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Sir Peter Cosgrove
Peter Cosgrove 2017 (1).jpg
Cosgrove in 2017
26th Governor-General of Australia
In office
28 March 2014 – 1 July 2019
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Malcolm Turnbull
Scott Morrison
Preceded by Dame Quentin Bryce
Succeeded by David Hurley
Administrator of the Commonwealth
In office
30 April 2023 – 10 May 2023
Monarch Charles III
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
Personal details
Born
Peter John Cosgrove

(1947-07-28) 28 July 1947 (age 76)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Spouses Lynne, Lady Cosgrove (née Payne)
Children 3
Alma mater Royal Military College, Duntroon
National Defence College, India
Military service
Allegiance Australia
Branch/service Australian Army
Years of service 1965–2005
Rank General
Commands Chief of the Defence Force (2002–05)
Chief of Army (2000–02)
Land Command Australia (2000)
International Force East Timor (1999–00)
1st Division (1998–99)
6th Brigade (1992–93)
1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1983–84)
Battles/wars Vietnam War
International Force East Timor
Awards Knight of the Order of Australia
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Military Cross
Complete list

General Sir Peter John Cosgrove, AK, CVO, MC (born 28 July 1947) is an Australian retired senior Army officer who served as the 26th governor-general of Australia, in office from 2014 to 2019.

A graduate of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Cosgrove fought in the Vietnam War, receiving the Military Cross in 1971. From 1983 to 1984, he was commander of the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and he later served as commander of the 6th Brigade and the 1st Division. Cosgrove rose to prominence in 1999, when he served as commander of the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET), which oversaw the peacekeeping mission in East Timor during its transition to independence. He is also an alumnus of National Defence College, India.

Cosgrove was Australia's Chief of Army from 2000 to 2002 and Chief of the Defence Force from 2002 to 2005, receiving corresponding promotions to lieutenant general and general. Cosgrove retired from active service following the end of his term as Chief of the Defence Force, and subsequently served as leader of a taskforce helping to rebuild communities in Queensland after Cyclone Larry in 2006. In January 2014, Cosgrove was named to succeed Dame Quentin Bryce as Governor-General of Australia. He was sworn in on 28 March 2014 and made a Knight of the Order of Australia on the same date. Cosgrove retired on 1 July 2019 and was succeeded by General David Hurley.

Early life and education

Viceregal styles of
Sir Peter Cosgrove
(2014–2019)
Badge of the Governor-General of Australia.svg
Reference style His Excellency the Honourable
Spoken style Your Excellency

Cosgrove was born in Sydney, New South Wales, on 28 July 1947. He was educated at Waverley College in Sydney, then followed his father, a warrant officer, into the Australian Army by attending the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1965. Cosgrove's uncle, Bill Cosgrove, was a professional Australian rules football player, but was killed in action while serving with the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II. Cosgrove class of 1964 spent time in Waverley College's Cadet Unit, as a cadet he was Adjutant CUO P. Cosgrove and tied for the Major General JA Chapman Cane for the most efficient cadet in the Unit. Years later the cadet unit has named an award after Cosgrove, the General Cosgrove Shield (for the most efficient Speciality in the Cadet Unit) each year to honour the achievements of the most senior ranking officer to graduate.

Military service

General Peter Cosgrove AC MC (Ret'd) at the Centenary of the Kangaroo March launch
Cosgrove at the Centenary of the Kangaroo March launch in 2013.

Cosgrove was appointed a probationary second lieutenant in August 1968 while attached to a regular army unit, and was commissioned a lieutenant on 11 December 1968. He was allotted to the Royal Australian Infantry. He arrived in South Vietnam on 3 August 1969 and was posted to 9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment on 20 August 1969. On 10 October 1969, Lieutenant Cosgrove was commanding 5 Platoon, B Company. The platoon located an occupied bunker system in an area where, because of the proximity of allied troops, indirect fire support was difficult to obtain. In spite of this, he led his platoon in an assault on the bunkers without indirect fire support, capturing the system and killing and wounding at least four enemy without sustaining any casualties. On 16 October 1969, 5 Platoon located another bunker system occupied by about a platoon of enemy. Lieutenant Cosgrove silently deployed his own platoon for an attack. His assault completely surprised the enemy causing them to flee, abandoning large quantities of food, stores and documents. The following day in the same bunker system a party of enemy approached his right forward section and was engaged by the sentry. Knowing that the remainder of the section was elsewhere on other tasks, Lieutenant Cosgrove ran to the contact area and personally conducted the fight against the enemy. As a result of his actions, two enemy were killed and three weapons and four packs containing rice were captured. He was awarded the Military Cross for these actions.

