Peter Cosgrove

General Sir Peter John Cosgrove, AK, CVO, MC (born 28 July 1947) is a retired senior Australian Army officer who served as the 26th governor-general of Australia, in office from 2014 to 2019.

Peter Cosgrove
Cosgrove in 2017
26th Governor-General of Australia
In office
28 March 2014  1 July 2019
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterTony Abbott
Malcolm Turnbull
Scott Morrison
Preceded byDame Quentin Bryce
Succeeded byDavid Hurley
Personal details
Peter John Cosgrove

(1947-07-28) 28 July 1947
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Spouse(s)Lynne, Lady Cosgrove
Alma materRoyal Military College, Duntroon
National Defence College, India
Military service
Branch/serviceAustralian Army
Years of service1965–2005
CommandsChief of the Defence Force (2002–05)
Chief of Army (2000–02)
Land Command Australia (2000)
International Force East Timor (1999–00)
1st Division (1998–99)
6th Brigade (1992–93)
1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1983–84)
Battles/warsVietnam War
International Force East Timor
AwardsKnight of the Order of Australia
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Military Cross
Complete list

A graduate of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Cosgrove fought in the Vietnam War, receiving the Military Cross in 1971. From 1983 to 1984, he was commander of the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and he later served as commander of the 6th Brigade and the 1st Division. Cosgrove rose to prominence in 1999, when he served as commander of the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET), which oversaw the peacekeeping mission in East Timor during its transition to independence. He is also an alumnus of National Defence College, India.

Cosgrove was Australia's Chief of Army from 2000 to 2002 and Chief of the Defence Force from 2002 to 2005, receiving corresponding promotions to lieutenant general and general. Cosgrove retired from active service following the end of his term as Chief of the Defence Force, and subsequently served as leader of a taskforce helping to rebuild communities in Queensland after Cyclone Larry in 2006. In January 2014, Cosgrove was named to succeed Dame Quentin Bryce as Governor-General of Australia. He was sworn in on 28 March 2014 and made a Knight of the Order of Australia on the same date. Cosgrove retired on 1 July 2019 and was succeeded by General David Hurley.

Early life and education

Viceregal styles of
Sir Peter Cosgrove
Reference styleHis Excellency the Honourable
Spoken styleYour Excellency

Cosgrove was born in Sydney, New South Wales, on 28 July 1947. He was educated at Waverley College in Sydney, then followed his father, a warrant officer, into the Australian Army by attending the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1965. Cosgrove's uncle, Bill Cosgrove, was a professional Australian rules football player, but was killed in action while serving with the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II.[1] Cosgrove class of 1964 spent time in Waverley College's Cadet Unit, as a cadet he was Adjutant CUO P. Cosgrove and tied for the Major General JA Chapman Cane for the most efficient cadet in the Unit. Years later the cadet unit has named an award after Cosgrove, the General Cosgrove Shield (for the most efficient Speciality in the Cadet Unit) each year to honour the achievements of the most senior ranking officer to graduate.

Military service

Cosgrove at the Centenary of the Kangaroo March launch in 2013.

Cosgrove was appointed a probationary second lieutenant in August 1968 while attached to a regular army unit,[2] and was commissioned a lieutenant on 11 December 1968.[3] He was allotted to the Royal Australian Infantry. He arrived in South Vietnam on 3 August 1969 and was posted to 9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment on 20 August 1969. On 10 October 1969, Lieutenant Cosgrove was commanding 5 Platoon, B Company. The platoon located an occupied bunker system in an area where, because of the proximity of allied troops, indirect fire support was difficult to obtain. In spite of this, he led his platoon in an assault on the bunkers without indirect fire support, capturing the system and killing and wounding at least four enemy without sustaining any casualties. On 16 October 1969, 5 Platoon located another bunker system occupied by about a platoon of enemy. Lieutenant Cosgrove silently deployed his own platoon for an attack. His assault completely surprised the enemy causing them to flee, abandoning large quantities of food, stores and documents. The following day in the same bunker system a party of enemy approached his right forward section and was engaged by the sentry. Knowing that the remainder of the section was elsewhere on other tasks, Lieutenant Cosgrove ran to the contact area and personally conducted the fight against the enemy. As a result of his actions, two enemy were killed and three weapons and four packs containing rice were captured. He was awarded the Military Cross for these actions.[4][5]

