Who is Sam Mostyn, Australia’s next Governor-General?

Adrian Lowe
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Australia’s next Governor-General, Sam Mostyn
Australia’s next Governor-General, Sam Mostyn Credit: Chief Executive Women/Supplied

Australia’s next Governor-General has a wealth of experience in the corporate sector, sports administration and in the public and not-for-profit sectors.

Regarded as one of Australia’s most powerful and influential women, Samantha Mostyn spent time in her early career working with former NSW Court of Appeal president Michael Kirby and in the office of former prime minister Paul Keating.

To many, she is best known as the past president of Chief Executive Women, one of the nation’s most influential gender equity lobby groups and think tanks where she led the charge for greater representation of women on corporate boards, paid superannuation on government paid parental leave, child care policy changes and greater equality in corporate appointments and promotions.

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Chief Executive Women counts as members some of the country’s most senior business leaders, including Reserve Bank governor Michele Bullock and the chief executives of Woodside and Coles — Meg O’Neill and Leah Weckert.

Most recently she’s headed up the Federal Government’s women’s economic equality taskforce, which last year recommended paid parental leave be extended to 52 weeks, among a raft of other recommendations including better gender equity in government budgeting considerations and overall decision-making.

Since March last year, Ms Mostyn has also been chair of major super fund Aware Super. She also chairs the board of the Foundation of Young Australians, ANROWS (Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety) and the Centre for Policy Development.

She is also a board director at listed property company Mirvac and mental health foundation Beyond Blue, and is a member of the Climate Change Authority. She has also previously served on the boards of Virgin Australia, Transurban and the Diversity Council of Australia.

Awarded an Order of Australia in 2021, a United Nations Day Honour Award in 2020, Ms Mostyn was in 2005 the first woman to be appointed to the AFL Commission, where she served until 2016 and was a driving force behind the league’s respect and responsibility policy and the creation of the AFLW. An avid Sydney Swans fan, she was on the Swans board for six seasons from 2017.

Ms Mostyn on Wednesday paid tribute to her parents in establishing her early values — her father a Royal Military College Duntroon graduate who served for nearly 40 years.

After following her father’s career as a young child to the US, Canada, Adelaide and Melbourne, Ms Mostyn spent many of her formative years in Canberra, graduating from the Australian National University and worked as a researcher for the ACT’s chief magistrate.

“My parents instilled in us the values that they lived so consistently,” she said. “Generosity, care for others, respect, curiosity, being of service to society and always humility.

“Millions of Australians know this to be true, that being of service is what often provides a person with their greatest happiness and sense of purpose. That is certainly the case for me and I can think of no greater purpose . . . than to serve this country I love as Governor-General, particularly at a time in our history when the challenges and opportunities we face are large and complex.”

Ms Mostyn — married to barrister Simeon Beckett, and mother of a daughter, Lotte — said she had had many connections to community, from football to the arts to charity work and corporate governance.

“The beauty of Australians is our ability to pull together, often despite our differences,” she said.

Ms Mostyn’s successor at Chief Executive Women, Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, paid tribute to the incoming Governor-General.

“During her tenure, Sam was influential in government advocacy that saw the reinstatement of the single parenting payment, the expansion of Commonwealth paid parental leave and landmark investment in affordable early childhood,” Ms Lloyd-Hurwitz said.

“As a highly empowering and consultative leader, Sam will no doubt excel in her new role as Governor-General.”

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