Cosgrove was promoted to the temporary rank of captain on 21 September 1970, and was appointed an aide-de-camp to the then-Governor-General Paul Hasluck on 20 December 1971. He was promoted to substantive captain on 31 October 1974 (seniority from 13 July), to temporary major on 2 January 1976 and to substantive major on 11 December 1978. In 1980 he was awarded the National Medal, and was promoted to lieutenant-colonel on 7 December 1981. In the mid-1980s he commanded the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

Cosgrove came to national fame in 1999 when, as a major general, he led the international forces (INTERFET) in a peacekeeping mission to East Timor. The mission's success made him one of Australia's most respected and popular military leaders. He returned to Australia in 2000 as Land Commander Australia, was promoted to lieutenant general in July and appointed Chief of the Army and, in 2002, was advanced to general as Chief of the Defence Force.

In 2004, the Foreign Minister Alexander Downer queried the judgement of Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty. Following a joint interview with the then Defence Minister Robert Hill, Cosgrove was accused of "playing politics" when he said that, on this occasion, he disagreed with Keelty's point of view. However, Cosgrove expressed strong support for the Police Commissioner in his Australian best selling autobiography, My Story, published in 2006. On 3 July 2005, Cosgrove's three-year appointment as Chief of the Defence Force was completed, and he was succeeded by then-Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Angus Houston.

Post-military career

Cyclone Larry Taskforce

On 23 March 2006, Cosgrove was selected to lead the Queensland Government taskforce of rebuilding communities damaged by Cyclone Larry, a Category 5 tropical cyclone that devastated the Innisfail region of northern Queensland. "In recognition of the important contribution General Cosgrove made to the community of North Queensland following Cyclone Larry", on 11 October 2008, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced that a new residential suburb in the Bohle Plains area of Townsville would be named Cosgrove, formerly the site of an Abattoir for the cattle sale yards next to it.

Corporate leadership and community organisations

Cosgrove served on the board of Australia's main airline Qantas between July 2005 and January 2014 and is on numerous other boards as chairman or member. He served as Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University between November 2010 and January 2014; and is Honorary Patron of the ACT Veterans Rugby Club and the Rosies Youth Mission. Peter Cosgrove was appointed as Patron to the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association in 2015.

Governor-General

Peter Cosgrove Swearing In 2
Swearing in as Governor-General

On 28 January 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that the Queen Elizabeth II had accepted his advice to appoint Peter Cosgrove as the next Governor-General of Australia, to succeed Quentin Bryce in late March. On 25 March, Abbott announced that the Queen had also approved the reinstatement of the grade of Knight or Dame in the Order of Australia (she had abolished it in 1986 on the advice of Bob Hawke), and that governors-general would be ex officio the Principal Knight or Dame of the Order. The incumbent, Quentin Bryce, was immediately made the first new Dame of the Order. On 28 March Cosgrove succeeded Dame Quentin and was sworn in as Governor-General by Chief Justice Robert French, becoming Sir Peter Cosgrove. Former headmaster of Waverley College, Ray Paxton states "In choosing Sir Peter Cosgrove for Governor General, Australia has honoured a remarkable man". During his time as Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove was a supporter for the Lung Foundation Australia.

Prince William, Catherine, Prince George and Peter Cosgrove
Prince George with his parents and Sir Peter Cosgrove at Admiralty House, Sydney, April 2014

On 16 December 2018 Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that The Queen had approved the appointment of retired General David Hurley, the current Governor of New South Wales as the next Governor-General of Australia commencing in July 2019, and that Cosgrove's term would be extended until that time to ensure smooth transitions following the New South Wales election in March and federal election expected in May 2019.

On 12 August 2019, during a post appointment call upon the Queen, Cosgrove was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.

During the Coronation of Charles III and Camilla, with the Governor-General of Australia and all of the state governors in London, Cosgrove served as the Administrator of the Commonwealth from 30 April to 10 May 2023.

Personal life

Cosgrove married Lynne Payne in 1976; they have three sons and four grandchildren. Cosgrove is a Roman Catholic and frequently attends Mass in the St Christopher's Cathedral, Canberra.

Cosgrove is a strong supporter and member of the Sydney Roosters. He is also a keen follower of cricket and rugby union.

His memoir, You shouldn't have joined ..., was published by Allen & Unwin in 2020.

