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Dame Quentin Bryce
Quentin Bryce No.1 (cropped).jpg
25th Governor-General of Australia
In office
5 September 2008 – 28 March 2014
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterKevin Rudd
Julia Gillard
Tony Abbott
Preceded byMichael Jeffery
Succeeded bySir Peter Cosgrove
24th Governor of Queensland
In office
29 July 2003 – 29 July 2008
MonarchElizabeth II
PremierPeter Beattie
Anna Bligh
Preceded byPeter Arnison
Succeeded byPenelope Wensley
Personal details
Quentin Alice Louise Strachan

(1942-12-23) 23 December 1942 (age 78)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
(m. 1964; died 2021)
Alma materUniversity of Queensland

Dame Quentin Alice Louise Bryce, AD, CVO (née Strachan; born 23 December 1942) is an Australian academic who served as the 25th Governor-General of Australia from 2008 to 2014. She is the first woman to have held the position, and was previously the 24th Governor of Queensland from 2003 to 2008.[1]

Born in Brisbane, Queensland, Bryce was raised in Ilfracombe, with her family subsequently living in a number of country towns around Australia. She attended the University of Queensland, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws, becoming one of the first women accepted to the Queensland Bar.

In 1968, Bryce became the first woman appointed as a faculty member of the law school where she had studied, and in 1978 she joined the new National Women's Advisory Council (later National Women's Consultative Council and then Australian Council for Women[2]). This was followed by appointment to a number of positions, including the first Director of the Queensland Women's Information Service, the Queensland Director of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, and the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner in 1988. Her services to the community saw her appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1988, and a Companion of the Order of Australia and Dame of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in 2003. In 2011, Elizabeth II invested Bryce as a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order at Government House.[3]

Bryce was appointed Governor of Queensland in 2003. Although concerns were raised by some over her time in the office, her five-year term was going to be extended until 2009. However, on 13 April 2008, it was announced by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that Bryce was to become the next Governor-General of Australia. The decision was generally well-received and on 5 September 2008 Bryce was sworn in, succeeding Major General Michael Jeffery and becoming the first woman to hold the office.[4] Bryce's tenure was not without criticism.[5] In an unprecedented move for an incumbent governor-general, Bryce made public comments in November 2013 widely interpreted as supporting an Australian republic and same-sex marriage.[6] She was succeeded by General Sir Peter Cosgrove as governor-general on 28 March 2014.[7]

Early life and education

Quentin and Michael Bryce
Quentin and Michael Bryce

Quentin Alice Louise Strachan was born in 1942 in Brisbane,[8] the second of four daughters.[9] Her parents, Norman Walter Strachan and Edwina Naida Wetzel,[8] had taken up residence at Ilfracombe in 1940. Bryce—along with all of the children in her family—received home-schooling rather than attending the local State school.[10] Her family left the area in 1949, initially relocating to Launceston, Tasmania, where they remained for approximately a year. Returning to Queensland, her family moved to Belmont. While living in Belmont she attended the Camp Hill State School, and there first met her future husband, Michael Bryce.[11] She was a member of Girl Guides Australia as a Brownie.[12]

During the period that they were residing in Belmont, her father moved to Tenterfield, New South Wales. In 1956, Quentin Strachan started attending boarding school at Moreton Bay College, Wynnum, Brisbane.[13]

Upon graduating from high school, Quentin Strachan undertook studies at the University of Queensland, initially enrolling in a social work and arts degree, but transferring to law in her third year at the institution.[13] She graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Arts in 1962 and a Bachelor of Laws in 1965.[14][15] That year she became one of the first women to be admitted to the Queensland Bar,[16] although she never practised professionally.[11]

Quentin Strachan married Michael Bryce on 12 December 1964; the couple have two daughters and three sons.[8][17] Michael Bryce died on 15 January 2021, aged 82 years.[18][19]


Bryce at Floriade, the national flower show in Canberra on 3 October 2010.
Bryce at Floriade, the national flower show in Canberra on 3 October 2010.

