Governor of South Australia

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Governor of South Australia
Badge of the Governor of South Australia.svg
Badge of the Governor
Flag of the Governor of South Australia.svg
Flag of the Governor
Hieu Van Le 2015.jpg
Hieu Van Le

since 1 September 2014
Style His Excellency the Honourable
Residence Government House, Adelaide
Seat Adelaide
Nominator Premier of South Australia
Appointer Monarch of Australia
on the advice of the Premier
Term length At Her Majesty's pleasure
(usually 5 years by convention)
Formation28 December 1836
First holder Captain John Hindmarsh

The Governor of South Australia is the representative in the Australian state of South Australia of Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia. The Governor performs the same constitutional and ceremonial functions at the state level as does the Governor-General of Australia at the national level. In accordance with the conventions of the Westminster system of parliamentary government, the Governor nearly always acts solely on the advice of the head of the elected government, the Premier of South Australia. Nevertheless, the Governor retains the reserve powers of the Crown, and has the right to dismiss the Premier. As from June 2014, the Queen, upon the recommendation of the Premier, accorded all current, future and living former governors the title 'The Honourable' for life. [1] The first six governors oversaw the colony from proclamation in 1836, until self-government and an elected Parliament of South Australia was granted in the year prior to the inaugural 1857 election.


The first Australian-born Governor of South Australia was Major-General Sir James Harrison (appointed 1968), and most subsequent governors have been Australian-born. The first South Australian-born governor was Sir Mark Oliphant (appointed 1971), and the first Aboriginal governor was Sir Douglas Nicholls (appointed 1976).

In August 2021, diplomat Frances Adamson will be sworn in as governor, [2] replacing Hieu Van Le, [3] who has held the role since 7 August 2014. [4] [5]

The Governor's official residence is Government House, in Adelaide, the state's capital.


Prior to self-government, the Governor was responsible to the Government of the United Kingdom and was charged with implementing laws and policy. Currently, the Governor is responsible for safeguarding the South Australian Constitution and facilitating the work of the Parliament and state government.

The Governor exercises power on the advice of Ministers, conveyed through the Executive Council. Constitutional powers bestowed upon the Governor and used with the consent and advice of the Executive Council include:

The Governor additionally maintains 'reserve powers' which can be used without the consent of the Executive Council. These powers relate to the appointment and dismissal of Ministers and Parliament. [6]

Governor's standard

The governor standard of South Australia is the same design as the British blue ensign with the Union Flag at the upper left quarter. On the right side, the State Badge of South Australia, comprising a piping shrike in a golden disc, is surmounted by the St. Edward's crown.

If the standard is flying at Government House, on a vehicle or at an event, this indicates that the Governor is present.

