Michael Jeffery

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This article is about the former Governor-General of Australia. For other people with the same name, see Michael Jeffery (disambiguation).
Major General The Honourable
Philip Michael Jeffery
Jeffery Michael 030238DI-002.jpg
24th Governor-General of Australia
In office
11 August 2003 – 5 September 2008
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister John Howard
Kevin Rudd
Preceded by Peter Hollingworth
Succeeded by Dame Quentin Bryce
30th Governor of Western Australia
In office
1 November 1993 – 17 August 2000
Monarch Elizabeth II
Premier Carmen Lawrence
Richard Court
Preceded by Sir Francis Burt
Succeeded by John Sanderson
Personal details
Born Philip Michael Jeffery
(1937-12-12) 12 December 1937 (age 76)
Wiluna, Western Australia
Spouse(s) Marlena Kerr
Children 4
Profession Military
Religion Christian[1][2]
Military service
Allegiance  Australia
Service/branch Australian Army
Years of service 1955–1993
Rank Major General
Commands Deputy Chief of the General Staff (1990)
1st Division (1986–88)
1st Brigade (1983–84)
Special Air Service Regiment (1976–77)
2nd Battalion, Royal Pacific Islands Regiment (1974–75)
Battles/wars Malayan Emergency
Vietnam War
Awards Companion of the Order of Australia
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Military Cross

Major General Philip Michael Jeffery ACCVOMC (born 12 December 1937) is a retired senior Australian Army officer who was the 24th Governor-General of Australia, serving from 2003 to 2008, and the 30th Governor of Western Australia, serving from 1993 to 2000. From Perth, Western Australia, he graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, and served during both the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam War, being awarded the Military Cross during the latter conflict. Jeffery was at various stages commander of the Special Air Service Regiment and the 1st Division, and subsequently Deputy Chief of General Staff, before retiring from active service in 1993. Having previously served in the equivalent viceregal role in Western Australia, Jeffery was appointed governor-general in 2003, following the resignation of Peter Hollingworth. The first career soldier to hold the position, he was succeeded by Quentin Bryce.

Early life and military career[edit]

Jeffery was born in Wiluna, Western Australia and was educated at Kent Street Senior High School. At 16 he left Perth to attend the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in Canberra. After graduation in 1958, he served in a number of junior positions before being posted to Malaya in 1962 for operational service. From 1966 to 1969 he served in Papua New Guinea. During this posting, he married Marlena Kerr of Sydney, with whom he had three sons and a daughter. This was followed by a tour of duty in Vietnam during which he was awarded the Military Cross (MC).[3][4] 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.[5]

In 1972 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel,[citation needed] commanding the 2nd Battalion of the Pacific Islands Regiment from 1974 to 1975. He assumed command of the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) in Perth from 7 January 1976 until 22 October 1977, and was then promoted to colonel as the first Director of the Army's Special Action Forces in 1979.[6] 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 1982 to 1983 he headed Australia's national counter-terrorist co-ordination authority. In 1985 he was promoted to major general, being appointed to command the 1st Division the following year. In 1990 he became Deputy Chief of the General Staff and in 1991 he was appointed Assistant Chief of the General Staff for Materiel.[6]

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[edit]

In November 1993 Jeffery was appointed Governor of Western Australia and in June 1996 he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).[7] He was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) on 1 April 2000.[8][9]

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

On the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, for example, 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."[10]

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 true ... in Western Australia."[10]

Governor-General of Australia[edit]

Michael and Marlena Jeffery

Following the resignation of Peter Hollingworth as governor-general, the prime minister, John Howard, announced on 22 June 2003 that he had chosen Jeffery to succeed Hollingworth. He was formally appointed by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia and sworn in on 11 August 2003, becoming the first Australian soldier to become governor-general.[11]

Jeffery's appointment was generally welcomed, although there was some critical comment about the appointment of another Anglo-Australian male to the post[citation needed] 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."[citation needed]

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."[citation needed] While in office, however, he kept a very low profile. Some journalists[who?] speculated that he had been advised to do so by Howard. Only 14 per cent of people interviewed for a newspaper survey in August 2006 recognised his photograph.[12]

In 2007, in his position as governor-general, Jeffery was appointed as the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps, succeeding the previous Colonel-in-Chief, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. It is expected that future governors-general will serve in this position.[13]

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.[14] Jeffery was an active Chief Scout.[15]

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.[16][17]



Order of Australia (Military) ribbon.png Royal Victorian Order UK ribbon.png Military Cross ribbon.png Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png

Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 ribbon.png GSM 62.gif Vietnam Medal ribbon.png Australian Service Medal 1945-1975 ribbon.png

Centenary Medal (Australia) ribbon.png DFSM with Rosette x 4.png National Medal with Rosette.png Australian Defence Medal (Australia) ribbon.png

PNG Independence Medal.png Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon.png Pingat Jasa Malaysia ribbon.png Order of Logohu - Grand Companion (PNG) ribbon.png

