Vale Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery AC AO CVO MC FRSN

The Royal Australian Regiment Association ACT is saddened to learn of the death of Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery AC AO CVO MC FRSN, on 18 December 2020 at the age of 83. Major General Jeffrey was a brave soldier and a statesman at the highest level, rising to serve as Australia’s twenty-fourth Governor-General.

Major General Jeffery was born in Wiluna, Western Australia, on 12 December 1937, and was educated at Kent Street Senior High School. At 16 he left Perth to attend the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in Canberra. After graduating in 1958, he served in a number of junior positions before being posted to Malaya in 1962 for operational service. From 1966 to 1969 he served in Papua New Guinea. During this posting, he married Marlena Kerr of Sydney, with whom he had three sons and a daughter. This was followed by a tour of duty in the Vietnam War, during which he was awarded the Military Cross (MC). In 1972 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and commanded the 2nd Battalion of the Pacific Islands Regiment from 1974 to 1975. He assumed command of the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) in Perth from 7 January 1976 until 22 October 1977, and was then promoted to colonel as the first Director of the Army’s Special Action Forces in 1979. From 1982 to 1983, he headed Australia’s national counter-terrorist co-ordination authority. In 1985 he was promoted to major general, being appointed to command the 1st Division the following year. In 1990 he became Deputy Chief of the General Staff and in 1991 he was appointed Assistant Chief of the General Staff for Materiel. Major General Jeffery retired from the army in 1993, and was appointed to the ceremonial position of Honorary Colonel of the SASR.

In November 1993, Major General Jeffery was appointed Governor of Western Australia and in June 1996 he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC). He was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) on 1 April 2000. On his retirement as Governor in 2000 he established in Perth, a not for profit research institute – Future Directions International (FDI) – whose object is to examine longer term issues facing Australia. On 20 December 2000, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Technology by Curtin University.

On 11 August 2003 he was sworn in as the twenty-fourth Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, serving until 7 September 2008 becoming the first Australian career soldier to become governor-general. He is survived by his wife, Marlena, their three sons and a daughter, and seven grandchildren.

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