Cosgrove was promoted to the temporary rank of captain on 21 September 1970,[6] and was appointed an aide-de-camp to the then-Governor-General Paul Hasluck on 20 December 1971.[7] He was promoted to substantive captain on 31 October 1974 (seniority from 13 July),[8] to temporary major on 2 January 1976 and to substantive major on 11 December 1978.[9][10] In 1980 he was awarded the National Medal,[11] and was promoted to lieutenant-colonel on 7 December 1981.[12] In the mid-1980s he commanded the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.[13]

Cosgrove came to national fame in 1999 when, as a major general, he led the international forces (INTERFET) in a peacekeeping mission to East Timor. The mission's success made him one of Australia's most respected and popular military leaders.[14] He returned to Australia in 2000 as Land Commander Australia,[15] was promoted to lieutenant general in July and appointed Chief of the Army and, in 2002, was advanced to general as Chief of the Defence Force.[16]

In 2004, the Foreign Minister Alexander Downer queried the judgement of Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty.[17] Following a joint interview with the then Defence Minister Robert Hill, Cosgrove was accused of "playing politics" when he said that, on this occasion, he disagreed with Keelty's point of view. However, Cosgrove expressed strong support for the Police Commissioner in his Australian best selling autobiography, My Story, published in 2006.[18] On 3 July 2005, Cosgrove's three-year appointment as Chief of the Defence Force was completed, and he was succeeded by then-Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Angus Houston.

Post-military career

Cyclone Larry Taskforce

On 23 March 2006, Cosgrove was selected to lead the Queensland Government taskforce of rebuilding communities damaged by Cyclone Larry, a Category 5 tropical cyclone that devastated the Innisfail region of northern Queensland.[19] "In recognition of the important contribution General Cosgrove made to the community of North Queensland following Cyclone Larry", on 11 October 2008, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced that a new residential suburb in the Bohle Plains area of Townsville would be named Cosgrove, formerly the site of an Abattoir for the cattle sale yards next to it.[20][21][22]

Corporate leadership and community organisations

Cosgrove served on the board of Australia's main airline Qantas between July 2005[23] and January 2014[24] and is on numerous other boards as chairman or member. He served as Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University between November 2010[25] and January 2014;[26] and is Honorary Patron in Chief of the ACT Veterans Rugby Club[27] and the Rosies Youth Mission.[28] Peter Cosgrove was appointed as Patron to the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard Association in 2015.


Swearing in as Governor-General

On 28 January 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that the Queen Elizabeth II had accepted his advice to appoint Peter Cosgrove as the next Governor-General of Australia, to succeed Quentin Bryce in late March.[29] On 25 March, Abbott announced that the Queen had also approved the reinstatement of the grade of Knight or Dame in the Order of Australia (she had abolished it in 1986 on the advice of Bob Hawke), and that governors-general would be ex officio the Principal Knight or Dame of the Order.[30] The incumbent, Quentin Bryce, was immediately made the first new Dame of the Order. On 28 March Cosgrove succeeded Dame Quentin and was sworn in as Governor-General by Chief Justice Robert French,[31] becoming Sir Peter Cosgrove.[32] Former headmaster of Waverley College, Ray Paxton states “In choosing Sir Peter Cosgrove for Governor General, Australia has honoured a remarkable man”.

Prince George with his parents and Sir Peter Cosgrove at Admiralty House, Sydney, April 2014

On 16 December 2018 Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that The Queen had approved the appointment of retired General David Hurley, the current Governor of New South Wales as the next Governor-General of Australia commencing in July 2019, and that Cosgrove's term would be extended until that time to ensure smooth transitions following the New South Wales election in March and federal election expected in May 2019.[33]

On 12 August 2019, during a post appointment call upon the Queen, Her Majesty appointed Cosgrove a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.[34]

Personal life

Cosgrove married Lynne Payne in 1976;[35] they have three sons[36] and four grandchildren, and lived in Sydney before taking up residence in Government House, Canberra. Cosgrove is a Roman Catholic and frequently attends Mass in the St Christopher's Cathedral parish in Canberra.

Cosgrove is a strong supporter and member of the Sydney Roosters. He is also a keen follower of cricket and rugby union.

