Quentin Bryce

Quentin Bryce

Infobox Governor General
honorific-prefix = Her Excellency
name = Quentin Bryce
honorific-suffix =

order = 25th Governor-General of Australia
term_start = 5 September 2008
monarch = Elizabeth II
primeminister = Kevin Rudd
predecessor = Michael Jeffery
order2 = 24th Governor of Queensland
term_start2 = 29 July 2003
term_end2 = 29 July 2008
monarch2 = Elizabeth II
premier2 = Peter Beattie
Anna Bligh
predecessor2 = Peter Arnison
successor2 = Penelope Wensley
birth_date = birth date and age|1942|12|23|df=y
birth_place = Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
death_date =
death_place =
spouse = Michael Bryce
alma_mater = University of Queensland
profession = Law academic
website = [http://www.gg.gov.au gg.gov.au]

Quentin Alice Louise Bryce AC (born 23 December 1942) is the current Governor-General of Australia and a former Governor of Queensland.Pollard (13 April 2008)] Born to Norman Strachan and Naida Wetzel in Brisbane, Queensland, Quentin Bryce spent her first years in Ilfracombe, with her family subsequently living in a number of country towns around Australia. She attended the University of Queensland, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts and a degree in Law, becoming one of the first women accepted to the Queensland bar.

In 1968 she became the first woman to be a faculty member of the Law school where she had studied, and in 1978 she joined the new National Women's Advisory Council. This was followed by a number of positions, including the first director of the Queensland Women's Information Service, the Queensland director of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner in 1988. Her services to the community saw her appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1988, and as a Companion of the Order of Australia and Dame of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in 2003.

Bryce was appointed as the Governor of Queensland in 2003. Although some concerns were raised during her time in the position, her five year term was to be extended until 2009. However, on 13 April 2008, before the completion of the initial five years, it was announced that Bryce was to become the next Governor-General of Australia. The decision was generally well received, and on 5 September 2008 Bryce was sworn in, succeeding Major General Michael Jeffery becoming the first woman to be the Governor-General.

Early life

Quentin Bryce was born on 23 December 1942, in Brisbane, as the second of the four daughters.Condon (10 May 2008), p. 14. There are differing reports on both the place of birth and the number of children born to the Strachan family: while Condon provides Brisbane as the location of her birth, he acknowledges that others have identified Longreach as her birthplace. Condon quotes Bryce as saying: "My mother came to Brisbane to have me. She had had a child between my eldest sister and me who died. I presume that's why she came to Brisbane."] Her parents, Norman Strachan and Naida Wetzel, had taken up residence at nearby Ilfracombe in 1940, where her father had accepted a position as the manager of the local wool–scour. Her mother was employed as a schoolteacher before marrying Strachan, and Quentin Bryce – along with all of the children in her family – was home-schooled, rather than attending the local State school. Her family left the area in 1949, initially relocating to Launceston in Tasmania, where they remained for approximately a year. Returning to Queensland, her family moved to Belmont, where her father was engaged to open a new wool–scour. It was when living in Belmont that she attended the Camp Hill State School, and it was there that she first met her future husband, Michael Bryce.Condon (10 May 2008), p. 14.]

During the period that they were residing in Belmont, her father purchased a property near Tenterfield in New South Wales, where he took up sheep farming. In 1956 Quentin Bryce started attending boarding school at Moreton Bay College, Wynnum, Brisbane,Murphy, Snow & Dick (19 April 2008), p. 27.] while her parents managed "a couple of stations out west". Upon graduating from high school she undertook studies at the University of Queensland; initially enrolling in a social work and arts degree, but transferring to Law in her third year at the institution. She graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Arts in 1962 and Bachelor of Laws in 1965.cite web |url = http://www.govhouse.qld.gov.au/the_governor/documents/qbrycecv_001.pdf | Format = pdf| title = Ms Quentin Bryce, AC: 24th Governor of Queensland | publisher = Government House Queensland | accessdate = 2008-04-14] cite web| url = http://www.alumni.uq.edu.au/quentin-bryce-queensland-governor|title = Quentin Bryce, Queensland Governor| work = University of Queensland alumni| publisher = University of Queensland| accessdate = 2008-04-14] In 1965, she was one of the first women to be admitted to the Queensland bar,Condon (10 May 2008) quotes Naida Haxton, who places Bryce as the seventh woman to be admitted to the Queensland bar. This is supported by other sources, (such as The Supreme Court of Queensland Library) which place Katharine McGregor as the first woman admitted. Nevertheless, some commentators – for example Murphy (2008) and Barrowclough (2008) – have stated that Bryce was the first to be appointed.] although she has never practised professionally.


