Photo: AAP Image/Sean Davey
PRIME MINISTER: Well thank you for joining us this morning on this important day. The office of the Governor General is the most significant in our nation and it is designed under our constitution to provide stability and certainty and continuity to our democracy and to the democratic institutions that protect Australia, that keep Australia together. It was these very important responsibilities that fall to a Governor-General - stability, continuity and certainty - that were foremost in my mind in exercising my responsibility as Prime Minister to make a recommendation to Her Majesty about who the next Governor-General for Australia should be.
I had only one choice, my first choice and he is standing next to me. I am very pleased to announce that Her Majesty the Queen has agreed to appoint His Excellency General David Hurley AC DSC as the 27th Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.
General Hurley has served Australia for almost half a century and I've had the privilege to serve with him as a minister of a Government in which he served as the Chief of the Defence Force. He joined the Army in 1972, that was not a time when military service was popular - sadly - in our country. He served for 42 years and rose to become the Chief of the Defence Force, a role he was appointed to by the former Labor government. It was General Hurley who first spoke the words; "The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept,” which is a lesson to all of us. It’s a phrase that embodies what Australian leadership is all about. It’s a phrase that has embodied the service of General Hurley. In 2014 he was appointed as Governor of New South Wales by the then Premier Mike Baird and it’s a role where he has shone and Mrs Hurley has shone. He is known for his weekly boxing workouts with Indigenous kids, as part of the Tribal Warriors program. These kids in the program call him “Guv”, I suppose they will call you “GG” now. As Governor, he's taken to the highways and byways of New South Wales and the spirit of people like forebear Lachlan Macquarie. The people of New South Wales have taken to the Hurleys. They are generous and they are approachable and they live out a joyous public service. The Governor and Mrs Hurley have been married for over 40 years are an example in that relationship as well. Mrs Hurley has made Government House in Sydney a warm and inviting place. Her sing-alongs are legendary but they serve as an important purpose - to put people of all walks of life at ease. At so many of their functions, heads of industry and government will find themselves singing along with a local charity worker or someone they’ve met on their travels. When they lived in Canberra, Mrs Hurley was a volunteer with the Canberra Hospital and hospice and she has an enormous compassion and grace. This was very much a package deal in inviting Governor Hurley to take on this role with Mrs Hurley.
As you would be aware, Sir Peter Cosgrove's term was due to expire in early 2019, so when I approached General Hurley, who was the stand-out candidate, my first and only choice, he indicated that he wanted to conclude his term as state Governor before taking up the new appointment in 2019 with respect to his responsibilities for the forthcoming state election. This would ensure that New South Wales has an experienced Governor on hand for their state election in March. He believed the honourable thing was for him was to fulfill his current constitutional obligations before he took on new ones. Sir Peter, who has served our country so well and continues to, has agreed also to a short extension of his term, which also has been approved by Her Majesty. This will mean that both New South Wales and Australia will have an experienced Governor and Governor-General in place at the time of the forthcoming elections. As a matter of courtesy, I have spoken to the Leader of the Opposition and informed him of my recommendation to Her Majesty earlier today. He was made aware of my decision as a matter of courtesy, these consultations or I should say, this information was passed on to him.
When I look for a Governor-General, as I say, I was looking for someone who could fulfill that constitutional role with great dignity, but with a levelness. General Hurley is known for looking people straight in the eye, not up and not down. He was that way with those that he led in the military. He's been that way as a Governor and throughout his life, looking eye-to-eye, face-to-face, understanding people's challenges and issues one-on-one in a very direct and very humble and a very humane way. Mrs Hurley is the same.
So, I am very pleased that he takes on those great Australian values of someone who is able to bring people together. He embodies these great characteristics and I am delighted that he's agreed to take on this important role and continue his career of distinguished public service for the Australian people as Governor-General. Congratulations.
HIS EXCELLENCY GENERAL DAVID HURLEY AC DSC, GOVERNOR GENERAL DESIGNATE: Thank you, Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER: I'll ask Governor Hurley to make some statements and then for questions, I'll ask the Hurleys to retire and I’m happy to take those questions.
GENERAL HURLEY: Prime Minister, thank you. Of course it is the highest honour to be asked to be the Governor-General of Australia. I am very humbled and proud to have accepted. I was surprised to receive your request, Linda and I are enjoying our work at Government House in Sydney and we were looking forward to the next stage of our lives after my term as Governor concluded towards the end of next year. We know though, that if I was to retire, the most significant part of our current role that we would miss would be the opportunity to visit and meet the multitude of extraordinary Australians in our community. I have certainly confirmed in my own mind over the past four years, something that I had sensed about Australia, but really hadn't had the opportunity before to witness on a day-to-day basis; that Australia is a very rich country in a nonmaterial sense. Australians have an amazing and indeed an enormous capacity to contribute their time, their energy, their talents, their emotions, their care and indeed their money to assist others. I look forward to continuing to be involved with them in these pursuits.
As the PM has mentioned, you can't do these jobs without someone standing by your side and Linda has had such a unique manner in the role in the last four years. I look forward for the two of us fulfilling the responsibilities of Governor-General together.
My commitment to the people of Australia is that we will fulfil our responsibilities in the same full-hearted manner that I have worked in New South Wales or we have worked in New South Wales over the past four years, including supporting and encouraging them in their community endeavors, recognising their achievements and promoting those achievements at home and abroad. I will be enormously proud to represent Australia in the role of Governor-General. Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER: Again, congratulations and to all the family, congratulations. Well, I am going to leave the Hurleys to have a cup of tea and we will catch up in a minute, but thank you very much.