Michael Jeffery

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
Michael Jeffery
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
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 AC, CVO, MC (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, he graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, and served in 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 Australian Army officer to hold the position, he was succeeded by Quentin Bryce.

Early life and military career

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, 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

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.[10]

Governor-General of Australia

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]

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.[12]

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

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.[15][16]

Life post Yarralumla

Founder and first Chairman, Future Directions International

Future Directions International (FDI) is an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Perth Western Australia. It was established in 2000 by General Jeffery together with a small group of leading Australians to conduct comprehensive research of important medium to long-term issues facing Australia.[17] FDI states its primary aim is to provide informed, balanced advice, which ultimately will result in policy changes that will enhance the quality of strategic decisions at senior levels of the public and private sectors in Australia for the benefit of all Australians.[17]

Chairman Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Australia

Jeffery is Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Australia[18] and is the Australian Representative of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust (UK). The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust has been established to honour Her Majesty The Queen for 60 years of outstanding service and by contributing, as she has requested, to initiatives that will endure beyond her lifetime and help people throughout the Commonwealth. The elimination of blinding trachoma from Australia, and from remote Aboriginal communities in particular has been a major focus of the Trust in Australia.

Chairman Outcomes Australia

Outcomes Australia describes itself as “a not-for-profit organisation for change”.[19] “Their stated purpose is to ensure that Australia has optimal solutions to problems that impact on the entire community directly, or indirectly. The Outcomes approach is not to devise solutions, but to find successful and proven solutions to existing problems”.[19]

Advocate for Soil Health

On 23 October 2012, at the National Farmers Federation Congress in Canberra, then Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the appointment of General Jeffrey as Australia’s first ever Advocate for Soil Health.[20] Gillard noted that the condition of our soils must be a national priority. She indicated that a key step in this direction is the appointment of a person with the authority and trust of the community to raise awareness of the importance of soil– an Advocate for Soil Health.[20]

Gillard noted that, as Governor-General, Jeffrey had a passion for regional development and the future of our rural industries, a commitment he has continued since leaving office.[20]

The role[21] of the Advocate for Soil Health involves the development of soil research priorities to complement existing efforts to develop a national soil research, development and extension strategy. The Terms of Reference[21] identify the following specified tasks: Advocate that the healthy condition of our soils must be a national priority; Report to the Australian Government on national priorities for soil and landscape science and management; Deliver an initial report to the Prime Minister, an interim report to the Minister for Agriculture, and a final report to the Prime Minister; Work towards ensuring that existing and new soils research meets the needs of Australia’s farmers and other soil managers; Advocate for adequate knowledge and supporting systems to help farmers to actively build healthy soils; and, Contribute to the Australian Government white papers on Agricultural Competitiveness and Developing Northern Australia.

In his first report, Jeffery indicated his role as the Advocate for Soil Health has to date focussed on gaining a more detailed understanding of the roles, responsibilities and interconnectivity of groups involved in natural resource management, and publicly advocating the importance of prioritising soil health in the broader context of landscape management.[22] Areas of interest, research and development priorities, meetings and events are listed in the report.[22]

Jeffery has also provided input into the national soil research, development and extension strategy.

The Prime Minister Tony Abbott extended the appointment of Jeffery[23] as the national Advocate for Soil Health until December 2014. He indicated that, as the Advocate, General Jeffery will continue to raise public awareness of the critical role soil plays (integrated with good water and vegetation management) in underpinning sustainable productivity, delivering high quality ecosystem services and helping to meet global challenges including food security and climate change.

Though appointed to this role by the Australian Government, the Advocate for Soil Health does not speak on behalf of the government.

Chairman Soils For Life

Outcomes Australia established Soils For Life, a not-for-profit environmental organisation with the stated purpose of “enhancing the natural environment through the provision of information and education on innovative leading performance in managing Australia’s natural environment, particularly with a focus on the Australian rural landscape”.[24]

Soils for Life supports innovative farmers and land managers demonstrating high performance in regenerative landscape management. The Soils for Life website[24] lists some twenty case studies of productive regenerative agriculture across Australia. The experiences of farmers who are already successfully leading the way is documented to illustrate what can be achieved and how.

