Linda Dessau

Linda Marion Dessau AC CVO (born 8 May 1953[1]) is an Australian jurist, barrister, and the 29th and current governor of Victoria since 1 July 2015.[2] She is the first female and the first Jewish holder of the office. She was a judge of the Family Court of Australia from 1995 to 2013.[3]

Linda Dessau
Dessau in 2019
29th Governor of Victoria
Assumed office
1 July 2015
MonarchsElizabeth II
Charles III
PremierDaniel Andrews
LieutenantMarilyn Warren (2015–2017)
Ken Lay (2017–2021)
James Angus (2021–present)
Preceded byAlex Chernov
Personal details
Born
Linda Marion Dessau

(1953-05-08) 8 May 1953
East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Spouse
Tony Howard
(m. 1982)
Children2
ResidenceGovernment House, Melbourne
EducationSt Catherine’s School
University of Melbourne
ProfessionJurist, barrister
WebsiteGovernor of Victoria

Early life

Dessau was born in Melbourne, Victoria, on 8 May 1953, the youngest of four children. Her father, John Dessau, arrived in Melbourne from Poland in 1929. At first he took on factory work, but later he became a businessman. He married Sybil, who was born in Melbourne.[4]

Education and career

Dessau was educated at St Catherine's School, Toorak, matriculating at the age of sixteen. She graduated with a Bachelor of Laws with Honours from the University of Melbourne in 1973 as its youngest law graduate. She worked as a solicitor from 1974 to 1978, and as a barrister from 1979 to 1995, specialising in family law and commercial litigation.

Dessau was appointed to the AFL Commission in November 2007.[5] She is a supporter of the Essendon Football Club, and in 1997 she started, and was the inaugural chair of, the Essendon Women's Network, which for more than a decade has maintained a strong presence in the grand final week calendar.[6] She was appointed to the board of the Melbourne Festival, of which she became president in 2014.[7]

Governor

Dessau is one of five Jews to have served in a viceregal capacity in Australia, after governors-general Sir Isaac Isaacs and Sir Zelman Cowen, and governors Sir Matthew Nathan (Queensland) and Gordon Samuels (New South Wales).[8] In August 2016, Dessau was embroiled in an expenses scandal, which saw her personally repay the expenses of lunches at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant (Pétrus) and Harrods, which had originally been paid by the Victorian taxpayer.[9] In 2016, the level of expenses for capital works and ongoing maintenance requested by Dessau were alleged to be excessive, and a former Government House employee told the Herald Sun that the working environment there was "toxic".[10]

On 1 November 2021, Dessau succeeded Queensland governor Paul de Jersey as the longest-serving incumbent state governor. She thus received a dormant commission to act as Administrator of the Commonwealth in the absence of the governor-general of Australia.[11]

Personal life

Dessau is married to Anthony Howard AM KC, a former judge of the County Court of Victoria. They were married in 1982 and have two sons.[12] In 2021 their son Ollie became engaged to Lauren Thurin, the granddaughter of billionaire property developer John Gandel.[13]

Honours

Viceregal styles of
Linda Dessau
(2015–present)
Reference styleHer Excellency the Honourable
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Orders
Organisations
  • 1994: Churchill Fellowship. She travelled to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to study strategies employed to reduce delay within the court system.
  • 2018: Victorian Honour Roll of Women by the Victorian State government.[18]
Appointments

References

  1. "Welcomes" (PDF). Victorian Bar News. Spring 1995. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 March 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  2. White, Alex (1 July 2015). "Victoria's first female Governor Linda Dessau sworn in". Herald Sun. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  3. Justice Linda Dessau retires from the Family Court of Australia, Family Court of Australia, 21 June 2013.
  4. Green, Shane (1 July 2015). "New Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau a first in more ways than one". The Age. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  5. Barrett, Damian (21 November 2007). "League not fussed at Pratt's cartel connection". Herald Sun. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  6. Wilson, Caroline (20 October 2012). "Meet the AFL commissioners". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  7. "Linda Dessau named president of Melbourne Festival". The Sydney Morning Herald. 26 March 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  8. Victoria's first Jewish governor, The Australian Jewish News, 23 February 2015.
  9. Anderson, Stephanie (18 August 2016). "Victorian Governor Linda Dessau repays cost of expensive meals in London restaurants". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  10. Coster, Alice; Hudson, Fiona (16 August 2016). "Claims of cost blowouts, toxic workplace at Victoria's Government House". Herald Sun. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  11. "Administrator of the Commonwealth". Governor of Victoria. Retrieved 16 May 2022.
  12. "About the Governor". Governor of Victoria. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  13. Brook, Stephen; Hutchinson, Samantha (30 April 2021). "Prominent families to unite as Dessau's son engaged to a Gandel". The Age. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  14. It's an Honour: Companion of the Order of Australia, AustralianGovernment, retrieved 6 August 2018
  15. It's an Honour: Companion of the Order of Australia, AustralianGovernment, retrieved 6 August 2018
  16. Joining HE Governor-General, Lady Cosgrove & the @stjohnaustralia leaders as a Dame of Grace in the Order of St John, Governor of Victoria, retrieved 4 May 2019
  17. "Crown Office". www.thegazette.co.uk.
  18. "Victorian Honour Roll of Women". Women Victoria – vic.gov.au. Archived from the original on 10 March 2018. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  19. "Understanding the Most Venerable Order of St John" (PDF). Governor of New South Wales. Governor of New South Wales. 12 December 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
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