New governor-general to put an arm around Aussies

The role of governor-general is often seen as one of process and protocol, but Sam Mostyn is promising to prioritise kindness, care and respect.

Australia’s newest head of state vows to deliver a more humanitarian flavour to the role.

Sam Mostyn, who was sworn in as the nation’s 28th governor-general in Canberra on Monday, said she would aim to bring a sense of modernity to the position as the King’s representative.

“These testing times call for an unstinting focus on kindness, on care and on respect,” she said after being sworn in.

“I will be an optimistic, modern and visible governor-general, committed to the service and contribution that all Australians expect and deserve from the holder of this office.”

The businesswoman, gender equality advocate and former AFL commissioner was sworn in by High Court Chief Justice Stephen Gageler in the Senate.

The ceremony started with military fanfare and ended with a 21-gun salute, and included an Indigenous smoking ceremony out the front of Parliament House.

Born the eldest of four sisters in Canberra to an army officer father, Ms Mostyn began her professional life as a lawyer, working as an associate in the NSW Supreme Court of Appeal.

She briefly worked as a communications advisor to former prime minister Paul Keating in the 1990s before serving on the boards of companies such as Transurban, Virgin Australia and Citibank Australia.

In 2005, she was appointed as the first female commissioner of the AFL and was a driving force behind establishing the code’s women’s league.

She has also served on non-profit boards including the Climate Council, Beyond Blue and the Sydney Theatre Company and spent time leading the Women’s Economic Taskforce.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australia would begin a new chapter with the appointment of Ms Mostyn.

“In Sam Mostyn, our nation has the right leader, you are a person of intelligence and compassion, of loyalty and integrity. You have clear eyes and a big heart and both have shaped your vision of who and what we can be as a nation,” he said.

“You have always been ready to put yourself forward for others. They are the qualities that she will bring to representing our nation as governor-general.”

Ms Mostyn said she would look to bring the levels of care and respect she had seen through the different aspects of her career to the role of governor-general.

“Care is that gentle thought and the outstretched hand that Australians have always been ready to share when great challenges present themselves, care is the quieter, better part of ourselves,” she said.

“(Australians have) also reminded me that the role of governor-general is not simply to be an observer of an Australian life, but to be a participant. To reflect the Australian character and its fundamentally democratic spirit.”

Ms Mostyn was appointed following the prime minister’s recommendation to King Charles.

Serving as the representative of the monarch in Australia, the governor-general usually serves a five-year term.

She succeeded David Hurley, who was governor-general from 2019.

While she said Australia had faced its share of great difficulties – from climate change to cost-of-living pressures, to the effects of the COVID pandemic – Ms Mostyn said the nation would meet the challenges together.

“Yet in 2024, it’s true contemporary challenges are placing strains on that confidence. Many Australians expressed concerns about the global political environment and the range of conflicts around the world at this time,” she said.

“Yet despite all these challenges, I will always feel tremendous optimism for Australia.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton praised the work of Ms Mostyn.

“Our 28th governor-general brings to her position many qualities, her judiciousness as a legal practitioner, her knowledge as a political policy advisor, her acumen as a businesswoman and senior executive,” he said.

“(She) possesses a decency and humility which will see her connect with everyday Australians and dignitaries here and across the world.”


Andrew Brown
(Australian Associated Press)


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