Governor of South Australia

Governor of South Australia
Badge of the governor
Flag of the governor
Frances Adamson
since 7 October 2021
StyleHer Excellency the Honourable
ResidenceGovernment House, Adelaide
NominatorPremier of South Australia
AppointerMonarch of Australia
on the advice of the premier
Term lengthAt His Majesty's pleasure
(usually 5 years by convention)
Formation28 December 1836
First holderCaptain John Hindmarsh

The governor of South Australia is the representative in South Australia of the monarch of Australia, currently King Charles III. The governor performs the same constitutional and ceremonial functions at the state level as does the governor-general of Australia at the national level. In accordance with the conventions of the Westminster system of parliamentary government, the governor nearly always acts solely on the advice of the head of the elected government, the premier of South Australia. Nevertheless, the governor retains the reserve powers of the Crown, and has the right to dismiss the premier. As from June 2014, Queen Elizabeth II, upon the recommendation of the premier, accorded all current, future and living former governors the title 'The Honourable' for life. The first six governors oversaw the colony from proclamation in 1836, until self-government and an elected Parliament of South Australia was granted in the year prior to the inaugural 1857 election.

The first Australian-born governor of South Australia was Major-General Sir James Harrison (appointed 1968), and most subsequent governors have been Australian-born. The first South Australian-born governor was Sir Mark Oliphant (appointed 1971), and the first Aboriginal governor was Sir Douglas Nicholls (appointed 1976).

The current governor is diplomat Frances Adamson who was sworn in at Government House, Adelaide on 7 October 2021, replacing Hieu Van Le, who held the role from 2014 to 2021.

The governor's official residence is Government House, in Adelaide, the state's capital.


Prior to self-government, the governor was responsible to the Government of the United Kingdom and was charged with implementing laws and policy. Currently, the governor is responsible for safeguarding the South Australian Constitution and facilitating the work of the Parliament and state government.

The governor exercises power on the advice of ministers, conveyed through the Executive Council. Constitutional powers bestowed upon the governor and used with the consent and advice of the Executive Council include:

  • to appoint and dismiss ministers.
  • exercising the prerogative of mercy.
  • issuing regulations and proclamations under existing laws.
  • giving royal assent to bills passed by Parliament.
  • appointing judges, royal commissioners and senior public servants.
  • dissolving Parliament and issuing writs for elections.

The governor additionally maintains 'reserve powers' which can be used without the consent of the Executive Council. These powers relate to the appointment and dismissal of ministers and Parliament.

Governor's standard

The governor standard of South Australia is the same design as the British blue ensign with the Union Flag at the upper left quarter. On the right side, the State Badge of South Australia, comprising a piping shrike in a golden disc, is surmounted by the St. Edward's crown.

If the standard is flying at Government House, on a vehicle or at an event, this indicates that the governor is present.

Past and present standards of the governor

Governor's awards and commendations


The governor of South Australia supports outstanding achievers within the South Australian community through the presentation of a number of annual awards:

  • The Governor's Multicultural Awards recognise and celebrate South Australians who promote multiculturalism and increase the understanding of the benefits of cultural diversity in our community; administered by the Department of the premier and Cabinet through Multicultural Affairs. They are presented by the governor on the advice of an independent judging panel.
  • The Governor's Aboriginal Youth Awards recognise young Aboriginal South Australians, aged between 15 and 29 years, who are showing potential and determination to achieve success, or who are excelling in their chosen field in one of three areas: Sport, Arts and Higher Education; delivered through a partnership between the Department of the Premier and Cabinet’s Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation division and the Office of the Governor.
  • The Governor’s Civics Awards for Schools provide the opportunity for young South Australians to develop their understanding of the role citizenship plays in a multicultural and democratic society. The inaugural awards in 2019 had two categories: an individual and a group award for Year 5 students; in 2020, they expanded to include students from Years 5–12.


The governor also awards a series of commendations for excellence in the SACE year 12 exams, including:

  • Governor of South Australia Commendation – Excellence Award
  • Governor of South Australia Commendation – Aboriginal Student SACE Excellence Award
  • Governor of South Australia Commendation – Excellence in Modified SACE Award.