His memoir You shouldn't have joined... was published by Allen & Unwin in 2020.[37]

Lady Cosgrove in 2017

Honours and awards

Knight of the Order of Australia (AK)28 March 2014[38][39]
Companion of the Order of Australia (AC)25 March 2000
(Military division)
For eminent service to the Australian Defence Force as the Commander of the International Force East Timor[14]
Member of the Order of Australia (AM)26 January 1985
(Military division)
In recognition of service as Commanding Officer 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment[13]
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO)12 August 2019[34]
Military Cross (MC)12 February 1971Infantry – 9 RAR – Vietnam[40][41]
Knight of the Order of St John28 March 2014[38][42]
Australian Active Service Medal 1945–1975with Vietnam clasp
Vietnam Medal[43]
Australian Active Service Medalwith East Timor clasp[43]
International Force East Timor Medal(INTERFET)[43]
Australian Service Medal 1945–1975[43]
Centenary Medal1 January 2001For service to Australian society as Chief of the Defence Force[16]
Defence Force Service Medal with Federation Star40–44 years service[43]
National Medal16 October 1980For diligent long service to the community in hazardous circumstances, including in times of emergency and national disaster, in direct protection of life and property[43]
Australian Defence Medal[43]
Vietnam Campaign MedalRepublic of Vietnam[43]
Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit5 June 2000New Zealand[44]
Commander of the Legion of MeritUnited States[43]
Tong-il Medal of the Order of National Security MeritSouth Korea[43]
Officer of the Legion of HonourFrance[43]
Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry28 May 2002Portugal[45]
Distinguished Service Order7 September 2004Singapore[46]
Collar of the Order of Timor-Leste30 August 2009Timor-Leste[47]
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Gregory the Great7 February 2013Holy See[48]
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Tonga 3 July 2015 Tonga[49]
Collar of the Order of the Liberator General San Martín9 August 2016Argentina[50]
Grand Cross of the Order of Liberty6 July 2018Portugal[51]
Infantry Combat Badge
Other awards
Australian of the Year26 January 2001He accepted his Australian of the Year award on behalf of all those Australians who served in East Timor: "I did a lot of the talking, they did all the working."[52]