After spending some time in London, Bryce returned to Australia and accepted a part-time tutoring position at the T. C. Beirne School of Law at the University of Queensland in 1968, thus becoming the first woman to be appointed to the faculty.[20] In 1969 she took up a lecturing position at the law school,[21] and she continued to teach at the university until 1983.[11]

In 1978 the Fraser government formed the National Women's Advisory Council and Bryce was "vaulted to prominence" with her appointment to the council,[11] taking on the role of convener in 1982.[21] In 1984 she became the first director of the Queensland Women's Information Service under the umbrella of the Office of the Status of Women[22] and was appointed as the "women's representative on the National Committee on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation".[21] In 1987 she became the Queensland director of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC).[22]

Over a five-year period (1988–1993) Bryce served as Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner during the time of the Hawke Labor government.[23] Her time in the role was a busy one, with around 2,000 complaints being handled by the commission each year and the work difficult and complex.[24] The period was also noted as being one of "galloping legal reform" for the rights of women, yet, as Sandra McLean described it, Bryce kept a firm grip on the "reins of change" during this time.[23] Nevertheless, concerns were raised when, in 1990, Alexander Proudfoot formally complained that the women's health centres in the Australian Capital Territory were operating in breach of the Sex Discrimination Act.[22] This culminated in 1994 when Bryce faced an HREOC hearing after being accused of discriminating against Proudfoot – and ended when the commission found in Bryce's favour and dismissed the complaint, stating that the behaviour in question "did not reflect on the way Ms Bryce discharged her duties".[25]

After finishing her time as the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Bryce became the founding chair and chief executive officer of the National Childcare Accreditation Council, where she remained for three years[22] before changing direction between 1997 and 2003 when she became the principal and chief executive officer of The Women's College within the University of Sydney, New South Wales.[26] The move was said to have "stunned her political and legal acquaintances",[11] but Bryce saw it as bringing "together all the life skills and attributes" that she had acquired, as well as providing an opportunity to have an influence on the students' futures.[27]

In other roles, Bryce has been the chair of the National Breast Cancer Advisory Council and sat on the Australian Women's Cricket Board,[27] and has been a member of organisations such as the YWCA, the Australian Children's Television Foundation and the Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospital.[28] Bryce was also a US State Department Visitor in 1978 and a Member of the Australian Delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland from 1989 to 1991.[8]

Governor of Queensland

Bryce (far right) during a March 2009 visit to Africa.
Bryce (far right) during a March 2009 visit to Africa.

In 2003, on the recommendation of the Premier of Queensland, Peter Beattie, Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, appointed Bryce as Governor of Queensland, the second woman to occupy the position.[22] Once Bryce's nomination had been accepted by the Queen, Beattie opened it up for debate in the Legislative Assembly—an "unprecedented" move performed by the Premier as the first step in changing the manner by which the nominations are managed.[23] Nevertheless, the outcome was never in doubt, as Beattie had a majority in the Legislative Assembly and had "cleared the vote with the National and Liberal leaders" prior to the debate.[22]

Bryce's time at Government House, Brisbane, was not always peaceful, but she was considered by some as a "highly respected figure" during her time as governor.[29] Concerns raised in the media included the "substantial" exit of staff at Government House not long after Bryce became governor, as at least eight staff, including the executive office, head chef, house manager and gardener resigned or were fired during her term,[30] and the use of Government House for private parties.[31] In response to the latter, Beattie argued that there was nothing wrong with holding private functions at Government House, especially as Bryce had paid for the events out of her own pocket,[31] while the Queensland Public Sector Union stated in 2008 that the staff disputes were "with the management as a whole, but there wasn't anything specific against the Governor".[32] Staff at Queensland Government House had "not [been] enthusiastic" about Bryce as Queensland governor.[33] A former staff member described Bryce as a "control freak".[33] During this time, Bryce was the Patron of Girl Guides Queensland.[34]

In January 2008, it was announced her initial five-year term, due to end in late July, was to be extended to cover the period of Queensland's sesquicentennial celebrations in 2009.[35] In making the announcement, Labor Premier Anna Bligh described how Bryce had been an "inspiring leader" while serving as governor, and acknowledged Bryce's willingness to spend a "great deal of time" in regional and remote areas, serving as a "Governor for all of Queensland".[36] The extension did not eventuate, however, as she was appointed governor-general, and she was succeeded as Queensland governor on 29 July 2008 by Penelope Wensley.[37]

Governor-General of Australia

Bryce after an interview at Regatta Point at the Australia Day ceremony in Canberra on 26 January 2010
Bryce after an interview at Regatta Point at the Australia Day ceremony in Canberra on 26 January 2010
Former Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard with Quentin Bryce, former Governor-General of Australia.
Former Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard with Quentin Bryce, former Governor-General of Australia.

