General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove retired from the Army in 2005. Four years earlier, he had been Australian of the Year: “In every respect, Peter Cosgrove demonstrated that he is a role model. The man at the top displayed those characteristics we value most as Australians - strength, determination, intelligence, compassion and humour.”
The son of a soldier, he attended Waverley College in Sydney and later graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in 1968. He was sent to Malaysia as a lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. During his next infantry posting in Vietnam, he commanded a rifle platoon and was awarded the Military Cross for his performance and leadership during an assault on enemy positions.
In 1972 he served a year as ADC to HE the Governor-General and then returned to regimental life as a Company second in command, then Adjutant and then as a Company Commander in 5 RAR and then 5/7 RAR in Holsworthy Sydney. After that came a spell as an instructor at the Army’s Infantry Centre in Singleton, NSW.
Then it was off to the USA for a year with the US Marines but now with a young wife, Lynne and their first-born, Stephen.
The next twenty years saw the family grow to three sons and a wide variety of defence force postings, including extended duty in the UK and India. During this period he commanded the Army’s 1st Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, receiving the AM for his time in command in 1983/4. He was honoured to be invested with this award by Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 1985, during a period of service in the UK as the Australian Army’s exchange instructor at the British Army’s Command and Staff College Camberley. Later he commanded an infantry brigade and attended the Indian National Defence College in New Delhi
In 1999 Peter Cosgrove became a national figure following his appointment as Commander of the International Force East Timor (INTERFET). He was responsible for overseeing East Timor’s transition to independence during, what was to become, a tense and uncertain period. The International Force rapidly and decisively restored law and order and handed it over to another UN force early in 2000. For his leadership of INTERFET, he was subsequently advanced to the rank of Companion in the military division of the Order of Australia and was invested by Her Majesty the Queen at Yarralumla during her visit to Australia early in 2000.
He was soon promoted and made Chief of the Army. He went on to be promoted again to General and was appointed Chief of the Defence Force. Peter Cosgrove retired from the Army in July 2005.
Subsequently, he accepted positions on numerous boards, including QANTAS, Cardno and the Australian Rugby Union. He was appointed by the Queensland Government to lead the task force rebuilding communities in the Innisfail region following the devastation caused by Cyclone Larry in 2006. From 2007 to 2012, he chaired the Council of the Australian War Memorial and served as Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University from 2010 until early 2014.
General Sir Peter Cosgrove gave the Boyer Lectures series, “A Very Australian Conversation” in 2009. His best selling autobiography “My Story” was published in 2006. He was named Australian of the Year in 2001.
On 25 March 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that General Cosgrove would become a Knight in the Order of Australia when sworn in as Governor-General. His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) was sworn in as Australia’s 26th Governor-General and he served in that role until June 2019.
In August 2019 Sir Peter was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order by Her Majesty the Queen.
In January 2020 Sir Peter accepted the voluntary role as chairman of the Business Council of Australia’s Community Rebuilding Initiative in response to the 2019/20 bushfires, leading a group of eminent business and community leaders to work with the government community in the rebuilding process.
The feedback we received from our audience was very positive. Some of the comments included the following: "words of wisdom from General Cosgrove were invaluable", "change is about people an ... keep readingd what people can do outside the normal comfort zone is sometimes amazing. Stretch them and they will perform." "The key take away for me was how much we owe those guys in the armed services. What a fantastic job they do. In the workplace, I learned the value you can get from proper staff selection, training and position description accuracy." Hewlett Packard
General Cosgrove is an iconic Australian in every sense of the word. Having the opportunity to mix socially with our members and their partners the night before his speech, he introduced himself to each person as Peter and mixed freely and comfortably. His speech itself was the ideal blend of personal experience and relevance to the very particular challenges facing our organization globally. Our overseas members were just as impressed by this great Australian leader and his message as I was.
General Peter Cosgrove was the most professional speaker of the conference. His research of the event and industry, understanding of requirements and presence were undeniable.