List of governors of South Australia

No. Portrait Governor Term begin Term end Time in office
Governor appointed by King William IV (1830–1837):
1 Rear Admiral Sir John Hindmarsh KH 28 December 1836 16 July 1838 1 year, 200 days
Governors appointed by Queen Victoria (1837–1901):
2 Lieutenant-Colonel George Gawler KH 17 October 1838 15 May 1841 2 years, 210 days
3 Sir George Grey KCB 15 May 1841 25 October 1845 4 years, 163 days
4 Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Holt Robe 25 October 1845 2 August 1848 2 years, 282 days
5 Sir Henry Fox Young KCMG 2 August 1848 20 December 1854 6 years, 140 days
6 Sir Richard Graves MacDonnell KCMG, CB 8 June 1855 4 March 1862 6 years, 269 days
7 Sir Dominick Daly 4 March 1862 19 February 1868 5 years, 352 days
8 The Rt Hon. Sir James Fergusson Bt 16 February 1869 18 April 1873 4 years, 61 days
9 Sir Anthony Musgrave KCMG 9 June 1873 29 January 1877 3 years, 234 days
10 Lieutenant-General Sir William Jervois GCMG, CB 2 October 1877 9 January 1883 5 years, 99 days
11 Sir William Robinson GCMG 19 February 1883 5 March 1889 6 years, 14 days
12 The Rt Hon. Earl of Kintore GCMG 11 April 1889 10 April 1895 5 years, 364 days
13 Sir Fowell Buxton Bt, GCMG 29 October 1895 29 March 1899 3 years, 151 days
14 The Rt Hon. Lord Tennyson GCMG 10 April 1899 17 July 1902 3 years, 98 days
Governors appointed by King Edward VII (1901–1910):
15 Sir George Le Hunte KCMG 1 July 1903 18 February 1909 5 years, 232 days
16 Admiral Sir Day Bosanquet GCVO, KCB 18 February 1909 22 March 1914 5 years, 32 days
Governors appointed by King George V (1910–1936):
17 Lieutenant Colonel Sir Henry Galway KCMG, DSO 18 April 1914 30 April 1920 6 years, 12 days
18 Lieutenant Colonel Sir Archibald Weigall KCMG 9 June 1920 30 May 1922 1 year, 355 days
19 Lieutenant-General Sir Tom Bridges KCB, KCMG, DSO 4 December 1922 4 December 1927 5 years, 0 days
20 Brigadier The Hon. Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven VC, KCMG, CB, DSO* 14 May 1928 26 April 1934 5 years, 347 days
21 Major-General Sir Winston Dugan KCMG, CB, DSO 28 July 1934 23 February 1939 4 years, 210 days
Governors appointed by King George VI (1936–1952):
22 Sir Malcolm Barclay-Harvey KCMG 12 August 1939 26 April 1944 4 years, 258 days
23 Lieutenant-General Sir Willoughby Norrie KCMG, CB, DSO, MC 19 December 1944 19 June 1952 7 years, 183 days
Governors appointed by Queen Elizabeth II (1952–2022):
24 Air Vice-Marshal Sir Robert George KCMG, KCVO, KBE, CB, MC 23 February 1953 7 March 1960 7 years, 13 days
25 Lieutenant-General Sir Edric Bastyan KCMG, KCVO, KBE, CB 4 April 1961 1 June 1968 7 years, 58 days
26 Major General Sir James Harrison KCMG, CB, CBE 4 December 1968 16 September 1971 2 years, 286 days
27 Professor Sir Mark Oliphant AC, KBE 1 December 1971 30 November 1976 4 years, 365 days
28 Sir Douglas Nicholls KCVO, OBE 1 December 1976 30 April 1977 150 days
29 Reverend Sir Keith Seaman KCVO, OBE 1 September 1977 28 March 1982 4 years, 208 days
30 Lieutenant General Sir Donald Dunstan AC, KBE, CB 23 April 1982 5 February 1991 8 years, 288 days
31 The Hon. Dame Roma Mitchell AC, DBE, CVO, QC 6 February 1991 21 July 1996 5 years, 166 days
32 Sir Eric Neal AC, CVO 22 July 1996 3 November 2001 5 years, 104 days
33 Marjorie Jackson-Nelson AC, CVO, MBE 3 November 2001 31 July 2007 5 years, 242 days
34 Rear Admiral The Hon. Kevin Scarce AC, CSC 8 August 2007 7 August 2014 6 years, 364 days
35 The Hon. Hieu Van Le AC 1 September 2014 31 August 2021 6 years, 364 days
36 Frances Adamson AC 7 October 2021 2 years, 37 days

Administrators and lieutenant-governors

These people administered the government in the absence of the official governor.

Administrator Term
George Milner Stephen 1838
Boyle Travers Finniss 1854–55
Lt.-Col. Francis Gilbert Hamley 1868–69
Major James Harwood Rocke 1870
Hon. Sir Richard Davies Hanson, Chief Justice 1872–73
Sir William Wellington Cairns, K.C.M.G 1877
Hon. Samuel James Way, Chief Justice, Lt.-Gov. 1877 to 1915 (on 65 separate occasions)
Hon. James Penn Boucaut, Judge of Supreme Court 1885, 1886, 1888, 1890, 1891, 1897
Hon. William Henry Bundey, Judge of Supreme Court 1888
Hon. Sir George John Robert Murray, Chief Justice, Lt.-Gov. 1916–24, 1926–42 (on 103 separate occasions)
Hon. Thomas Slaney Poole, Judge of Supreme Court 1925 (on 2 occasions)
Hon. Sir Herbert Angas Parsons, Judge of Supreme Court 1935 to 1942 (on 6 separate occasions)
Hon. Sir John Mellis Napier, Chief Justice, Lt.-Gov. 1942 to 1973 (on 179 separate occasions)
Hon. Sir Herbert Mayo, Judge of Supreme Court 1946 to 1965 (on 25 separate occasions)
Hon. Sir Geoffrey Sandford Reed, Judge of Supreme Court 1951 to 1957 (on 5 separate occasions)
Hon. John Jefferson Bray, Chief Justice 1968 to 1973 (on 8 separate occasions)
Hon. David Stirling Hogarth, Judge of Supreme Court 1971
Sir Walter Crocker, Lt.-Gov. 1973 to 1982 (on 29 separate occasions)
Hon. Sir Condor Laucke, Lt.-Gov. 1982 to 1992 (on 43 separate occasions)
Hon. Leonard James King, A.C., Chief Justice 1987
Hon. Dr. Basil Hetzel, Lt.-Gov. 1992 to 2000 (on 32 separate occasions)
Hon. John Doyle, Chief Justice 1999–2012 (on 10 separate occasions)
Hon. Bruno Krumins, Lt.-Gov. 2000–2007 (on 60 separate occasions)
Hon. John William Perry, Judge of Supreme Court 2002
Hon. Hieu Van Le, Lt.-Gov. 2007–2014
Hon. Brenda Wilson, Lt.-Gov. 2014–2022
Hon. Dr James Muecke AM, Lt.-Gov. 2022–date

External links

This page was last updated at 2023-11-13 21:28 UTC. Update now. View original page.

All our content comes from Wikipedia and under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.


If mathematical, chemical, physical and other formulas are not displayed correctly on this page, please useFirefox or Safari