RETURNED servicemen have endorsed Peter Cosgrove as Australia’s next governor-general, following an official announcement by the Prime Minister yesterday.
Tony Abbott nominated the 66-year-old Sydneysider as Governor-General Quentin Bryce’s successor, with Australia’s first female viceroy finishing her term in March.
Ex-servicemen leaders in the south-west approved of the Prime Minister’s choice and praised General Cosgrove for his leadership, especially during the international peacekeeping mission into East Timor 15 years ago.
Camperdown RSL president George Arnott met General Cosgrove several years ago at a Melbourne function and said he was “a very approachable man.”
He said the 2001 Australian of the Year had the capacity to be one of Australia’s greatest governors-general.
“He’s a very approachable man, a real down-to-earth type of character,” Mr Arnott said.
“Sometimes being at the top of the army, or any organisation for that matter, can make you a bit distant but Peter Cosgrove wasn’t like that.
“I was at an RSL function in Melbourne and we had a great chat, he was well-spoken but also very friendly.”
Mr Arnott nominated former state governor Sir Dallas Brooks, who represented the monarch in Victoria from 1949 to 1963, as one of the best vice-regal figures in his lifetime.
“Ninian Stephen (Governor-General 1982-89) and Bill Hayden (1989-96) were pretty good at a national level too,” he said.
The career soldier served as Chief of the Defence Force between 2002 and 2005 and a year later was selected by the Queensland government to lead the rebuilding efforts following Cyclone Larry.
Warrnambool RSL president John Miles said General Cosgrove was highly regarded by ex-servicemen and women across Australia, especially among Vietnam veterans.
Cosgrove served with distinction in Vietnam and Malaysia in the late 1960s and received the Military Cross in 1971.
“You talk to any veterans and they’d say he’s a pretty good choice,” Mr Miles said.
“He’s one of those blokes that’s respected across the board and has shown his leadership skills both inside and outside the army.”
General Cosgrove has been active in public life since leaving the defence force and has served as Australian Catholic University chancellor as well as board positions with the Australian Rugby Union and airline Qantas.
The nomination was given official approval by Buckingham Palace last month.