OrderAustraliaRibbon.png Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) 1996 Queen's Birthday Honours[7]
Order of Australia (Military) ribbon.png Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) 1988 Queen's Birthday Honours[18]
Member of the Order of Australia (AM) 1981 Queen's Birthday Honours[19]
Royal Victorian Order UK ribbon.png Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) (2000)[8][9]
Military Cross ribbon.png Military Cross (MC) (1971)[3][4]
Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png Knight of Grace of the Most Venerable Order of Saint John 15 April 1994[20][21]
Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 ribbon.png Australian Active Service Medal 1945–1975 with MALAYA, THAI-MALAY and VIETNAM clasps
GSM 62.gif General Service Medal with BORNEO clasp
Vietnam Medal ribbon.png Vietnam Medal
Australian Service Medal 1945-1975 ribbon.png Australian Service Medal 1945–1975 with SE ASIA and PNG clasps
Centenary Medal (Australia) ribbon.png Centenary Medal (awarded 2001)[22]
DFSM with Rosette x 4.png Defence Force Service Medal with 4 clasps 35–39 years service
National Medal with Rosette.png National Medal[23] with First Clasp – 25–35 years service to ...
Australian Defence Medal (Australia) ribbon.png Australian Defence Medal
PNG Independence Medal.png Papua New Guinea Independence Medal (1977)
Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon.png Vietnam Campaign Medal
Pingat Jasa Malaysia ribbon.png Pingat Jasa Malaysia
Order of Logohu - Grand Companion (PNG) ribbon.png Honorary Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu (GCL) (2005)[24]

Unit Award:

Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d.svg Vietnam Gallantry Cross; 8th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1970)[25]

Images of General Jeffery with medals: 11 April 2008, 2008
Image of General Jeffery in uniform with ribbons: 27 August 2008


  1. ^ "Governor-General Michael Jeffery yesterday told business leaders in Perth that the Christian saviour is 'the greatest leader the world has ever seen or will ever see'." Rafael Epstein (reporter; 26 February 2004). "Jesus Christ makes the headlines" transcript, The World Today Archives – Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  2. ^ The presenter, Monica Attard, refers to Jeffery as "a very strong Christian" with "strong Christian faith conservative social values", a statement which Jeffery does not contradict (9 March 2008). "His Excellency, Major General Michael Jeffery" transcript, Sunday Profile archives – Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  3. ^ a b The London Gazette: no. 45431. p. 7941. 23 July 1971. Retrieved 12 May 2008. – Military Cross announcement.
  4. ^ a b It's an Honour – Military Cross – 23 July 1971
    Citation: Infantry – 8 RAR – Vietnam
  5. ^ Australian Army Training Team Vietnam, Western Australia branch 40th anniversary reunion. Retrieved 15 May 2008
  6. ^ a b Singh, Shivani (2010). Who's Who in Australia 2010. Melbourne, Australia: Crown Content. ISBN 1-74095-172-7. 
  7. ^ a b 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.
  8. ^ a b The London Gazette: no. 55839. pp. 4979–4980. 5 May 2000. Retrieved 12 May 2008. – CVO announcement.
  9. ^ a b It's an Honour – The Royal Victorian Order, Commander – 1 April 2000
  10. ^ a b Price, Matt (28 June 2003). "Governor-General's prejudices on parade". The Australian. 
  11. ^ Foundation News
  12. ^ Courier Mail survey
  13. ^ GG's new role, Army News, Edition 1167, 31 May 2007.
  14. ^ "Chief Scout". Scouts Australia. Retrieved 15 November 2007. 
  15. ^ Kittel, Nicholas (1 August 2007). "A century of Scouts a reason to celebrate". 666 ABC Canberra (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 15 November 2007. "In his address the Governor General also explained his role as Chief Scout. "Really the Chief Scout tries to go around to as many scout groups as he can and say 'well done' to all who are taking part and to encourage a strengthening of the movement."" [dead link] Saulwick, Jacob (2 August 2007). "Scout and proud: life still a jamboree after 100 years". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 November 2007.  "Scouts descend on tiny town for jamboree". The Age (Melbourne). 1 January 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2007. 
  16. ^ "Resignation of the Governor-General" (Press release). Prime Minister of Australia. 13 April 2008. 
  17. ^ Pollard, Ruth (13 April 2008). "Rudd appoints female G-G". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 April 2008. 
  18. ^ It's an Honour – Officer of the Order of Australia – 13 June 1988
    Citation: For service to the Australian Army as Commander 1st Division.
  19. ^ It's an Honour – Member of the Order of Australia – 8 June 1981
  20. ^ The London Gazette: no. 53643. p. 5667. 15 April 1994. Retrieved 12 May 2008. – KStJ announcement.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ It's an Honour – Centenary Medal – 1 January 2001
  23. ^ It's an Honour – National Medal – 14 July 1977
  24. ^ Order of Logohu
  25. ^ "Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation to 8th Battalion". Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia. Retrieved 12 May 2008. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Peter Hollingworth
Governor General of Australia
Succeeded by
Dame Quentin Bryce
Preceded by
Francis Burt
Governor of Western Australia
Succeeded by
John Sanderson
Military offices
Preceded by
Major General John Whitelaw
Deputy Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Major General John Grey
as Deputy Chief of Army