On 13 April 2008 it was announced that, on the recommendation of the Labor Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, Queen Elizabeth II had approved Bryce's appointment as the next Governor-General of Australia.[38] The decision was generally well received: current and previous Labor state premiers supported her selection and both the then Leader of the Opposition, Brendan Nelson, and the leader of the Australian Greens, Bob Brown, spoke in favour of the decision.[39] Patricia Edgar described Bryce's selection as an "inspired choice",[40] while Jill Singer in the Herald Sun said that the decision signalled "an important about face for Australia".[41]

There was some opposition to the appointment, in particular from columnist Des Houghton, who argued that she would bring a "fair bit of baggage" to the role (in reference to the controversies surrounding her time as the Governor of Queensland) and that she had failed to live up to her promise to be outspoken during her time at Government House.[42] Concerns were also raised in August 2008, when it was revealed that Bryce intended to replace Malcolm Hazell, who had been the Official Secretary for both Major General Michael Jeffery and Peter Hollingworth, with Stephen Brady. Kevin Rudd defended Bryce's decision, arguing that she had the right to appoint a new Official Secretary.[43]

Bryce was sworn in on 5 September 2008. An extension of her term was announced on 24 October 2012, to expire in March 2014.[44][45] During this time, she served as the Patron of Girl Guides Australia.[12]

On the election of Bill Shorten as Leader of the Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition in October 2013, Bryce offered her resignation to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, in order to forestall any perception of bias, given that Bryce's daughter Chloe is married to Shorten.[46] While acknowledging her magnanimity, Abbott declined to accept her resignation and asked her to serve the rest of her term.[47] According to him Bryce provided continuity at a time of political turbulence and she should be commended for her dedication to public service.[48]


Greg Sheridan, in the national newspaper The Australian, suggested that the governor-general risked "politicising and misusing the office".[49] Sheridan was commenting on Bryce's planned trip to Africa on behalf of the prime minister to lobby for a seat for Australia in the United Nations Security Council.[49] He further stated that Bryce's "feigned interest in Africa will be seen cynically by Africans".[49] Sheridan added that governors-general should travel overseas "only rarely and for ceremonial purposes",[49] and "they have no right to engage in foreign policy debate, at home or abroad".[49]

David Flint, National Convenor of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy,[50] said that any criticism of the South African tour should be directed to the government and not the governor-general.[51] He said: "The Governor-General must act on advice, except in relation to her most important role, that of constitutional guardian. She may advise against a state visit, but if ministers insist, must go. In that event, she must not of course act as an advocate, although she may inform the foreign government of the Australian government's policy."[51] He said that a governor-general must be seen to be above politics.[51]

Similarly to her time as governor in Queensland, Government House in Canberra witnessed significant staff turnover, with claims that she was very difficult to work for.[52][53]

In November 2013, Bryce delivered the annual ABC Boyer Lecture. Bryce stated she would like to see an Australia where: "people are free to love and marry whom they choose [...] And where perhaps, my friends, one day, one young girl or boy may even grow up to be our nation's first head of state".[54] Her comments drew severe criticism, not merely for their support of a republic while still serving as the Queen's representative, but because the role is meant to be strictly non-partisan. Senator Dean Smith called them "a slap in the face to many, many Australians, and a significant breach of trust".[55] Amanda Vanstone accused her of possible grandstanding, and wrote: "In publicly declaring these views, she has brought that high office into a political realm in which it does not belong ... Someone might explain to her that the job is not about her ... it's about us."[56] Although the Australian republican movement supported her comments, head of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy David Flint stated that: "There's this sense of division that she's created and the position is not intended to be divisive—it's intended to unite and be above politics."[55] Prime Minister Tony Abbott supported her right to comment, saying "It's more than appropriate for the Governor-General, approaching the end of her term, to express a personal view on a number of subjects, and that's what she was doing."[57]