Honorary appointments

Honorary degrees


Named in his honour

See also


  1. Governor-general Sir Peter Cosgrove’s mischievous ‘uncle Bill’ a beloved World War II hero
  2. "Royal Military College - Corps of Staff Cadets". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. No. 72. 29 August 1968. p. 4853. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  3. "Australian Regular Army". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. No. 19. 27 February 1969. p. 1253. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  4. "Text of Citation for award of Military Cross to Lieutenant Peter J. Cosgrove" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 February 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  5. "No. 45302". The London Gazette. 12 February 1971. p. 1343.
  6. "Australian Regular Army". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. No. 97. 5 November 1970. p. 7385. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  7. "Australian Regular Army". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. No. 3. 20 January 1972. p. 13. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  8. "Australian Military Forces". Australian Government Gazette, General. No. G2. 14 January 1975. p. 39. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  9. "Australian Regular Army". Australian Government Gazette, General (National). No. G45. 18 November 1975. p. 20. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  10. "Australian Regular Army". Australian Government Gazette, General (National). No. G9. 6 March 1979. p. 26. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  11. "Search: COSGROVE, Peter John: National Medal". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 16 October 1980. Archived from the original on 20 August 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  12. "Australian Regular Army". Australian Government Gazette, General (National). No. G3. 19 January 1982. p. 30. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  13. "Search: COSGROVE, Peter John: Member of the Order of Australia". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 26 January 1985. Archived from the original on 26 May 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  14. "Search: Cosgrove, Peter John: Companion of the Order of Australia". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 25 March 2000. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  15. Barker, Geoffrey (2 May 2000). "General Cosgrove to be New Army Chief". Financial Review. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
  16. "Search: COSGROVE, Peter John: Centenary Medal". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 1 January 2001. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
  17. Grattan, Michelle; Forbes, Mark (18 March 2004). "Honest copper emerges victor". The Age. During a "doorstop" interview, Downer said Mr Keelty was "expressing a view which reflects a lot of the propaganda we're getting from al-Qaeda"
  18. Cosgrove, Peter John (2006). My Story. Australia: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-7322-8384-1.
  19. Beattie, Peter (23 March 2006). "General Cosgrove to lead Cyclone Larry taskforce" (Press release). Premier of Queensland. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  20. "Townsville suburb named in honour of General Cosgrove". ABC News. Australia. 11 October 2008. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  21. Ryan, Lendl (11 October 2008). "Townsville "Cosgrove" storm". Townsville Bulletin. News Limited. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  22. "Townsville suburb named after Cosgrove". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 11 October 2008. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  23. "Board of Directors". Annual Report. Qantas Limited. 2013. p. 51. Archived from the original on 27 January 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  24. "Resignation of General Peter Cosgrove" (Press release). Qantas Limited. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  25. "General Peter Cosgrove appointed Chancellor of ACU". Australian Catholic University. 25 May 2010. Archived from the original on 27 November 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  26. "General Peter Cosgrove Australia's Next Governor-General". Catholic Communications. Archdiocese of Sydney. 28 January 2014. Archived from the original on 4 October 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  27. "ACT Veterans Rugby". Archived from the original on 23 June 2014.
  28. Rosies Youth Mission. Inc. "Organisational Structure". Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  29. Governor-General-designate to be sworn in Archived 27 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine – Office of the Prime Minister of Australia, 24 February 2014.
  30. "'Pre-eminent' Australians could be made Knight or Dame under a new award, PM Tony Abbott says". ABC News. 25 March 2014.
  31. "Former Defence Force Chief General Peter Cosgrove sworn in as Australia's 26th Governor General". 28 March 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  32. "Peter Cosgrove announced as next Governor-General". AAP. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  33. Crowe, David (16 December 2018). "Scott Morrison picks former general David Hurley to be Australia's next governor-general". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  34. "Court Circular: Balmoral Castle". The Times. 13 August 2019. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  35. "Biographies of Peter and Lynne Cosgrove". Governor-General of Australia. Australian Government. Archived from the original on 29 March 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  36. "General Peter John Cosgrove, AC, MC". People profiles. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  37. Cosgrove, Peter (Peter J.) (27 October 2020). You shouldn't have joined... : a memoir. Sydney, N.S.W. ISBN 978-1-76087-852-8. OCLC 1200259235.
  38. Automatic upon taking office as Governor-General
  39. "General Peter Cosgrove to be sworn in as governor-general at ceremony in Canberra". ABC News. Australia. 28 March 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  40. "No. 45302". The London Gazette. 12 February 1971. p. 1343.
  41. "Search: COSGROVE, Peter John: Military Cross". It's an Honour. 12 February 1971. Archived from the original on 26 May 2011.
  42. "Order of St John". London Gazette. 19 May 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  43. Thomsen, Simon. "EXECUTIVE LIFE Here Are The Honours Our New Governor-General, His Excellency Sir Peter Cosgrove, AC MC, Already Has". Business Insider Australia. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  44. "Queen's Birthday honours list 2000 (including special list for East Timor)". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 5 June 2000. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  45. Annual Portuguese Honorary Orders, Foreign citizens 1910–2006, 2006, retrieved 19 April 2008, p111. (in Portuguese) Archived 14 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  46. MINDEF Singapore, President Nathan Confers Top Military Award on Chief of the Australian Defence Force, 7 September 2004. Retrieved 19 April 2008.
  47. Retired General Peter Cosgrove is presented with the collar of the Order of East Timor by East Timor President, His Excellency, Dr Jose Ramos Horta at the 10th Anniversary of Popular Consultation Awards Ceremony held at the New Presidential Palace in Dili Archived 13 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Defence image gallery – Order of East Timor medal presentations, 4 September 2009
  48. "Cardinal Confers Papal Awards on Three Outstanding Australians". Catholic Communications. Archdiocese of Sydney. 7 February 2013. Archived from the original on 16 May 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  49. ADC, RAAF (5 July 2015). "Visit to Tonga". Archived from the original on 28 June 2019. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  50. "Buenos Aires, Argentina". Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia. Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia. 9 August 2016. Archived from the original on 27 May 2019. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  51. "Facebook post". Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia. Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia. 6 July 2018. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  52. "General Peter Cosgrove AC MC". Australian of the Year 2001. National Australia Day Committee. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  53. "Understanding the Most Venerable Order of St John" (PDF). St John South Australia. St John South Australia. 12 December 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  54. Groves, Sam (25 May 2016). "Address to the Graduates of the Faculty of Engineering". Archived from the original on 21 December 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  55. "Cosgrove – suburb in Townsville City (entry 44586)". Queensland Place Names. Queensland Government. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
External video
One Plus One: Sir Peter Cosgrove, One Plus One, ABC News
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