Past and present standards of the governor

List of governors of South Australia

No.PortraitGovernor [7] Term beginTerm endTime in office
Governor appointed by King William IV (1830–1837):
1 Governor John Hindmarsh.jpg Rear Admiral Sir John Hindmarsh KH 28 December 183616 July 18381 year, 200 days
Governors appointed by Queen Victoria (1837–1901):
2 George Gawler.jpg Lieutenant-Colonel George Gawler KH 17 October 183815 May 18412 years, 210 days
3 GeorgeEdwardGrey02.jpg Sir George Grey KCB 15 May 184125 October 18454 years, 163 days
4 Frederick Robe.jpg Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Holt Robe 25 October 18452 August 18482 years, 282 days
5 Sir Henry Young.jpg Sir Henry Fox Young KCMG 2 August 184820 December 18546 years, 140 days
6 Richard Graves MacDonnell.jpg Sir Richard Graves MacDonnell KCMG , CB 8 June 18554 March 18626 years, 269 days
7 DominickDaly.jpg Sir Dominick Daly 4 March 186219 February 18685 years, 352 days
8 Sir James Fergusson.jpg The Rt Hon. Sir James Fergusson Bt 16 February 186918 April 18734 years, 61 days
9 AnthonyMusgrave.jpg Sir Anthony Musgrave KCMG 9 June 187329 January 18773 years, 234 days
10 William Jervois.jpg Lieutenant-General Sir William Jervois GCMG , CB 2 October 18779 January 18835 years, 99 days
11 Williamrobinson.jpg Sir William Robinson GCMG 19 February 18835 March 18896 years, 14 days
12 Algernon Keith-Falconer.jpg The Rt Hon. Earl of Kintore GCMG 11 April 188910 April 18955 years, 364 days
13 ThomasFowellBuxton.jpg Sir Thomas Buxton Bt , GCMG 29 October 189529 March 18993 years, 151 days
14 Ac.tennyson.jpg The Rt Hon. Lord Tennyson GCMG 10 April 189917 July 19023 years, 98 days
Governors appointed by King Edward VII (1901–1910):
15 GeorgeLeHunte.jpg Sir George Le Hunte KCMG 1 July 190318 February 19095 years, 232 days
16 Day Bosanquet.jpg Admiral Sir Day Bosanquet GCVO , KCB 18 February 190922 March 19145 years, 32 days
Governors appointed by King George V (1910–1936):
17 Henry Galway.jpg Lieutenant Colonel Sir Henry Galway KCMG , DSO 18 April 191430 April 19206 years, 12 days
18 William Weigall.jpg Lieutenant Colonel Sir William Archibald Weigall KCMG 9 June 192030 May 19221 year, 355 days
19 Tom Bridges 1918.jpg Lieutenant-General Sir Tom Bridges KCB , KCMG , DSO 4 December 19224 December 19275 years, 0 days
20 Lordgowrie.jpg Brigadier The Hon. Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven VC , KCMG , CB , DSO* 14 May 192826 April 19345 years, 347 days
21 Winston Dugan.jpg Major-General Sir Winston Dugan KCMG , CB , DSO 28 July 193423 February 19394 years, 210 days
Governors appointed by King George VI (1936–1952):
22 Malcolm Barclay-Harvey.jpg Sir Malcolm Barclay-Harvey KCMG 12 August 193926 April 19444 years, 258 days
23 Willoughby Norrie.jpg Lieutenant-General Sir Willoughby Norrie KCMG , CB , DSO , MC 19 December 194419 June 19527 years, 183 days
Governors appointed by Queen Elizabeth II (since 1952):
24 Robert George 1956.jpg Air Vice-Marshal Sir Robert George KCMG , KCVO , KBE , CB , MC 23 February 19537 March 19607 years, 13 days
25 Badge of the Governor of South Australia.svg Lieutenant-General Sir Edric Bastyan KCMG , KCVO , KBE , CB 4 April 19611 June 19687 years, 58 days
26 Badge of the Governor of South Australia.svg Major General Sir James Harrison KCMG , CB , CBE 4 December 196816 September 19712 years, 286 days
27 Sir Mark Oliphant.jpg Professor Sir Mark Oliphant AC , KBE 1 December 197130 November 19764 years, 365 days
28 Douglas nicholls.jpg Sir Douglas Nicholls KCVO , OBE 1 December 197630 April 1977150 days
29 Badge of the Governor of South Australia.svg Reverend Sir Keith Seaman KCVO , OBE 1 September 197728 March 19824 years, 208 days
30 Badge of the Governor of South Australia.svg Lieutenant General Sir Donald Dunstan AC , KBE , CB 23 April 19825 February 19918 years, 288 days
31 Roma Mitchell 1965.jpg The Hon. Dame Roma Mitchell AC , DBE , CVO , QC 6 February 199121 July 19965 years, 166 days
32 Sir Eric Neal in Adelaide, South Australia 2016.jpg Sir Eric Neal AC , CVO 22 July 19963 November 20015 years, 104 days
33 Marjorie Jackson.jpg Marjorie Jackson-Nelson AC , CVO , MBE 3 November 200131 July 20075 years, 242 days
34 Kevin Scarce in 2008.jpg Rear Admiral The Hon. Kevin Scarce AC , CSC 8 August 20077 August 20146 years, 364 days
35 Hieu Van Le 2015.jpg The Hon. Hieu Van Le AC 1 September 2014present6 years, 267 days
36 Frances Adamson (1).jpg Frances Adamson August 2021

