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Major General Philip Michael Jeffery, AC, CVO, MC (born 12 December 1937) was the 24th Governor-General of Australia 2003–2008. He was the first Australian career soldier to be appointed Governor-General. He had previously served as Governor of Western Australia 1993–2000.

Early life and military career

Michael Jeffery was born in Wiluna, Western Australiamarker and was educated at Kent Street Senior High School. At sixteen he left Perthmarker to attend the Royal Military College, Duntroonmarker, in Canberramarker. After graduation in 1958, he served in a number of junior positions before being posted to Malayamarker in 1962 for operational service. From 1966 to 1969 he served in Papua New Guineamarker. During this posting, he married Marlena Kerr of Sydneymarker (together with whom he had three sons, a daughter and seven subsequent grandchildren). This was followed by a tour of duty in Vietnammarker during which he was awarded the Military Cross (MC). Jeffery remained convinced that Australia's participation in the Vietnam War was right. "I believe passionately that Vietnam was a just cause in the circumstances of the time," he said during a 2002 speech to Australian veterans of the war.

In 1972 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel to command the 2nd Battalion of the Pacific Islands Regiment. In 1975, he assumed command of the SAS in Perth, and was then promoted to Colonel as the first Director of the Army's Special Action Forces (7 January 1976 – 22 October 1977). He was instrumental in developing the surveillance concept for Northern Australia and as Director of Special Action Forces, he prepared the development of the Australian Counter terrorist concept and capability.

From 1981 to 1983 he headed Australia's national counter-terrorist co-ordination authority. In 1985 he was promoted to Major General and appointed to command the Army's 1st Division. In 1990 he became Deputy Chief of the General Staff and in 1991 he was appointed Assistant Chief of the General Staff for Materiel.

Although he retired from the army in 1993, he is still considered the "Honorary Colonel" of the SASR, where he holds the ceremonial role of inducting new soldiers into the regiment and presenting them with their famous sandy beret.

Governor of Western Australia

In November 1993 Jeffery was appointed Governor of Western Australia, and in June 1996 he became a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC). It's an Honour - Companion of the Order of Australia - 11 June 1996
Citation: For service to the Crown as Governor of Western Australia and to the community, particularly through providing leadership in his commitment to the initiation and promotion of youth programmes to address contemporary social problems. He was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) on 1 April 2000.

During his seven years in the post he made a number of public statements of his conservative views on marriage, sex and education, and received some criticism from the Labor opposition and sections of the media for appearing to take positions on political issues.

On the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Grasmarker, for example, General Jeffery said: "Baser instincts are titillated in the television displays of events like the Mardi Gras, where the colour and spectacle of fancy dress camouflages a public display of simulated homosexual activity and the degradation of traditional religions in the name of humour."

He also said: "A British study found a direct statistical link between single parenthood and virtually every type of major crime, including mugging, violence against strangers, car theft and burglary. And the same is Western Australia."


Style and Title:

His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC (Ret'd)

Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia

Following the resignation of Governor-General Dr Peter Hollingworth, Prime Minister John Howard announced on 22 June 2003 that he had chosen Major General Jeffery to succeed him. He was formally appointed by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, and was sworn in on 11 August 2003, becoming the first Australian soldier to become Governor-General.

His appointment was generally welcomed, although there was some critical comment about the appointment of another Anglo-Australian male to the post, and also some comment about his conservative views. A journalist wrote in The Australian: "Jeffery is Howard's perfect Governor-General. The ex-soldier is deeply conservative, steeped in the military and strong on traditional family values."

Jeffery made no apologies for his outspokenness, and commented that: "I think I will be able to talk on issues and principles and values and standards quite comfortably as Governor-General." While in office, however, he kept a very low profile. Some journalists speculated that he had been instructed to do so by Howard. Only 14% of people interviewed for a newspaper survey in August 2006 recognised his photograph.

In 2007, in his position as Governor-General, Major General Jeffery was appointed as the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps, succeeding the previous Colonel-in-Chief, HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. It is expected that future Governors-General will serve in this position.

Jeffery was the Chief Scout of Australia. Historically the Governor-General of Australia has also served as Chief Scout of Australia; the Chief Scout is nominated by the Scouting Association's National Executive Committee and is invited by the President of the Scout Association to accept the appointment. Jeffery was an active Chief Scout.

Jeffery left Yarralumla prior to the swearing-in of his successor, Quentin Bryce, the former Governor of Queensland. Bryce was sworn in on 5 September 2008.

See also: Politics of Australia


Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) Civil division (1996)
Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) Military division (1988) It's an Honour - Officer of the Order of Australia - 13 June 1988
Citation: For service to the Australian Army as Commander 1st Division.
Member of the Order of Australia (AM) (1981)
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) (2000)
Military Cross (MC) (1971) It's an Honour - Military Cross - 23 July 1971
Citation: Infantry - 8 RAR - Vietnam
Knight of Grace of the Most Venerable Order of Saint John 15 April 1994
Australian Active Service Medal 1945-1975 with MALAYA, THAI-MALAY and VIETNAM clasps
General Service Medal with BORNEO clasp
Vietnam Medal
Australian Service Medal 1945-1975 with SE ASIA and PNG clasps
Centenary Medal (awarded 2001)
Defence Force Service Medal with 4 clasps 35–39 years service
National Medal with First Clasp - 25–35 years service to ...
Australian Defence Medal
Papua New Guinea Independence Medal (1977)
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Pingat Jasa Malaysia
Honorary Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu (GCL) (2005)

Unit Award:
Vietnam Gallantry Cross 8th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1970)

Images of General Jeffery with medals: 11 April 2008, 8 April 2008

Image of General Jeffery in uniform with ribbons: 27 August 2008


  1. - Military Cross announcement.
  2. Australian Army Training Team Vietnam, Western Australia branch 40th anniversary reunion. Retrieved 2008-05-15.
  3. - CVO announcement.
  4. It's an Honour - The Royal Victorian Order, Commander - 1 April 2000
  5. Courier Mail survey
  6. GG's new role, Army News, Edition 1167, 31 May 2007.
  7. It's an Honour - Member of the Order of Australia - 8 June 1981
  8. - KStJ announcement.
  9. Note: "Post-nominals within the Order of St John are not recognised." (As notified in the Governor-General’s media release of 14 August 1982.) Order of Wearing, Page 5, Note 3.
  10. It's an Honour - Centenary Medal - 1 January 2001
  11. It's an Honour - National Medal - 14 July 1977
  12. Order of Logohu

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