Kevin Scarce

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Rear Admiral The Honourable
Kevin Scarce
Kevin Scarce in 2008.jpg
34th Governor of South Australia
In office
8 August 2007 – 7 August 2014
Monarch Elizabeth II
Premier Mike Rann (2007–11)
Jay Weatherill (2011–2014)
Lieutenant Hieu Van Le
Preceded by Marjorie Jackson-Nelson
Succeeded by Hieu Van Le
Personal details
Born (1952-05-04) 4 May 1952 (age 63)[1]
Adelaide, South Australia
Nationality Australian
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Anne Taylor
Children Kasha Scarce
Kingsley Scarce
Residence Adelaide, South Australia
Alma mater University of New England
Profession Naval officer
Military service
Allegiance Australia
Service/branch Royal Australian Navy
Years of service 1968–2007
Rank Rear Admiral
Unit HMAS Sydney
HMAS Watson
Commands HMAS Cerberus
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Companion of the Order of Australia
Conspicuous Service Cross

Rear Admiral Kevin John Scarce ACCSCRANR (born 4 May 1952) is a retired Royal Australian Navy officer who was the 34th Governor of South Australia, serving from August 2007 to August 2014. He was succeeded by Hieu Van Le, who had previously been his lieutenant governor.

Early life[edit]

Born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1952, Scarce spent his early childhood in Woomera and attended Elizabeth East Primary School and Elizabeth High School.


Military service[edit]

Joining the navy in 1968, Scarce served during the Vietnam War on the troop transport HMAS Sydney.[2] After the Vietnam War, Scarce's naval career specialised in military logistics and procurement, rising to the rank of rear admiral and head of Maritime Systems at the Defence Materiel Organisation. Scarce also served as the commander of HMAS Cerberus between 1995 and 1997.

As head of the South Australian government's Defence Unit, he was responsible for South Australia's winning bid for a A$6 billion defence contract to build three air warfare destroyers for the Australian Defence Force.[3]

Governor of South Australia[edit]

On 3 May 2007, it was announced that Scarce would become Governor of South Australia – the Queen's representative in the state, although after his appointment he broke the tenets of viceregal impartiality by publicly stating that he is an avowed supporter of an Australian republic.[4] When appointed, he was the youngest South Australian-born Governor and the first Royal Australian Navy officer appointed to the position.[5] In 2008, during his term as Governor, Scarce was appointed the Patron of Debating SA. On 13 February 2012, Scarce's term was extended by two years to 7 August 2014.[6] Hieu Van Le, Scarce's lieutenant-governor, was announced on 26 June 2014 as Scarce's replacement, and took over the role on 1 September.[7]

Cancer Council of South Australia[edit]

Scarce was appointed Chairman of the Cancer Council of South Australia in November 2014[8] and has since met many beneficiaries of the organisation's fundraising, research, education and services. He told The Advertiser that he took the role last November after being impressed by the Council's work during his time as Governor, and also because his grandmother Leah died from cancer. Scarce has also cycled as part of the Cancer Council's Ride for a Reason team in the Santos Tour Down Under.[9]

Chancellor of the University of Adelaide[edit]

Scare was appointed the 16th Chancellor of the University of Adelaide with effect from 1 December 2014[10] in succession to the Hon Robert Hill AC, who retired in July 2014. In the interim, Deputy Chancellor, Dianne Davidson, was the Acting Chancellor of the University.

Nuclear industrial development[edit]

In December 2014, Scarce broke seven years of 'political silence' by suggesting that South Australia considers developing nuclear industries to compensate for a downturn in the manufacturing sector. He said that a debate between experts and without political intervention was needed. He was speaking as an invited guest of the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME).[11]

Earlier that month, Scarce had been appointed Chancellor of the University of Adelaide. Several of the University's staff had previously announced their support for the development of nuclear power generation as a means of reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change. Examples include Professor Barry Brook,[12] scientists Tom Wigley[13] and Corey J. A. Bradshaw[14] and economist Mike Young.

On 9 February 2015, it was announced that Scarce would lead a Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission to inquire into the possible expansion of nuclear industries in South Australia, including uranium mining, enrichment, power generation and radioactive waste storage. He told the media that he wanted a debate on the opportunities and risks the development of nuclear industries in South Australia represented, stating: "I come to this with no preconceived views."[15]

Scarce appeared in a segment about the nuclear Royal Commission on ABC's 7.30 program, broadcast on 14 March 2015. He said:

“I know the dangers of the industry. I also know the opportunities it can bring. How do we convince South Australians that it is safe... and what are the benefits of so doing?”[16]

A period for public submissions in response to the Terms of Reference for the Commission closed that afternoon, prior to the 7.30 broadcast.[17]