Lady Lynne Cosgrove
Lady Cosgrove in 2017

Honours and awards

AUS Order of Australia (civil) BAR.svg AUS Order of Australia (military) BAR.svg
UK Royal Victorian Order ribbon.svg Military Cross ribbon.png Order of St John (UK) ribbon -vector.svg Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 ribbon.png
Vietnam Medal BAR.svg Australian Active Service Medal ribbon.png INTERFET Medal ribbon.png Australian Service Medal 1945-1975 ribbon.png
AUS Centenary Medal ribbon.svg DFSM with Fed Star.png National Medal (Australia) ribbon.jpg Australian Defence Medal (Australia) ribbon.png
Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon with 60- clasp.svg New Zealand Order of Merit ribbon.svg US Legion of Merit Commander ribbon.png Tong-il Security Medal Ribbon.svg
Legion Honneur Officier ribbon.svg PRT Order of Prince Henry - Grand Cross BAR.svg Darjah Utama Bakti Cemerlang (Tentera) ribbon.png Order of Timor-Leste.png
GC.OrdineS.GregorioMagno.png TON Order of the Crown of Tonga ribbon.svg ARG Order of the Liberator San Martin - Grand Cross BAR.svg PRT Order of Liberty - Grand Cross BAR.svg

OrderAustraliaRibbon.png Knight of the Order of Australia (AK) 28 March 2014
Order of Australia (Military) ribbon.png Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) 25 March 2000
(Military division)
For eminent service to the Australian Defence Force as the Commander of the International Force East Timor
Member of the Order of Australia (AM) 26 January 1985
(Military division)
In recognition of service as Commanding Officer 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment
UK Royal Victorian Order ribbon.svg Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) 12 August 2019
Military Cross ribbon.png Military Cross (MC) 12 February 1971 Infantry – 9 RAR – Vietnam
Order of St John (UK) ribbon -vector.svg Knight of the Order of St John 28 March 2014
Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 ribbon.png Australian Active Service Medal 1945–1975 with Vietnam clasp
Vietnam Medal BAR.svg Vietnam Medal
Australian Active Service Medal ribbon.png Australian Active Service Medal with East Timor clasp
INTERFET Medal ribbon.png International Force East Timor Medal (INTERFET)
Australian Service Medal 1945-1975 ribbon.png Australian Service Medal 1945–1975
AUS Centenary Medal ribbon.svg Centenary Medal 1 January 2001 For service to Australian society as Chief of the Defence Force
DFSM with Fed Star.png Defence Force Service Medal with Federation Star 40–44 years service
National Medal (Australia) ribbon.jpg National Medal 16 October 1980 For diligent long service to the community in hazardous circumstances, including in times of emergency and national disaster, in direct protection of life and property
Australian Defence Medal (Australia) ribbon.png Australian Defence Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon with 60- clasp.svg Vietnam Campaign Medal Republic of Vietnam
New Zealand Order of Merit ribbon.svg Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit 5 June 2000 New Zealand
US Legion of Merit Commander ribbon.png Commander of the Legion of Merit United States
Tong-il Security Medal Ribbon.svg Tong-il Medal of the Order of National Security Merit South Korea
Legion Honneur Officier ribbon.svg Officer of the Legion of Honour France
PRT Order of Prince Henry - Grand Cross BAR.svg Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry 28 May 2002 Portugal
Darjah Utama Bakti Cemerlang (Tentera) ribbon.png Distinguished Service Order 7 September 2004 Singapore
Order of Timor-Leste.png Collar of the Order of Timor-Leste 30 August 2009 Timor-Leste
GC.OrdineS.GregorioMagno.png Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Gregory the Great 7 February 2013 Holy See
TON Order of the Crown of Tonga ribbon.svg Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Tonga 3 July 2015 Tonga
ARG Order of the Liberator San Martin - Grand Cross BAR.png Collar of the Order of the Liberator General San Martín 9 August 2016 Argentina
PRT Order of Liberty - Grand Cross BAR.svg Grand Cross of the Order of Liberty 6 July 2018 Portugal
Infantry Combat Badge (Australia).svg Infantry Combat Badge
Other awards
Australian of the Year 26 January 2001 He accepted his Australian of the Year award on behalf of all those Australians who served in East Timor: "I did a lot of the talking, they did all the working."

Honorary appointments

  • Australia 2022–Present: Patron of the Australian Defence Force Cadets
  • Australia 2014–2019: Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps
  • Australia 2014–2019: Colonel of the Regiment of the Royal Australian Regiment
  • Australia 2014–2019: Chief Scout of Australia
  • United Kingdom 2014–2019: Prior of the Order of St John

Honorary degrees

Victoria:

  • 2016 Doctor of Laws (honoris causa), Monash University

Named in his honour

  • the suburb of Cosgrove in the City of Townsville, Queensland
  • The Cosgrove Centre, Waverley College, Sydney, New South Wales

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Peter Cosgrove para niños

  • List of governors-general of Australia
  • List of Australian of the Year Award recipients
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