Humility, grace, intellect: Our next Governor General Sam Mostyn

Humility, grace, intellect: Sam Mostyn is an inspired choice for governor-general

Next Governor General Sam Mostyn

One thing to know about our next governor-general, Sam Mostyn, is that she is someone who genuinely cares. 

She cares about the meaning of service, having values and purpose. She cares about gender equality and women’s safety. She cares about addressing racism, and closing the gap for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people. She cares about climate change, sustainability and the environment. 

She cares about sport and community participation and family, and she cares about those in informal and formal caring roles.

But many of us care for these things. Few of us can advocate for them with the humility, grace and intellect of someone like Mostyn. With a warm and engaging communication style, Mostyn brings people together, rather than pushing those who may disagree to the fringes.

Mostyn shares this engaging approach equally, regardless of position title or the power and influence someone may hold. This is an exceptional skill in leadership, demonstrating true empathy, an ability to connect and ultimately then to listen and learn and collaborate on developing great solutions. 

Announcing Mostyn’s appointment this morning as Australia’s next Governor-General, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described Mostyn as “an exceptional leader who represents the best of modern Australia.”

She doesn’t just represent these things, she has also delivered on them.

Mostyn is a lawyer who has served on multiple corporate boards and was the first woman appointed as a commissioner of the AFL. She was previously president of Chief Executive Women and led on the Albanese Government’s Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce, delivering a number of key recommendations to the government. 

She has led and advocated on multiple issues including gender equality, Indigenous rights, and climate action and sustainability. But never one to be put in a box on being about one key issue or role, she said today, “I have always believed that we are all so much more interesting and complex than the stereotypes often drawn.” 

“The beauty of Australians is our ability to pull together, often despite our differences. I’ve had engaging discussions with farmers about the challenges of climate change, listened deeply to young people, talking enthusiastically about civics and democracy and intergenerational fairness. I spent time listening carefully to single mothers and domestic violence survivors, and I have had coffees and stories in Men’s Sheds.”

Mostyn will be Australia’s 28th Governor General when she is sworn in on the 1st July, and just the second woman to hold the role. She will be the first business leader in the position.

In a statement today, Chief Executive Women president Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz highlighted Mostyn’s contribution as a visionary leader, highlighting how she transformed CEW’s advocacy agenda at a critical time for Australian women by pushing for governments to place care at the centre of the Australian economy, which CEW is continuing to call for ahead of this year’s federal budget. She described Mostyn as a “highly empowering and consultative leader”. 

Last week at the Forbes Women’s Summit, Mostyn spoke about her childhood growing up with three sisters as part an Army family that moved around. She described how the family was heavily involved in the disability sector, especially wih her young sister having an intellectual disability. She described how they developed a sense of volunteerism and remaining humble through everything. 

“There was always this thing about never showing off. Just remain humble to do the work.”

She raised concerns about “losing the art for respectful conversation” that is happening and has been happening in Australia.

“How do we learn from one another to actually love one another in a moment and not contest the ideas and always fight with one another?” 

She also shared how she would prepare for discussions and conversation, pulling in her experience in boardrooms. “I constantly ask myself in the moment, am I listening and actively listening to the people in this room? Or am I waiting to talk?” Mostyn said, noting that while she loves to talk, if you’re simply waiting for someone to draw breath so you can drop into a conversation, you’re not actually hearing anything. 

“So I check all the time, am I really listening and actively listening? And then I can have something important to say that makes sense, not just waiting for my moment to speak.” 

While such an appointment inevitably raises questions about the need to ask a King for approval, the Australian Republic Movement has already shared positive statements regarding Mostyn. 

Co Chair of the movement, Craig Foster, described Mostyn as a “inspired choice” for the role. “She is someone who is genuine, a beautiful human being who cares about others.”

He said Mostyn is someone he is sure Australians would “choose as a Head of State if we had a choice, rather than asking for approval of a king.” 

Mostyn would indeed be a wonderful President of an Australian republic, as Foster said. But for now, we are thrilled to have her appointed Australia’s 28th governor-general. 

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