest number of vice-regal apppointments.

Three prime ministers each made two appointments: Deakin, Fraser and Howard.

Sixteen prime ministers made one appointment each: Barton, Fisher, Cook, Hughes, Bruce, Scullin, Lyons, Curtin, Chifley, Gorton, Whitlam, Hawke, Keating, Rudd, Abbott and Morrison.

Ten prime ministers made no vice-regal appointments: Watson, Reid, Page, Fadden, Forde, Holt, McEwen, McMahon, Gillard and Turnbull.

On December 16, 2018, prime minister Scott Morrison announced the appointment of retired general and current NSW Governor David Hurley as Australia’s 27th governor-general. Sir Peter Cosgrove has agreed to stay on as governor-general until June 28, 2019, in order to enable both men to retain their current positions for the duration of the NSW state election (March 23, 2019) and the federal election expected in May.

Australian Governors-General Since 1901
No. Name Began Ended Term Appointed by PM Born Died Age
1.
John Adrian Louis,
Earl of Hopetoun
01.01.1901
09.01.1903
2 years, 8 days
25.09.1860
29.02.1908
47
2.
Hallam Tennyson,
Baron Tennyson
09.01.1903
21.01.1904
1 year, 12 days
Barton
11.08.1852
02.12.1928
76
3.
Henry Stafford,
Baron Northcote
21.01.1904
09.09.1908
4 years, 6 months, 19 days
Deakin
18.11.1846
29.09.1911
64
4.
William Humble,
Earl of Dudley
09.09.1908
03.07.1911
2 years, 9 months, 24 days
Deakin
25.05.1867
29.06.1932
65
5.
Thomas Denman,
Baron Denman
31.07.1911
18.05.1914
2 years, 9 months, 18 days
Fisher
16.11.1874
24.06.1954
79
6.
Sir Ronald Crauford Munro Ferguson,
The Viscount Novar
18.05.1914
06.10.1920
6 years, 4 months, 18 days
Cook
06.03.1860
30.03.1934
74
7.
Henry William,
Baron Forster of Lepe
06.10.1920
08.10.1925
5 years, 2 days
Hughes
31.01.1866
15.01.1936
69
8.
John Lawrence,
Baron Stonehaven
08.10.1925
22.01.1931
5 years, 3 months, 14 days
Bruce
27.04.1874
20.08.1941
67
9.
Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs
22.01.1931
23.01.1936
5 years, 1 day
Scullin
06.08.1855
11.02.1948
92
10.
Brigadier General Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven, Baron Gowrie
23.01.1936
30.01.1945
9 years, 7 days
Lyons
06.07.1872
02.05.1955
82
11.
Prince Henry William Frederick Albert, Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster and Baron Culloden
30.01.1945
11.03.1947
2 years, 1 month, 11 days
Curtin
31.03.1900
10.06.1974
74
12.
Sir William John McKell
11.03.1947
08.05.1953
6 years, 1 month, 27 days
Chifley
26.09.1891
11,01.1985
93
13.
Field Marshall Sir William Joseph Slim
08.05.1953
02.02.1960
6 years, 8 months, 25 days
Menzies
06.08.1891
14.12.1970
79
14.
William Shepherd,
Viscount Dunrossil
02.02.1960
03.02.1961
1 year, 1 day
(died in office)
Menzies
10.08.1893
03.02.1961
67
15.
William Philip,
Viscount De L’Isle
03.08.1961
22.09.1965
4 years, 1 month, 19 days
Menzies
23.05.1909
05.04.1991
81
16.
Richard Gardiner,
Baron Casey
22.09.1965
30.04.1969
3 years, 7 months, 8 days
Menzies
29.08.1890
17.06.1976
85
17.
Sir Paul Hasluck
30.04.1969
11.07.1974
5 years, 2 months, 11 days
Gorton
01.04.1905
09.01.1993
87
18.
Sir John Robert Kerr
11.07.1974
08.12.1977
3 years, 4 months, 27 days
Whitlam
24.09.1914
24.03.1991
76
19.
Sir Zelman Cowen
08.12.1977
29.07.1982
4 years, 7 months, 21 days
Fraser
07.10.1919
08.12.2011
92
20.
Sir Ninian Martin Stephen
29.07.1982
15.02.1989
6 years, 6 months, 17 days
Fraser
15.06.1923
29.10.2017
94
21.
William George (Bill) Hayden
16.02.1989
15.02.1996
7 years
Hawke
23.01.1933
86
22.
Sir William Patrick Deane
16.02.1996
28.06.2001
5 years, 4 months, 12 days
Keating
04.01.1931
88
23.
Archbishop Peter Hollingworth
29.06.2001
28.05.2003
1 year, 10 months, 29 days
Howard
10.04.1935
84
24.
Major-General Michael Jeffery
11.08.2003
05.09.2008
5 years, 24 days
Howard
12.12.1937
81
25.
Dame Quentin Bryce
05.09.2008
28.03.2014
5 years, 6 months, 23 days
Rudd
23.12.1942
76
26.
General Sir Peter Cosgrove
28.03.2014
01.07.2019
5 years, 3 months, 3 days
Abbott
28.07.1947
71
27.
General David Hurley
01.07.2019
19 days
Morrison
xx.xx.1953
66

 

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