An arch republican is now Victoria’s 30th governor following a regal swearing-in ceremony at state parliament on Wednesday.
Professor Margaret Gardner will serve in the largely ceremonial role as King Charles III’s representative, but the proud republican says she won’t be taking her marching orders from the British monarch.
“I should note the role of governor now is much different from when it was originally conceived,” she said back in June after Premier Daniel Andrews announced her appointment to the role.
“The Governor is not subject to in fact following the advice or subject to the veto of the King.
“So even our roles of governor are different now from when we were first a constitutional monarchy and I think that shows Australians can learn and can change and may change the way these roles are understood in the future.
“But I am here to serve the role as it is now.”
The Australia Acts 1986 means state powers conferred on the King are exercised by the Governor and not the King.
The ceremony for the new head of state took place in the red-coloured Legislative Council chamber.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the role of the governor was “central” to the state’s democracy and Constitution and embodied the “beautiful contradictions of our state”.
“Reverence for the past and our steadfast focus on the future,” he said.
Before Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, Governor Gardner affirmed her “faithful allegiance” to the King and his heirs and successors.
She then signed the oath book and proclamation.
In a quiet and reverential speech, Governor Gardner spoke about the spiritual link Victorians felt to their landscape and the “democratic impulse” that has coursed through the state’s history, referencing key moments in democratic expansion such as the 1854 Ballarat Reform League charter.
She also praised the First Peoples’ Assembly as “part of a democratic Victorian tradition”.
She said there was no such thing as a “typical Victorian” and wanted to hear from the state’s multitude of voices.
“There is ample space for the new and the ancient,” she said.
“There is room for the light that comes from many voices being heard.
“I look forward to hearing your voices and learning from your experiences.”
The ceremony ended with a regal salute and the Governor left the chamber.
Governor Gardner is expected to serve a five-year term.
The Governor has extensive experience in the academic and educational fields and led Monash University as president and vice-chancellor from 2014.
She served as RMIT University president and vice-chancellor from 2005 to 2014.