Out of uniform and thrust blinking into the world of officiating, unveilings and countless morning teas, General David Hurley and his wife Linda will “carve our own path” when he steps into the nation’s oldest public position.
After 42 years of soldiering, the next NSW governor will turn to a more genteel kind of public service, and must walk in the footsteps of a much-revered predecessor.
“I was quite overwhelmed when I was asked to consider taking on this appointment. [I have] enormous shoes to fill because Governor [Marie] Bashir has put her whole life and enormous passion into her role,” he said on Thursday.
The Wollongong-born defence force chief, 60, will call time on his celebrated military career at the end of this month.
The Queen approved General Hurley’s appointment, which takes effect on October 2.
He becomes the state’s 38th governor, and will take on a host of constitutional, official and community duties.
He will live at Government House and receive a salary of about $ 195,000.
The public has developed deep affection for Governor Bashir over her 13 years in the role. She broke the mould as the first woman in the position, and the first person of Lebanese descent.
She is known for delivering heartfelt, erudite speeches, and for her determined support for society’s marginalised groups, including refugees, indigenous people and the mentally ill.
General Hurley said the “themes” of his five-year tenure would emerge in time. He signalled an interest in advancing the role of women in the workforce, assisting soldiers suffering post traumatic stress disorder and increasing opportunities for youth.
“One of the great things about the role of governor is you [can] create opportunities for people, because you can knit communities to opportunity, to resources. You have a very broad view of what’s happening in the state,” he said.
There was speculation former defence force chief Peter Cosgrove would be asked take up the role, but he has since been appointed Governor-General.
General Hurley graduated from the Royal Military College at Duntroon in 1975 and joined the infantry. He was steadily promoted through the force’s ranks, assuming the top job in 2011.
In 2010 he became a Companion of the Order of Australia for his defence force service.
He has also been also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for service in Somalia. He has three children.
Premier Mike Baird said the appointment reflected General Hurley’s “incredible career”.
“It is great to have a Wollongong boy in the top job and it is great to have someone who has led a military in difficult times … every single hour he has been about dedicating his life and cause to the service of the people of this country,” Mr Baird said.