During his role as Governor of South Australia, Scarce spoke and presented the deed of title at the Maralinga Tjarutja Section 400 Handback Ceremony at the Maralinga Village.[18] Section 400 was a 3,126 km2 parcel of land, located 136 kilometres (85 mi) from the Oak Valley Aboriginal Community. The ceremony marked the return of Section 400 to its traditional owners, which had previously been disallowed access due to radioactive contamination. The contamination was a legacy of a program of British nuclear weapons tests which ran from 1956 until 1963. Seven major nuclear weapons tests occurred in 1956 and 1957 followed by a series of 'minor' tests which included the explosive scattering of 22 kilograms (49 lb) of plutonium.[19]

Scarce spent his early childhood in Woomera, home of the Commonwealth Weapons Research Establishment. The WRE, as it was known, served as a support centre for the British nuclear test program during this period.


OrderAustraliaRibbon.png Order of Australia (Military) ribbon.png CSC Australia ribbon.png Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png

Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 ribbon.png Vietnam Logistic and Support Medal ribbon.png DFSM with Rosette x 4.png Australian Defence Medal (Australia) ribbon.png

OrderAustraliaRibbon.png Companion of the Order of Australia (General Division) (AC) (2008)[23]
Order of Australia (Military) ribbon.png
Officer of the Order of Australia (Military Division) (AO) (2004)[22]
Member of the Order of Australia (Military Division) (AM) (2001)[21]
CSC Australia ribbon.png Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) (1994)[20]
Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png Knight of the Order of St John (KStJ) (2007)
Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 ribbon.png Australian Active Service Medal 1945–1975
Vietnam Logistic and Support Medal ribbon.png Vietnam Logistic and Support Medal
DFSM with Rosette x 4.png Defence Force Service Medal with 4 clasps 35–39 years service
Australian Defence Medal (Australia) ribbon.png Australian Defence Medal

Personal life[edit]

In 1975, Scarce married Elizabeth Anne Taylor while posted at HMAS Watson. They have two adult children, Kasha (born in 1978), who works as a social worker in Sydney; and Kingsley (born in 1980), who serves as a lieutenant commander in the Royal Australian Navy.


  1. ^ From navy brass to straight-talking bloke, The Advertiser, 5 May 2007.
  2. ^ Vietnam War Nominal Roll
  3. ^ Sexton, Mike: Battle hots up for destroyer contract, The 7.30 Report (ABC), 29 March 2005.
  4. ^ Kevin Scarce appointed SA governor, The Age, 3 May 2007.
  5. ^ samotor. Royal Automobile Association. Nov–Dec 2007. p. 8. 
  6. ^ "Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce to stay on as South Australia governor". 13 February 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  7. ^ Hieu Van Le to be next SA Governor, from war-torn Vietnam to vice-regal post: ABC 26 June 2014
  8. ^ "Rear Admiral The Honourable Kevin Scarce AC CSC RANR Rtd". Cancer Council SA. Retrieved 2015-03-28. 
  9. ^ Crouch, Brad (2015-03-28). "Former governor Kevin Scarce’s new fight — better accommodation for cancer patients". The Advertiser. Retrieved 2015-03-28. 
  10. ^ University of Adelaide Media Release
  11. ^ Edwards, Verity (13 December 2014). "Let’s talk nuclear, says ex-governor Kevin Scarce". The Australian. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  12. ^ Owen, Michael (1 June 2012). "Nuclear power the way forward: climate scientist". Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  13. ^ Shepherd, Tory (4 November 2013). "Adelaide University scientist Tom Wigley joins peers calling for greenies to embrace nuclear power". The Advertiser. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  14. ^ Bradshaw, Corey; Heard, Ben (7 October 2013). "Pro-nuclear greenies? Thinking outside the box with Pandora’s Promise". Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  15. ^ "Former SA governor to lead nuclear inquiry". SBS. 9 February 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  16. ^ Mann, Alex (2015-03-13). "Nuclear Royal Commission examines how to turn uranium into profit". 7.30. ABC. Retrieved 2015-03-15. 
  17. ^ "Royal Commission - Our role in nuclear energy". YourSAy. Government of South Australia. Retrieved 2015-03-13. 
  18. ^ "Maralinga: Traditional owners get their land back". Aboriginal Way (South Australian Native Title Services) (40). 2010-02-01. 
  19. ^ Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee Annual Report 2009/2010. Adelaide, South Australia: Parliament of South Australia. 2010. pp. 21–22. 
  20. ^ a b It's an Honour – Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC)
  21. ^ a b It's an Honour – Member of the Order of Australia (AM)
  22. ^ a b It's an Honour – Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)
  23. ^ a b It's an Honour – Companion of the Order of Australia (AC)
Government offices
Preceded by
Marjorie Jackson-Nelson
Governor of South Australia
Succeeded by
Hieu Van Le
Academic offices
Preceded by
Robert Hill
Chancellor of the University of Adelaide