Air force legend in line to be next G-G

RETIRED Defence Force chief Sir Angus Houston is a favourite to replace Sir Peter Cosgrove as Governor-General.

The Daily Telegraph understands Prime Minister Scott Morrison is considering appointing the air chief marshal for the prestigious position. However he does not at this stage have a formal list of candidates prepared.

With Sir Peter's term ending in March next year, Mr Morrison has canvassed close colleagues with the option of ­appointing Sir Angus to the position.

 

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston on an Afghanistan mission.
Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston on an Afghanistan mission.
Peter Cosgrove was appointed Governor-General in 2014.
Peter Cosgrove was appointed Governor-General in 2014.

Those discussions touched on whether it would be appropriate to appoint two consecutive defence figures and whether a woman should also be considered for the role.

Former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was understood to be interested in the position but Mr Morrison has privately indicated he is unlikely to appoint her.

News of her interest prompted Opposition leader Bill Shorten to write to Mr Morrison, asking for the appointment of the new Governor-General to be delayed until after the next election.

Sir Angus with former prime minister Tony Abbott.
Sir Angus with former prime minister Tony Abbott.

"Given that a general election must be held in or before May of next year, an extension to his term would allow an incoming Prime Minister to nominate to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II an appropriate successor and new Governor-General following the next election," Mr Shorten said in the letter.

The Daily Telegraph understands Labor would support the appointment of Sir Angus to the position of Governor-General.

 

Peter Cosgrove, then a major general, with wife Lynne after returning from East Timor in 2000.
Peter Cosgrove, then a major general, with wife Lynne after returning from East Timor in 2000.

Highly respected by both sides of politics, he has been appointed to senior positions under Labor and Coalition governments - and is often considered the federal Mr Fixit.

Sir Angus retired as Chief of the Australian Defence Force in July 2011, a position he'd held since 2005, after 41 years of service in the military.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott named him as a knight in the 2015 Australia Day honours, recognising his "extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit in service to Australia".

Before being awarded the top honour Sir Angus was made an Officer of the order of Australia in 2003 and then the higher companion of the order in 2008.

On his retirement in 2011, then prime minister Julia Gillard revealed during a farewell speech that "every woman is a little bit in love with Angus".

"We're a little bit in love with Angus because of his qualities, and they just shine through," she said at the time.

"Angus Houston is so completely an officer and so completely a gentleman."



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