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Businesswoman and women’s advocate Samantha Mostyn to be Australia’s next governor-general

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Australia’s next governor-general will be businesswoman Samantha Mostyn, succeeding David Hurley on July 1.

Announcing Mostyn’s appointment on Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Mostyn was a “modern and optimistic leader for our modern and optimistic nation”.

“Her leadership reflects our enduring Australian values of equality, fairness and responsibility to build a better future for the next generation,” he said.

Mostyn is the second woman to hold the post, following Quentin Bryce who was appointed by the Rudd Labor government.

Trained as a lawyer, Mostyn has had extensive experience in business, especially in telecommunications and insurance locally and globally.

Her non-executive board roles have included the boards of Transurban, Virgin Australia, and chairing Citibank Australia.

She presently is chair of AWARE Super and Alberts Music Group and is on the Mirvac board.

She was president of Chief Executive Women from 2021-22.

She was a commissioner of the Australian Football League – the first woman to be a commissioner – helping develop its Respect and Responsibility policy, and a driver of the AFL (Women’s) (AFLW).

She has also chaired many not-for-profit bodies, including Beyond Blue and Australian Volunteers International.

Mostyn has been a strong advocate on climate change and on women’s issues and has long had strong Labor connections.

She was a policy adviser for former Labor ministers Bob Collins and Michael Lee and a senior communications policy adviser to former Prime Minister Paul Keating.

In 2022 the Albanese government appointed her to chair its Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce, charged with developing a national strategy to achieve gender equality. The committee reported late last year.

Albanese told a joint press conference with Mostyn she was an “exceptional leader”.

Mostyn said she was “ready to serve with integrity, compassion and respect”.

The governor-general designate told the news conference she wanted to “introduce myself to those who do not yet know me.”

Born in Canberra, “like most people, and certainly most people in Australia, my fundamental values were set early by my parents and our family life.

“Along with my three younger sisters, I grew up in an army family, our father a Royal Military College Duntroon graduate who served Australia with distinction for almost 40 years, supported by the generosity, love, care and selflessness of our late mother.

“In my very early years, my dad’s military service took us to the United States and Canada before returning to Australia and living in Adelaide and Melbourne, including time spent with my grandmother when my father served in Vietnam. We learned to be resilient.

“By the early 1970s, we had returned to Canberra, where I was the beneficiary of the public education system and then later completing an arts law degree at the Australian National University while working as a researcher for the Chief Magistrate of the Australian Capital Territory.

“My memories are of deep service, community involvement, education and learning, sport and music, volunteering and engaging in the disability sector. I also clearly and fondly recall our annual attendances at Anzac Day dawn services and marches and standing patiently with my sisters in the crowds on Dunrossil Drive at Yarralumla, waiting to catch that glimpse of Her Majesty The Queen on her visits to Canberra in the 1970s.

“My parents instilled in us the values that they lived so consistently. Generosity, care for others, respect, curiosity, being of service to society and always humility. Millions of Australians know this to be true, that being of service is what often provides a person with their greatest happiness and sense of purpose.

“That is certainly the case for me and I can think of no greater purpose, Prime Minister, than to serve this country I love as Governor-General, particularly at a time in our history when the challenges and opportunities we face are large and complex.

“In the past 40 years, I hope my career and contributions reflect these values. I’ve worked in the highest levels of many Australian companies and spent time working globally. I’ve also had the privilege of advising governments of all persuasions across the country.

“Alongside my broad business career, I’ve forged a strong connection with many other aspects of Australian life, including in sport, civil society, arts and culture, First Nations reconciliation, sustainability in the environment, policy development, mental health, gender equality and young people.

“My connections to this country and people have come in so many forms, from contributing to governance around executive investment and board tables, to cheering at the footy, to being moved and inspired sitting in the audience at our extraordinary arts and music events, or simply packing food boxes in my local community.

“I’ve had engaging discussions with farmers about the challenges of climate change, listened deeply to young people talking enthusiastically about civics and democracy and intergenerational fairness. I spent time listening carefully to single mothers and domestic violence survivors, and shared coffees and stories in men’s sheds.

“My legal training, including time spent in courts from the Magistrates Court here in Canberra to the Court of Appeal of the New South Wales Supreme Court, ensures that I understand and deeply respect our institutions, the rule of law and in particular the democratic will of the Australian people when it comes to our constitutional arrangements.

“It is this that will guide me in carrying out the duties of this office.”

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