Chairman of the Board of Directors, Constitution Education Fund Australia

The Constitution Education Fund Australia (CEFA) is an independent, non-partisan and non-profit organisation committed to increasing public understanding and appreciation of the Constitution, its history and contemporary relevance.[25] CEFA attracts support from all section of the Australian community for its education program. CEFA believes that all Australians, young and old, those born here and those who have come from other lands should have a broad understanding of the system of government that has made our country one of the most successful democracies in the world.[25] Sir Peter Cosgrove, Governor-General of Australia, is Patron-in-Chief.


Jeffery is an active Patron of several other not-for-profit organisations.


Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) 1996 Queen's Birthday Honours[7]
Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) 1988 Queen's Birthday Honours[26]
Member of the Order of Australia (AM) 1981 Queen's Birthday Honours[27]
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) (2000)[8][9]
Military Cross (MC) (1971)[3][4]
Knight of Grace of the Most Venerable Order of Saint John 15 April 1994[28][29]
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)[30]
Defence Force Service Medal with 4 clasps 35–39 years service
National Medal[31] 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)[32]

Unit Award:

Vietnam Gallantry Cross; 8th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1970)[33]

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. 1 2 The London Gazette: no. 45431. p. 7941. 23 July 1971. Retrieved 12 May 2008. – Military Cross announcement.
  4. 1 2 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. 1 2 Singh, Shivani (2010). Who's Who in Australia 2010. Melbourne, Australia: Crown Content. ISBN 1-74095-172-7.
  7. 1 2 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. 1 2 The London Gazette: no. 55839. pp. 4979–4980. 5 May 2000. Retrieved 12 May 2008. – CVO announcement.
  9. 1 2 It's an Honour – The Royal Victorian Order, Commander – 1 April 2000
  10. Price, Matt (28 June 2003). "Governor-General's prejudices on parade". The Australian.
  11. Foundation News
  12. GG's new role, Army News, Edition 1167, 31 May 2007.
  13. "Chief Scout". Scouts Australia. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
  14. 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." 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, Australia. 1 January 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
  15. "Resignation of the Governor-General" (Press release). Prime Minister of Australia. 13 April 2008.
  16. Pollard, Ruth (13 April 2008). "Rudd appoints female G-G". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 April 2008.
  17. 1 2 Future Directions International: http://www.futuredirections.org.au/
  18. The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust website: http://www.jubileetrust.org.au/
  19. 1 2 Outcomes Australia, Soils For Life Program, http://www.outcomesaustralia.com.au/soilsforlife.html
  20. 1 2 3 Address by Julia Gillard to the National Farmer’s Federation Conference: http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/121064/20121121-1537/www.pm.gov.au/press-office/speech-national-farmers-federation-national-congress.html
  21. 1 2 Terms of Reference for the Advocate for Soil Health: http://www.daff.gov.au/natural-resources/soils/advocate-for-soil-health/terms_of_reference_for_the_advocate_for_soil_health
  22. 1 2 First Report Advocate for Soil Health, http://www.daff.gov.au/natural-resources/soils/advocate-for-soil-health/first-report-soil-health
  23. Extension of appointment, announcement by the Prime Minister: http://www.daff.gov.au/natural-resources/soils/advocate-for-soil-health
  24. 1 2 Soils For Life, http://www.soilsforlife.org.au/case-studies.html
  25. 1 2 Constitution Education Fund Australia, website: http://www.cefa.org.au/
  26. It's an Honour – Officer of the Order of Australia – 13 June 1988
    Citation: For service to the Australian Army as Commander 1st Division.
  27. It's an Honour – Member of the Order of Australia – 8 June 1981
  28. The London Gazette: no. 53643. p. 5667. 15 April 1994. Retrieved 12 May 2008. – KStJ announcement.
  29. 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.
  30. It's an Honour – Centenary Medal – 1 January 2001
  31. It's an Honour – National Medal – 14 July 1977
  32. Order of Logohu
  33. "Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation to 8th Battalion". Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
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
Deputy Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Major General John Grey
as Deputy Chief of Army
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