Kevin Scarce

Rear Admiral Kevin John Scarce, AC, CSC (born 4 May 1952) is a retired Royal Australian Navy officer who was the 34th Governor of South Australia, serving from August 2007 to August 2014. He was succeeded by Hieu Van Le, who had previously been his lieutenant governor. He was Chancellor of the University of Adelaide from 2014 to 2020.

Rear Admiral The Honourable
Kevin Scarce
Chancellor of the University of Adelaide
In office
1 December 2014 (2014-12-01)  4 May 2020 (2020-05-04)
Preceded byRobert Hill
Succeeded byCatherine Branson
34th Governor of South Australia
In office
8 August 2007  7 August 2014
MonarchElizabeth II
PremierMike Rann (2007–11)
Jay Weatherill (2011–2014)
LieutenantHieu Van Le
Preceded byMarjorie Jackson-Nelson
Succeeded byHieu Van Le
Personal details
Born (1952-05-04) 4 May 1952[1]
Adelaide, South Australia
SpouseElizabeth Anne Taylor
ChildrenKasha Scarce
Kingsley Scarce
Residence(s)Adelaide, South Australia
Alma materUniversity of New England
OccupationChancellor of the University of Adelaide (20142020)
Military service
Branch/serviceRoyal Australian Navy
Years of service1968–2007
RankRear Admiral
UnitHMAS Sydney
HMAS Watson
CommandsNaval Training Command (1997–98)
HMAS Cerberus (1995–97)
Battles/warsVietnam War
AwardsCompanion of the Order of Australia
Conspicuous Service Cross

Early life

Born in Adelaide, South Australia on 4 May 1952, Scarce spent his early childhood in Woomera and attended Elizabeth East Primary School and Elizabeth High School.[2]


Military service

Scarce joined the Royal Australian Navy College in 1968 and graduated in 1972, having distinguished himself as an all-round sportsman. In 1973, he continued his training with the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom. On his return to Australia, he served on HMA Ships Vendetta, Yarra and Duchess, at the Sydney shore base HMAS Watson and on the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne.

Scarce served during the Vietnam War on the troop transport HMAS Sydney.[3] After Vietnam, his naval career specialised in military logistics and procurement. He served on the staff of the Australian Embassy's Naval Attaché in Washington, D.C. from 1979 to 1982 and in 1994 returned to Washington to undertake a master's degree in National Security Strategy at the US War College (National Defense University).

In Australia, Scarce rose to the rank of rear admiral and Head of Maritime Systems at the Defence Materiel Organisation. Scarce also served as the commander of HMAS Cerberus between 1995 and 1997.

In 2004 and 2005, Rear Admiral Scarce served as Chief Executive Officer of the South Australian Government Defence Unit. The unit was tasked to expand business opportunities for the State's defence sector. Scarce played a key role in South Australia's winning bid for a A$6 billion defence contract to build three air warfare destroyers for the Australian Defence Force.[4] He was also Chairman of the Defence Industry Advisory Board at the time.[2]

Governor of South Australia

On 3 May 2007, it was announced that Scarce would become Governor of South Australia – the Queen's representative in the state. After his appointment he broke the tenets of viceregal impartiality by publicly stating that he is an avowed supporter of an Australian republic.[5] When appointed, he was the youngest South Australian-born governor and the first Royal Australian Navy officer appointed to the position.[6] In 2008, Scarce was appointed the Patron of Debating SA.

As governor, Scarce stressed the importance of science and maths education, and continued to champion economic opportunities in South Australia's defense sector. In 2010 he told Defense Business SA magazine:

My major role as Governor is helping to sell the opportunities of investing in South Australia. I welcome visiting delegations and travel overseas helping to promote the state's capabilities and aspirations.[7]

On 13 February 2012, Scarce's term was extended by two years to 7 August 2014.[8] Hieu Van Le, Scarce's lieutenant-governor, was announced on 26 June 2014 as Scarce's replacement, and took over the role on 1 September.[9]

Also during his incumbency, Scarce presented the deed of title at the Maralinga Tjarutja Section 400 Handback Ceremony at the Maralinga Village.[10] Section 400 was a 3,126 km2 parcel of land, located 136 kilometres (85 mi) from the Oak Valley Aboriginal Community. The ceremony marked the return of Section 400 to its traditional owners, which had previously been disallowed access due to radioactive contamination. The contamination was a legacy of a program of British nuclear weapons tests which ran from 1956 until 1963. Seven major nuclear weapons tests occurred in 1956 and 1957 followed by a series of 'minor' tests which included the explosive scattering of 22 kilograms (49 lb) of plutonium.[11]

Not-for-profit sector

Since ending his term as Governor of South Australia, Scarce has remained active in South Australia's not-for-profit sector. He was appointed Chairman of the Cancer Council of South Australia in November 2014[12] and has since met many beneficiaries of the organisation's fundraising, research, education and services. He told The Advertiser that he took the role last November after being impressed by the council's work during his time as governor, and also because his grandmother Leah died from cancer. Scarce has also cycled as part of the Cancer Council's Ride for a Reason team in the Santos Tour Down Under.[13] Also in November 2014, Scarce was appointed President of Novita Children's Services which provides assistance to disabled children, their families and carers.[14] Kevin Scarce and Raymond Spencer are ambassadors for Impact 100, a sub fund of the Australian Communities Foundation, which awards grants to not-for-profit organisations in South Australia.[15] In 2016, Scarce joined the board of Operation Flinders.[16]