After spending some time in London, Bryce returned to Australia and accepted a part-time tutoring position at the T. C. Beirne School of Law at the University of Queensland in 1968, thus becoming the first woman to be appointed to the faculty.Condon (10 May 2008) once again quotes Nadi Haxton, who clarifies that Bryce was the first woman on staff, but that Haxton was the first woman to teach in the faculty, having lectured prior to Bryce's appointment, but not as a faculty member.] In 1969 she was took up a lecturing position at the law school,Wright (11 March 2003), p. 13.] and she continued to teach at the university until 1983.

In 1978 the Fraser government formed the National Women's Advisory Council, and Bryce was "vaulted to prominence" with her appointment to the council, taking on the role of convener in 1982. In 1984 she became the first director of the Queensland Women's Information Service under the umbrella of the Office of the Status of Women,Murphy (14 April 2008)] and was appointed as the "women's representative on the National Committee on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation". Then in 1987 she became the Queensland director of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC).

Over a five-year period (1988-1993) Bryce served as Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner during the time of the Hawke Labor government.McLean (15 March 2003), p. 31.] Her time in the role was not without controversy, though: in 1990 Alexander Proudfoot formally complained that the women's health centres in the Australian Capital Territory were operating in breach of the Sex Discrimination Act. This culminated in 1994 when Bryce herself faced an HREOC hearing after being accused of discriminating against Proudfoot. In the end, the commission found in Bryce's favour and dismissed the complaint, as the behaviour in question "did not reflect on the way Ms Bryce discharged her duties".Williams (14 April 2008), p. 4.] After finishing her time as the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Quentin Bryce became the founding chair and chief executive officer of the National Childcare Accreditation Council, where she remained for three years.

Bryce changed direction between 1997 and 2003, when she became the principal and chief executive officer of The Women's College within the University of Sydney, New South Wales. [cite web | url = http://www.thewomenscollege.com.au/history.php|title = History | publisher = The Women's College within the University of Sydney | accessdate = 2008-04-14] The move was said to have "stunned her political and legal acquaintances", but Bryce saw it as bringing "together all the life skills and attributes" that she had acquired, as well as providing an opportunity to have an influence on the student's futures.Packham (14 April 2003), p. 5.]

In other roles, Bryce has been the chair of the National Breast Cancer Advisory Council and sat on the Australian Women's Cricket Board, and has been a member of organizations such as the YWCA, the Australian Children's Television Foundation and the Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospital.cite hansard | url = http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/tableoffice/Documents/HALnks/2003/030311/AppGov.pdf | house = Queensland Parliament Legislative Assembly | date = 11 March 2003 | page_start = 374 | page_end = 375 ]

Governor of Queensland

In 2003, on the recommendation of the Premier Peter Beattie, Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, appointed her Governor of Queensland, the second woman to occupy the position. Once Bryce's nomination had been accepted by the Queen, Beattie opened it up for debate in the Queensland Legislative Assembly – an "unprecedented" move performed by the Premier as the first step in changing the manner by which the nominations are managed. Nevertheless, the outcome was never in doubt, as Beattie had "cleared the vote with the National and Liberal leaders" prior to the debate.

