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Extended biography - Major General Jeffery

Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery, AC, AO (Mil), CVO, MC (Retd)

Philip Michael Jeffery was born in Wiluna, Western Australia, in 1937 and died on 18 December 2020.

He was educated at Cannington and East Victoria Park State Schools and Kent Street High School. At age 16, he left Perth to attend the Royal Military College, Duntroon.

After graduation in 1958, he served in a number of junior regimental appointments with 17 National Service Training Company and the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) in Perth.

He was posted to Malaya in 1962 for operational service with the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment.

In 1965 he was seconded to the British SASR for an operational tour of duty in Borneo.

He returned to Australia as Adjutant of the SASR in Perth.

From 1966-69 he served in Papua New Guinea (PNG) with 1st Battalion, The Pacific Islands Regiment and was married during this posting to Marlena Kerr, of Manly, Sydney.

This was followed by a tour of Vietnam as an infantry company commander with the 8th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment. It was during this tour that he was awarded the Military Cross and the South Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

In 1972 he was selected to attend the British Army Staff College at Camberley, and was then promoted Lieutenant Colonel to command the 2nd Battalion, The Pacific Islands Regiment in Wewak PNG.

In 1976, he assumed command of the SASR in Perth and was then promoted to Colonel as the first Director of the Army's Special Action Forces, for services to which he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia.

From 1981-83 he headed Australia's national counter-terrorist coordination authority in the rank of Brigadier, after which he was posted as Commander of the 1st Mechanised and Airborne Brigade in Holsworthy, Sydney.

He was selected to attend the Royal College of Defence Studies in London in 1985.

He was then promoted to Major General and from 1986 commanded the Army's 15,000-person 1st Division.

In June 1988, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for his services to the Army and in 1989, as the Assistant Chief of the General Staff - Logistics.

In January 1990 he became Deputy Chief of the General Staff, responsible for the day-to-day running of a 65,000-person Army.

In February 1991 he was appointed Assistant Chief of the General Staff for Materiel, which involved the development and management of all Army equipment procurement and building construction projects.

On 1 November 1993, he was sworn in as the 27th Governor of Western Australia, and became a Companion of the Order of Australia, a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order and a Citizen of Western Australia for his services to the State. He was Governor until 2000.

General Jeffery was founding Chairman of the Perth based not-for-profit public policy think-tank, Future Directions International from 2000 to 2003.

His major public interests were in the fields of youth, education, environment and national security.

General Jeffery was sworn in as Australia's 24th Governor-General on 11 August 2003 at Parliament House, Canberra. Upon being sworn in, he became the Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Australia.

The Queen, as Sovereign Head of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, also appointed General Jeffery Prior for the Priory in Australia, and a Knight of Justice of the Order.

He and his wife Marlena had three sons, a daughter and seven grandchildren. He enjoyed music, reading, golf and fishing.