Chancellor of the University of Adelaide

Scarce was appointed the 16th Chancellor of the University of Adelaide with effect from 1 December 2014[17] in succession to the Hon Robert Hill AC, who retired in July 2014. In the interim, Deputy Chancellor, Di Davidson, was the Acting Chancellor of the University. Scarce retired from this role on 4 May 2020, with his resignation followed the next day by the Vice-Chancellor, Peter Rathjen, taking an indefinite leave of absence.[18] Scarce was succeeded as Chancellor by Catherine Branson in July of the same year.[19]

Deputy Chairman, Seeley International

Scarce joined the board of directors of Seeley International in December 2014[20] and was later appointed Deputy Chairman.[21]

Nuclear fuel cycle royal commission

In December 2014, Scarce broke seven years of 'political silence' by suggesting that South Australia consider developing nuclear industries to compensate for a downturn in the manufacturing sector. He said that a debate between experts and without political intervention was needed. He was speaking as an invited guest of the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME).[22]

On 9 February 2015, the South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, announced that Scarce would lead a Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission to inquire into the possible expansion of nuclear industries in South Australia, including uranium mining, enrichment, power generation and radioactive waste storage. He told the media that he wanted a debate on the opportunities and risks the development of nuclear industries in South Australia represented, stating: "I come to this with no preconceived views."[23]

Scarce appeared in a segment about the nuclear Royal Commission on ABC's 7.30 program, broadcast on 14 March 2015. He said:

I know the dangers of the industry. I also know the opportunities it can bring. How do we convince South Australians that it is safe ... and what are the benefits of so doing?[24]

In May 2016, Scarce completed the report and presented to the Government of South Australia and the public.[25] The report provided twelve key recommendations and determined that the greatest economic opportunity for the nuclear industry in South Australia was in the establishment of a deep geological repository for imported spent nuclear fuel.

Following the conclusion of the commission, Scarce gave presentations about the final report and its recommendations at various private and public events, including those hosted by the University of South Australia (in collaboration with UCL Australia),[26] the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA)[27] and the Resources and Engineering Skills Alliance.[28] In addition to promoting the opportunities that his Commission identified in the nuclear industry, Scarce has also restated his interest in Australia considering becoming a republic.[29]


Companion of the Order of Australia (General Division) (AC)(2008)[33]
Officer of the Order of Australia (Military Division) (AO)(2004)[32]
Member of the Order of Australia (Military Division) (AM)(2001)[31]
Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC)(1994)[30]
Knight of the Order of St John (KStJ)(2007)
Australian Active Service Medal 1945–1975
Vietnam Logistic and Support Medal
Defence Force Service Medal with 4 clasps35–39 years service
Australian Defence Medal

Personal life

In 1975, Scarce married Elizabeth Anne Taylor while posted at HMAS Watson.[2] They have two adult children, Kasha (born in 1978), who works as a social worker in Sydney; and Kingsley (born in 1980), who serves as a lieutenant commander in the Royal Australian Navy.


  1. From navy brass to straight-talking bloke, The Advertiser, 5 May 2007.
  2. "Rear Admiral Kevin John Scarce". Royal Australian Navy. Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  3. "Nominal Roll of Vietnam Veterans". Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  4. Sexton, Mike: Battle hots up for destroyer contract, The 7.30 Report (ABC), 29 March 2005.
  5. Kevin Scarce appointed SA governor, The Age, 3 May 2007.
  6. Governor becomes RAA patron. Royal Automobile Association. samotor. November–December 2007. p. 8.
  7. Nash, Kate (1 September 2010). "An admirable vision" (PDF). Defense Business SA: 21. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  8. "Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce to stay on as South Australia governor". 13 February 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  9. "Hieu Van Le to be next SA Governor: From war-torn Vietnam to vice-regal post". ABC News. 26 June 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  10. "Maralinga: Traditional owners get their land back". Aboriginal Way. South Australian Native Title Services (40). 1 February 2010.
  11. Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee Annual Report 2009/2010. Adelaide, South Australia: Parliament of South Australia. 2010. pp. 21–22.
  12. "Rear Admiral The Honourable Kevin Scarce AC CSC RANR Rtd". Cancer Council SA. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  13. Crouch, Brad (28 March 2015). "Former governor Kevin Scarce's new fight – better accommodation for cancer patients". The Advertiser. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  14. "Novita Children's Services – Former Governor to become President of Novita". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  15. "About Us | Impact100 SA". Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  16. "Scarce joins Operation Flinders". Flinders News. 17 August 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  17. "Uni of Adelaide appoints former Governor as 16th Chancellor". Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  18. McGuire, Michael; Bond, Caleb (5 May 2020). "Kevin Scarce quits as Adelaide Uni chancellor six months early – then vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen takes indefinite leave". The Advertiser. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  19. "University of Adelaide appoints its 17th Chancellor". Newsroom. University of Adelaide. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  20. "The Hon. Kevin Scarce accepts Deputy Chairman role at Seeley International – Seeley International". Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  21. "People – Seeley International". Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  22. Edwards, Verity (13 December 2014). "Let's talk nuclear, says ex-governor Kevin Scarce". The Australian. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  23. "Former SA governor to lead nuclear inquiry". SBS. 9 February 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  24. Mann, Alex (13 March 2015). "Nuclear Royal Commission examines how to turn uranium into profit". 7.30. ABC. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  25. "Home".
  26. UniSA. "The University of South Australia: Home". Archived from the original on 6 June 2016. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  27. "Nuclear Royal Commission". Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  28. "RESA Productivity Breakfast Series with Rear Admiral the Honourable Kevin Scarce AC CSC RAN (Rtd) > Austmine | Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) Sector". Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  29. "Scarce: "Time to look at the Republic we need" – InDaily". 27 June 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  30. It's an Honour – Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC)
  31. It's an Honour – Member of the Order of Australia (AM)
  32. It's an Honour – Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)
  33. It's an Honour – Companion of the Order of Australia (AC)


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