Viceregal styles of
Quentin Bryce
Badge of the Governor-General of Australia.svg
Reference styleHer Excellency the Honourable
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Dame of the Order of Australia (AD) 19 March 2014[58]
Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) 30 April 2003[59]
Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) 26 January 1988 "In recognition of service to the community, particularly to women and children".[60]
Royal Victorian Order UK ribbon.png
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) 26 October 2011 by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II during her Royal Visit.[61][62]
Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png
Dame of Grace of The Most Venerable Order of The Hospital of St John of Jerusalem November 2003[14]
Australian Sports Medal ribbon.png
Australian Sports Medal 5 December 2000 "For Services to Women's Cricket".[63]
Centenary Medal (Australia) ribbon.png
Centenary Medal 1 January 2001 "For service to Australian society in business leadership".[64]
Commemorative Medal for the 30th Anniversary of Vanuatu 30 July 2010[65]
Order of the Crown of Tonga - ribbon bar.gif
Grand Cross of the Royal Order of the Crown October 2010 Invested by His Majesty, King George Tupou V, King of Tonga.[66]

Honorary military positions

Honorary degrees


New South Wales:

Bryce is a Life Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law.[70] She was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia in 2010.[71]


  1. ^ Pollard (13 April 2008)
  2. ^ "National Women's Consultative Council. (1984-1992)". Trove. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  3. ^ "Governor-General's Investiture; Departure of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh from Canberra; Credentials; State Dinner in Honour of the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria". Australian Government. 2011. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  4. ^ "Australia gets first woman Governor General". The Age. Australian Associated Press. 5 September 2008. Archived from the original on 19 April 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  5. ^ Monarchists decry Governor-General Quentin Bryce's support for a republic, Radio Australia, 23 November 2013
  6. ^ "Monarchists decry Governor-General Quentin Bryce's support for a republic Archived 4 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine", Radio Australia, 23 November 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 February 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ a b c d e Singh (2010)
  9. ^ Condon (10 May 2008), p. 14. There are differing reports on both the place of birth and the number of children born to the Strachan family: while Condon provides Brisbane as the location of her birth, he acknowledges that others have identified Longreach as her birthplace. Condon quotes Bryce as saying: "My mother came to Brisbane to have me. She had had a child between my eldest sister and me, who died. I presume that's why she came to Brisbane."
  10. ^ Condon (10 May 2008), p. 14. "Although they lived within a short walk of the Ilfracombe State School, all the Strachan girls, except Diana, were home-schooled by their mother. 'I don't know why she decided to teach us at home', Bryce muses. 'Maybe she wanted to start me earlier. She would have thought it was best for me.'"
  11. ^ a b c d e Condon (10 May 2008), p. 14
  12. ^ a b Martin, Lisa (28 February 2010). "Girl Guides celebrate centenary". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  13. ^ a b Murphy, Snow & Dick (19 April 2008), p. 27.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g "Ms Quentin Bryce, AC: 24th Governor of Queensland" (PDF). Government House Queensland. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 May 2008. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  15. ^ "Quentin Bryce, Queensland Governor". University of Queensland alumni. University of Queensland. Archived from the original on 1 April 2008. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  16. ^ Condon (10 May 2008) quotes Naida Haxton, who places Bryce as the seventh woman to be admitted to the Queensland bar. This is supported by other sources, (such as The Supreme Court of Queensland Library) which place Katharine McGregor as the first woman admitted. Nevertheless, some commentators – for example Murphy (2008) and Barrowclough (2008) – have stated that Bryce was the first to be appointed.
  17. ^ "Their Excellencies the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO and Mr Michael Bryce AM AE". Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  18. ^ Dame Quentin Bryce's husband Michael dies, aged 82, Morning Bulletin, 2021-01-16
  19. ^ Big plans for national design gallery, Craig Allen, ABC News Online, 5 Jun 2009, accessed 2021-01-16
  20. ^ Condon (10 May 2008) once again quotes Naida Haxton, who clarifies that Bryce was the first woman on staff, but that Haxton was the first woman to teach in the faculty, having lectured prior to Bryce's appointment, but not as a faculty member.
  21. ^ a b c Wright (11 March 2003), p. 13.
  22. ^ a b c d e f Murphy (14 April 2008)
  23. ^ a b c McLean (15 March 2003), p. 31.
  24. ^ Summers (6 August 2001), p. 10.
  25. ^ Williams (14 April 2008), p. 4.
  26. ^ "History". The Women's College within the University of Sydney. Archived from the original on 12 April 2008. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  27. ^ a b Packham (14 April 2003), p. 5
  28. ^ "Appointment of Governor of Queensland" (PDF). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Queensland Parliament Legislative Assembly. 11 March 2003. pp. 374–375. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 April 2016.
  29. ^ Schubert (14 April 2008), p. 1.
  30. ^ Barrowclough (5 September 2008)
  31. ^ a b "Partying OK says Beattie" (16 April 2005), p. 17.
  32. ^ Elks (15 April 2008), p. 3.
