Peter Sinclair (governor) : biography
Rear Admiral Peter Ross Sinclair (born. 16 November 1934) is a former Rear Admiral in the Royal Australian Navy and was Governor of New South Wales from 8 August 1990 to 1 March 1996. Born in Manly, New South Wales, in November 1934, he was educated North Sydney Boys High School before joining the navy in the Royal Australian Naval College.
After serving many years in the navy, including service in Korea, Vietnam and in relief operations following Cyclone Tracy, Sinclair rose to higher roles in the navy, serving as Commander of HMAS Penguin naval base, Director of Naval Plans and as Chief Project officer during the establishment of the tri-service Australian Defence Force Academy, serving as its first Commandant. In 1987 he was appointed Flag Officer Commanding HM Australian Fleet, a position which later changed to Maritime Commander, Australia. In 1989 he was appointed as Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff but served only briefly until his retirement.
When his friend and navy colleague, Sir David Martin, resigned his commission as Governor of New South Wales in August 1990 due to an advancing medical condition, Sinclair was appointed to succeed him. He retired in 1996 while controversy of Carr's proposed changes of the Governor's role emerged in regards to his successor.
Peter Sinclair was born in Manly, New South Wales on 16 November 1934 to Gordon and Dorothy Sinclair. After being educated at North Sydney Boys High School, Sinclair joined the Royal Australian Navy and entered the Royal Australian Naval College as a Cadet in January 1948. After several years he was sent for further studies at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London. Sinclair served on various ships including HMAS Vengeance, HMAS Australia, HMAS Arunta, HMAS Tobruk, HMAS Swan, HMAS Sydney, HMAS Vendetta and HMAS Vampire and saw service in the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Governor of New South Wales
When his friend and navy colleague, Sir David Martin, resigned his commission as Governor of New South Wales on 7 August 1990 due to an advancing medical condition, dying three days later on 10 August, Sinclair was the only person considered as Martin's replacement. The Premier of New South Wales, Nick Greiner, identified a military appointment as the only appropriate successor to Martin and recommended Sinclair's to Buckingham Palace. This was accepted by Queen Elizabeth II and Sinclair was sworn in on the 8 August 1990. At his swearing in, Sinclair declared the he and his wife would "steer a broad course set by Sir David and Lady Martin". Sinclair later took the advice passed on to him from Martin in his notes: "The person who is Governor is not important. The office of Governor is important." During his time at Government House, Sydney, Sinclair increased accessibility to the public. While all previous Governors had maintained public access through Garden Parties and specific events, Sinclair was the first to start Government House open days, the first being on 24 March 1991. By the end of his term in 1996 approximately 35,000 people had visited the Vice-regal residence.
While initially uncertain of his constitutional role, particularly in regards to the Executive Council, Sinclair decreed that all Ministers of the Crown were required to produce a certificate with any legislation requiring assent. The certificate declared that the NSW Crown Solicitor, then Hugh Roberts, had scrutinised the legislation and could therefore recommend assent without problem. While during the Greiner/Fahey Governments, Sinclair received compliance with these requests as well as regular attendance to Council meetings. However, once the Carr Labor Government took power in 1995, Labor ministers were less ready to accede to Crown scrutiny. Sinclair readily took advice from many sources including Chief Justice Murray Gleeson, fellow state Governors and fomer NSW Governors, Sir Roden Cutler and Sir James Rowland.The Governors of New South Wales: 1788-2010, p. 591-592.
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