Bryce's stint at Government House was not always peaceful, as there was controversy during her time in the position. There was a substantial exit of staff at Government House not long after Bryce became Governor. At least eight staff including the Executive Office, Head Chef, House Manager and Gardener left,Barrowclough (5 September 2008)] although the Queensland Public Sector Union stated in 2008 that the disputes were "with the management as a whole, but there wasn't anything specific against the Governor".Elks (15 April 2008), p. 3.] There were also concerns raised in 2005 about the use of Government House for private parties, in particular after she held a reception for her son's wedding at the residence. This was held against the advice of the executive officer, who "took redundancy" shortly after the event. In response, Beattie argued that there was nothing wrong with holding private functions at Government House, especially as Bryce had paid for the events out of her own pocket."Partying OK says Beattie" (16 April 2005), p. 17.] Beattie had made moves in 2004 to increase the levels of accountability and transparency of the office.Parnell (24 November 2004), p. 10.]

In January 2008 it was announced her initial 5-year term, due to end in late July 2008, was to be extended to cover the period of Queensland's sesquicentennial celebrations in 2009. [Springborg backs Bryce term extension (28 January 2008)] The extension did not eventuate, however, as she was appointed Governor-General (see below), and she was succeeded as Queensland Governor on 29 July 2008 by Penelope Wensley.Binne (29 July 2008)]


On 13 April 2008 it was announced that, on the recommendation of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, the Queen had approved her appointment as the next Governor-General of Australia. [cite web|url = http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page6242.asp|title = Announcement of the appointment of a new Governor-General of Australia| publisher = Buckingham Palace | accessdate = 2008-04-14] The decision was generally well received: current and previous State Premiers supported her selection, (including Joan Kirner and John Brumby), and both the Leader of the Opposition, Brendan Nelson, and the leader of the Australian Greens, Bob Brown, spoke in favour of the decision.Cooke (14 April 2008), p. 5.] From the wider community, Patricia Edgar described Bryce's selection as an "inspired choice",Edgar (19 April 2008), p. 53.] while Jill Singer in the "Herald Sun" stated that the decision signaled "an important about face for Australia".Singer (15 April 2008), p. 19.]

Nevertheless, there was some opposition to the appointment, in particular from columnist Des Houghton, who argued that she would bring a "fair bit of baggage" to the role (in reference to the controversies surrounding her time as the Governor of Queensland), and that she had failed to live up to her promise to be outspoken during her time at Government House.Houghton (19 April 2008), p. 12.] Concerns were also raised in August 2008, when it was revealed that Bryce intended to replace Malcolm Hazell, who had been the Official Secretary for both Major General Michael Jeffery and Archbishop Peter Hollingworth, with Stephen Brady. Kevin Rudd defended Bryce's decision, though, arguing that she had the right to appoint a new Official Secretary.Shanahan (26 August 2008), p. 12.]

Bryce was sworn in on 5 September 2008. On 23 September 2008 she granted her first, exclusive interview as Governor-General with Kerry O'Brien for "The 7.30 Report" on ABC1. [O'Brien (2008)]


* 1988 - Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for service to the community, particularly to women and children
* 2000 - Australian Sports Medal for services to women's cricket [cite web| url = http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/whats-on/exhibit/online/favthings/bryce| title = Government: Quentin Bryce, AC | work = A few of our favourite things: 10 Queenslanders explore the State Library of Queensland's collections |publisher = State Library of Queensland |date = January 2008|accessdate = 2008-04-14]
* 2003 - Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) [cite web| url = http://www.itsanhonour.gov.au/honours/honour_roll/search.cfm?aus_award_id=1129439&search_type=simple&showInd=true | title = Australian Honours for Quentin Bryce - Order of Australia| accessdate = 2008-04-14]
* 2003 - Dame of the Order of St John of Jerusalem

Personal life

She married Michael Bryce (now Adjunct Professor Michael Bryce AM AE [cite web|url=http://www.govhouse.qld.gov.au/the_governor/documents/MBryceCVJune2006.pdf |title=Mr Michael Bryce AM, AE|publisher=Queensland Government|format=PDF|accessdate=2008-09-15] ) in 1964 and together they have two daughters, three sons, and five grandchildren.

Professor Bryce is an Adjunct Professor of Design at the Queensland College of Art (Griffith University), the School of Design and Architecture at the University of Canberra, and the College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales. He has announced that he is selling his successful design company "to avoid any breath of conflict of interest" now that his wife is governor-general.Wright (6 September 2008)]




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