Administrators and lieutenant-governors

These people administered the government in the absence of the official governor. [7]

George Milner Stephen 1838
Boyle Travers Finniss 1854-55
Lt.-Col. Francis Gilbert Hamley 1868-69
Major James Harwood Rocke 1870
Hon. Sir Richard Davies Hanson, Chief Justice1872-73
Sir William Wellington Cairns, K.C.M.G1877
Hon. Samuel James Way, Chief Justice, Lt.-Gov.1877 to 1915 (on 65 separate occasions)
Hon. James Penn Boucaut, Judge of Supreme Court1885, 1886, 1888, 1890, 1891, 1897
Hon. William Henry Bundey, Judge of Supreme Court1888
Hon. Sir George John Robert Murray, Chief Justice, Lt.-Gov.1916–24, 1926–42 (on 103 separate occasions)
Hon. Thomas Slaney Poole, Judge of Supreme Court1925 (on 2 occasions)
Hon. Sir Herbert Angas Parsons, Judge of Supreme Court1935 to 1942 (on 6 separate occasions)
Hon. Sir John Mellis Napier, Chief Justice, Lt.-Gov.1942 to 1973 (on 179 separate occasions)
Hon. Sir Herbert Mayo, Judge of Supreme Court1946 to 1965 (on 25 separate occasions)
Hon. Sir Geoffrey Sandford Reed, Judge of Supreme Court1951 to 1957 (on 5 separate occasions)
Hon. John Jefferson Bray, Chief Justice1968 to 1973 (on 8 separate occasions)
Hon. David Stirling Hogarth, Judge of Supreme Court1971
Sir Walter Crocker, Lt.-Gov.1973 to 1982 (on 29 separate occasions)
Hon. Sir Condor Laucke, Lt.-Gov.1982 to 1992 (on 43 separate occasions)
Hon. Leonard James King, A.C., Chief Justice1987
Hon. Dr. Basil Hetzel, Lt.-Gov.1992 to 2000 (on 32 separate occasions)
Hon. John Doyle, Chief Justice1999-2012 (on 10 separate occasions)
Hon. Bruno Krumins, Lt.-Gov.2000-2007 (on 60 separate occasions)
Hon. John William Perry, Judge of Supreme Court2002
Hon. Hieu Van Le, Lt.-Gov.2007–2014
Hon. Brenda Wilson, Lt.-Gov.2014–date

Living former governors

Three former governors are alive, the oldest being Sir Eric Neal (1996–2001, born 1924). The latest-serving former governor to die was Dame Roma Mitchell (1991–1996), on 5 March 2000. The most recent death of a former governor was that of Sir Keith Seaman (1977-1982), on 30 June 2013.

NameTerm as governorDate of birth
Sir Eric Neal 1996–20013 June 1924 (age 96)
Marjorie Jackson-Nelson 2001–200713 September 1931 (age 89)
Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce 2007–20144 May 1952 (age 69)

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  1. SA Government Gazette
  2. Frances Adamson announced as South Australia's new governor, replacing Hieu Van Le - ABC News, ABC News, 19 May 2021
  3. Former refugee Hieu Van Le sworn in as South Australia's governor during official ceremony, ABC News, 1 September 2014.
  4. Hieu Van Le to be next SA Governor, from war-torn Vietnam to vice-regal post: ABC 26 June 2014
  5. Kevin Scarce appointed SA governor by Premier Mike Rann Archived 31 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine , Press release, 3 May 2007,
  6. "Role of the Governor". Government House South Australia. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  7. 1 2 "Table A: Governors and Administrators" (PDF). Parliament of South Australia. 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 March 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2013.