Australia’s next governor-general: Who is she, and what has been the reaction?

Just what does the governor-general do?

Source: TND

Australia’s next governor-general will be Samantha Mostyn – the second woman in the country’s history to take on the role.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Wednesday that Mostyn had been approved by King Charles and will be sworn in as Australia’s 28th governor-general on July 1, replacing David Hurley.

“Ms Mostyn is a modern and optimistic leader for our modern and optimistic nation,” Albanese said.

“I am confident Ms Mostyn will discharge her duties as governor-general with her customary dedication, creativity and compassion – and an unwavering sense of service to our nation.”

Reaction to new governor-general

Mostyn’s appointment to the role of governor-general garnered broad cross-party approval and messages of support from a number of high-profile Australians and organisations.

Many pointed to her extensive background in leadership roles, which range from business to gender equality advocacy.

“She will bring a wealth of experience and compassion to the role of GG,” Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek posted on X.

“She is an outstanding choice,” Independent MP Zoe Daniel wrote.

Liberal MP Kellie Sloane wrote on X that Mostyn was “one of the most impressive professionals of her generation” thanks to her influence across areas such as sport, climate change and women’s empowerment.

Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie told Sky News Mostyn was a “great appointment”, and that McKenzie expected she would continue her advocacy in her new role.

Former prime minister Paul Keating, who Mostyn previously worked with as a communications policy adviser, said her experience in public, community and business life – along with her “innate ability” and values – qualified her for the “exalted position” of governor-general.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said Mostyn was well known to many people within the government and he wished her the “very best” in her new role.

Who is Samantha Mostyn?

Born in Canberra and having spent her childhood travelling around Australia and internationally thanks to her father’s army career, Mostyn gained an arts law degree at Australian National University and, years later, an honorary doctorate in laws from the same institution in 2018.

Her resume is long and wide ranging, but here are some highlights.

Mostyn began her professional career as an associate in the NSW Supreme Court of Appeal, and after a few years working as a solicitor, became a communications policy adviser for several Labor politicians.

In 2005 she became the first female AFL commissioner, a position she held until 2017, during which time she contributed to the development of the AFL’s Respect and Responsibility Policy and advocated for the creation of the AFL Women’s league.

Beyond sport, she has held senior roles in organisations advocating for women, international development, mental health, diversity, the arts and the climate.

These include, but are not limited to: Beyond Blue, the Climate Council, Ausfilm, and the Women’s Economic Opportunity Review.

Mostyn has held senior executive positions with the likes of IAG, Optus, and Aware Super, along with non-executive roles with Virgin Australia, Transurban and Mirvac.

In 2020, she received the United Nations Day Honour Award in recognition of her efforts to advance sustainable development and her leadership in diversity and inclusion in Australia.

The next year, Mostyn was awarded an AO for distinguished service to business, sustainability, the community, and women.

In her personal life, she has been described as “incredibly loyal” and modest; her long-time friend, playwright Suzie Miller, told Sydney Morning Herald in 2019 that Mostyn needed to celebrate her achievements more.

What is a governor-general?

The governor-general is a representative for the reigning British monarch.

They are Australia’s head of state and commander-in-chief of the Australian Defence Force.

The position carries a significant amount of power.

For example, a bill can only become a law if the governor-general agrees to it on behalf of King Charles, although no governor-general has ever refused to give Royal Assent.

The governor-general is also able to appoint a prime minister if an election has not resulted in a clear outcome, or dismiss a prime minister – as seen with the 1975 dismissal of Gough Whitlam.

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