Peter Underwood

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This article is about the Governor of Tasmania. For the parapsychologist, see Peter Underwood (parapsychologist).
The Honourable
Peter George Underwood
AC
27th Governor of Tasmania
In office
2 April 2008 – 7 July 2014
Monarch Elizabeth II
Premier Paul Lennon (2008)
David Bartlett (2008–11)
Lara Giddings (2011–14)
Will Hodgman (2014)
Preceded by William Cox
Personal details
Born (1937-10-10)10 October 1937
United Kingdom
Died 7 July 2014(2014-07-07) (aged 76)
Hobart, Tasmania
Nationality Australia Australian
Spouse(s) Frances Underwood
Alma mater University of Tasmania

Peter George Underwood AC (10 October 1937 – 7 July 2014) was an Australian jurist and the Governor of Tasmania from 2008 until his death in 2014. He was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Tasmania from 2004 to 2008, having been a judge of that court from 1984.

Life[edit]

Underwood was born in 1937 in the United Kingdom,[1] and emigrated to Australia in 1950. He served in the Royal Australian Navy first as a National Serviceman and then in the Reserve as a sub-lieutenant.[2] He graduated from the University of Tasmania in 1960, and practised law in Hobart for the law firm Murdoch, Clarke, Cosgrove and Drake. He was a distinguished trial advocate for over twenty years. He was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court in August 1984.[3]

He managed and taught postgraduate courses in advocacy and Supreme Court practice through the University of Tasmania's Centre for Legal Practice, and continued to teach advocacy in all states of Australia with the Advocacy Institute of Australia. He also taught for The College of Law (UK) in Hong Kong and London.[4]

Underwood had a special interest in the reform of civil procedure. He pioneered case management in Tasmania in 1989 and was instrumental in the development and use of technology as an aid to judicial work.[4]

He also served as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors of the Friends' School from 1989 to 1994, and was chairman of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Board from 1997 to 2006.

In 2001, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in recognition of his services to legal education, the arts and the administration of justice.[4]

In June 2002 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia.[5]

He was appointed to the office of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Tasmania on 2 December 2004.[3]

Underwood was a deputy president of the Australian Defence Force Disciplinary Appeal Tribunal and was the President of the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration from 2002 to September 2004.[2]

On 3 March 2008, Premier Paul Lennon announced the appointment of Peter Underwood as the next Governor of Tasmania, and he was sworn in on 2 April 2008.[6] On 8 June 2009, he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia.[7] On 24 September 2012, Underwood's term was extended to 1 April 2016.[8]

Anzac Day Speech[edit]

On 25 April 2014, speaking in his capacity as Governor at an Anzac Day service at the Hobart Cenotaph, Peter Underwood warned against "glorifying war with descriptions of the mythical tall, lean, bronzed and laconic ANZAC."[9] He called for the 2014 centenary of the First World War to be declared "the Year of Peace" and for Australia to establish "a centre for the study of peace, conflict and war".[10] Alternatively, he said, "some of the millions of dollars that will be spent on the 'Anzac Festival'" should be diverted to "support for the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies."

The speech led to scathing reactions from the national media, with columnist Andrew Bolt declaring in an editiorial he was "not fit to be Governor of Tasmania"[11][12] A week earlier, the out-going president of RSL Tasmania had hailed the speech as "the best he had heard in his life"[13] however his replacement told the media RSL Tasmania was considering rescinding his invitation to speak during the centenary Anzac day ceremonies in 2015.[14] He died before they took any such action.

Death[edit]

Peter Underwood died in office on 7 July 2014. He underwent an operation in early June to remove a kidney tumour, and had returned to work in late June, but suffered a setback a day later.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Hon Justice Peter George Underwood, AO (2004-2008), Supreme Court of Tasmania, 4 September 2009.
  2. ^ a b Defence Force Appeals Tribunal - Peter Underwood
  3. ^ a b Supreme Court: Current Judges
  4. ^ a b c Premier of Tasmania - speech on appointment of Chief Justice
  5. ^ It's an Honour: AO
  6. ^ "Peter Underwood named new Governor". The Mercury. 3 March 2008. Retrieved 3 March 2008. [dead link]
  7. ^ It's an Honour: AC
  8. ^ "Extension of the appointment of the Governor of Tasmania" (Press release). Premier of Tasmania. 24 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "Tasmania's Governor uses Anzac Day speech to call for 'year of peace'". ABC Online (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 25 April 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  10. ^ Beniuk, David (8 July 2014). "Tasmanian Governor Peter Underwood dies, aged 76, surrounded by family". Hobart Mercury (News Ltd). Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  11. ^ "Tasmanian Governor Peter Underwood enters hall of shame over Anzac Day speech". Herald Sun. April 28 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  12. ^ "Peter Underwood is not fit to be Governor of Tasmania". The Telegraph. April 26 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Drop sentimental myths of Anzac day, Tasmanian Governor Peter Underwood says". The Australian. April 25 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  14. ^ "Tasmanian Governor Peter Underwood under fire as Anzac Day address draws storm of protest from veterans, RSL". The Mercury. May 3 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  15. ^ Peter Underwood dead at 76, abc.net.au, 8 July 2014; accessed 10 July 2014.
Legal offices
Preceded by
William Cox
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Tasmania
2004–2008
Succeeded by
Ewan Crawford
Government offices
Preceded by
William Cox
Governor of Tasmania
2008–2014
Succeeded by
TBA