Former defence chief Peter Cosgrove new Australian governor general

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 January, 2014, 10:17pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 3:12am

Former defence forces chief Peter Cosgrove was yesterday appointed Australia's new governor general, representing Queen Elizabeth in the constitutional monarchy.

Cosgrove, 66, had long been considered the conservative government's preferred candidate to replace Quentin Bryce, whose term expires in March.

The retired general commanded the international peacekeeping force that oversaw East Timor's transition to independence and also served as a platoon commander in the Vietnam war.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the queen had approved Cosgrove's recommendation, describing him as someone who had "dedicated his life to serving and supporting the Australian community".

"Throughout his life he has demonstrated a commitment to our country and a commitment to service. He has given service of the very highest order," he said.

Though the role is largely ceremonial, the governor general can intervene in the government. In 1975, then-appointee John Kerr famously dismissed the Labor government amid a constitutional crisis.