Eric Neal

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The Honourable Sir
Eric Neal
Sir Eric Neal in Adelaide, South Australia 2016.jpg
Sir Eric Neal in Adelaide (2016)
32nd Governor of South Australia
In office
22 July 1996 – 3 November 2001
MonarchElizabeth II
PremierDean Brown (1996)
John Olsen (1996–2001)
Preceded byDame Roma Mitchell
Succeeded byMarjorie Jackson-Nelson
Chief Commissioner of Sydney
In office
26 March 1987 – 31 December 1988
Preceded byDoug Sutherland
as Lord Mayor
Succeeded byJeremy Bingham
as Lord Mayor
Personal details
Born (1924-06-24) 24 June 1924 (age 94)

Sir Eric James Neal AC CVO FTSE HonFAIB (born 24 June 1924) is a retired Australian businessman and public officer. He is a former Governor of South Australia (1996–2001), Commissioner of Sydney (1987–1988) and Chancellor of Flinders University (2002–2010).


Neal trained as an engineer at the South Australian School of Mines (now part of the University of South Australia), and became a successful businessman. The peak of his career was fourteen years as CEO of Boral. He was also a Director of John Fairfax Holdings, BHP, Coca-Cola Amatil and AMP Limited and Chairperson of Westpac and Atlas Copco Australia Pty Ltd.

In 1984, Neal was listed as one of Australia's 125 best remunerated business executives by Australian Business magazine.[1] In 1992, journalist Andrew Cornell described him as a "tough, frequently autocratic businessman."[2] Not withstanding, he oversaw 14 years of consecutive and rising profits for shareholders and history has shown that his views and decisions made whilst on the Westpac Board were correct.[citation needed]

He has chaired various government advisory bodies and served as National Chairman, Duke of Edinburgh's Award (1984–92), President of the Order of Australia Association (1989–92), Chair of the Opera Foundation (1990–96). He was Chief Commissioner of the City of Sydney (1987–88) and a member of the Senate of the University of Sydney.[citation needed]

Neal was appointed Governor of South Australia in 1996, and became the first person from the business community to take up residence in Government House in Adelaide. He held the position until 2001, after which he served as Chancellor of Flinders University from 2002 until 2010.

Defence sector[edit]

Neal is a former Honorary Air Commodore of the City of Adelaide Squadron of the RAAF and Honorary Colonel of the Royal South Australia Regiment. He is also an honorary life member of the Returned and Services League of Australia.[3]

In 1981, Sir Eric was appointed to a committee tasked with reviewing Australia's Higher Defence Organisation. In 1992 he was awarded the United States Department of Defence Medal for Distinguished Public Service for his contribution in Chairing the Council that organised Australian events commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea.[3]

In 2009 he commenced his final role in public office, serving as Chair of the Veterans Advisory Council in South Australia.[3] This culminated in the opening of the Memorial Walk in Kintore Avenue. Neal retired from the position in 2016,[4] concluding 76 years in private and public sector employment.


Sir Eric was appointed (1984–1992) as National Chair of the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award – Australia and as an International Trustee of the Award from 1987–1997.[1]


  • He is a Life Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors[5]
  • He is one of only nine Honorary Fellows of the Australian Institute of Building[6]
  • The Sir Eric Neal Library at the University of South Australia was opened in his honour in 2001.[7]
  • Flinders University named its Engineering Building after him.[8]
  • On 17 April 2007, Sir Eric Neal accepted the offer of the Adelaide University Soccer Club Blacks invitation to become the club's patron.
  • First Principal Patron of the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men's Health at the University of Adelaide.
  • Honorary doctorates from the University of Sydney, University of South Australia (1996)[9] and Flinders University.
  • Patron of the Port Adelaide Football Club.
  • Gold Distinguished Service Medal, The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award – Australia (2016)[10]
OrderAustraliaRibbon.png Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) 1988[11]
Royal Victorian Order UK ribbon.png Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) 1992[12]
Knight-Bachelor.ribbon.png Knight Bachelor 1982[13][14]
Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png Knight of the Order of St John 1996
Centenary Medal (Australia) ribbon.png Centenary Medal 2001[15]
US DoD Distinguished Public Service Award BAR.svg Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service 1992
DOEA Gold Distinguished Service Medal.png Distinguished Service Medal - Gold 2016[16]

In 1992 he was awarded the United States Department of Defence Medal for Distinguished Public Service for his contribution in Chairing the Council that organised Australian events commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Neal married Joan Bowden in 1949[17] and their first son was born in 1951 in Broken Hill.[18] A second son was born in 1963 in Ballarat.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Hawke not in accord on top salaries". The Canberra Times. 3 Feb 1984. Retrieved 2016-06-03 – via Trove.
  2. ^ "WESTPAC SHAKEOUT Neal's rise and fall both rapid". The Canberra Times. 2 Oct 1992. Retrieved 2016-06-03 – via Trove.
  3. ^ a b c "Veterans Advisory Council | 100 years of Anzac for SA". 2016-05-01. Archived from the original on 2016-05-01. Retrieved 2016-10-04.
  4. ^ Hamilton-Smith, Martin (2016-05-24). "Appointment of Veterans' Advisory Council Chair". Government of South Australia. Retrieved 2016-10-04.
  5. ^ Australian Institute of Company Directors
  6. ^ AIB Honorary Fellows, Australian Institute of Building
  7. ^ "UniSA Sir Eric Neal Library | Thomson Rossi". Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  8. ^ "Engineering – Sir Eric Neal Building". Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  9. ^ "Sir Eric Neal Library". Retrieved 2016-10-04.
  10. ^ Duke of Edinburgh's International Award, Australia
  11. ^ It's an Honour – Companion of the Order of Australia
  12. ^ It's an Honour – Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
  13. ^ It's an Honour – Knight Bachelor
  14. ^ "Killen, Court head knighthood list - The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) - 12 Jun 1982". Retrieved 2016-06-03 – via Trove.
  15. ^ Duke of Edinburgh Award – Distinguished Service Medal
  16. ^ It's an Honour – Centenary Medal
  17. ^ "DOUBLE EVENT AT PARTY". The Mail. Adelaide. 8 Oct 1949. Retrieved 2016-06-03 – via Trove.
  18. ^ "BABIES". Barrier Daily Truth. Broken Hill, NSW. 7 Feb 1951. Retrieved 2016-06-03 – via Trove.
Government offices
Preceded by
Dame Roma Mitchell
Governor of South Australia
Succeeded by
Marjorie Jackson-Nelson