  33. ^ a b Barrowclough, Anne (5 September 2008). "Australia's first female governor general is sworn in". The Times (subscription needed). London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  34. ^ "Advocacy at the heart of Australia's young women". Australian Women Online. 28 April 2008. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  35. ^ Springborg backs Bryce term extension (28 January 2008)
  36. ^ Giles (27 January 2008), p. 3.
  37. ^ Binne (29 July 2008)
  38. ^ "Announcement of the appointment of a new Governor-General of Australia". Buckingham Palace. Archived from the original on 5 November 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2011.
  39. ^ Cooke (14 April 2008), p. 5.
  40. ^ Edgar (19 April 2008), p. 53.
  41. ^ Singer (15 April 2008), p. 19.
  42. ^ Houghton (19 April 2008), p. 12.
  43. ^ Shanahan (26 August 2008), p. 12.
  44. ^ "Bryce's term as Governor-General extended". ABC News. 24 October 2012. Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  45. ^ "The Governor General". Media release. Prime Minister The Hon Julia Gillard MP. Archived from the original on 28 November 2012. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  46. ^ Griffiths, Emma (13 October 2013). "Bill Shorten elected Labor leader over Anthony Albanese after month-long campaign". ABC News. Australia. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  47. ^ Harrison, Dan (13 October 2013). "Governor-General Quentin Bryce offered to resign, says PM". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 13 October 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  48. ^ Quentin Bryce offers to quit but Tony Abbott declines Archived 25 July 2016 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 13 October 2013
  49. ^ a b c d e Sheridan, Greg (9 March 2009). "A price too high to pay". The Australian. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  50. ^ Bolt, Andrew (31 August 2011). "Down muzzle of censorship". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 15 January 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  51. ^ a b c Flint, David, Australian For Constitutional Monarchy, 11 March 2009
  52. ^ "Staff desert Australia's Governor-General Quentin Bryce". Archived from the original on 11 June 2016. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  53. ^ Chalmers, Emma (19 October 2009). "Governor-General Quentin Bryce loses one-third of her staff". Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  54. ^ #, # (22 November 2013). "Governor-General Quentin Bryce backs gay marriage, Australia becoming a republic in Boyer Lecture". ABC News. Archived from the original on 22 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  55. ^ a b "G-G's support for republic, same-sex marriage a 'slap in the face'". ABC News. Archived from the original on 7 January 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  56. ^ Vanstone, Amanda (25 November 2013). "The 'look-at-me' G-G". The Age. Archived from the original on 14 November 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  57. ^ "Monarchists decry Governor-General Quentin Bryce's support for a republic; Coalition says issue 'not a priority'". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 23 November 2013. Archived from the original on 25 November 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  58. ^ "Award Extract – Australian Honours Search Facility: BRYCE, Quentin Alice Louise". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 1150526. Archived from the original on 5 March 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  59. ^ "Award Extract – Australian Honours Search Facility: BRYCE, Quentin". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 1129439. Archived from the original on 5 March 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  60. ^ "Award Extract – Australian Honours Search Facility: BRYCE, Quentin Alice Louise". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 872510. Archived from the original on 5 March 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  61. ^ "Governor-General's Investiture; Departure of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh from Canberra; Credentials; State Dinner in Honour of the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria". Australian Government. 2011. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  62. ^ "London Gazette". The Gazette. 18 November 2011. Archived from the original on 7 January 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  63. ^ "Award Extract – Australian Honours Search Facility: BRYCE, Quentin". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 972438. Archived from the original on 5 March 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
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  65. ^ "Vanuatu's 30th Anniversary of Independence celebrations". Australian Government. 2010. Archived from the original on 15 March 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2011.
  66. ^ "Newcastle Museum; Anglican Care Scenic Lodge Merewether; East Lake Macquarie Dementia Services; Leapfrog; Dinner for the King of Tonga". Australian Government. 2010. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  67. ^ "2016 Queensland Greats recipients". Queensland Government. Archived from the original on 31 May 2017. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
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  70. ^ "Australian Academy of Law - Member public profile". Australian Academy of Law. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
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External links

Government offices
Preceded by Sex Discrimination Commissioner
Succeeded by
Sue Walpole
Preceded by Governor of Queensland
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor-General of Australia
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 8 September 2021, at 10:17
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