Former Vietnam refugee Hieu Van Le has been sworn in as South Australia’s new Governor at an official ceremony at the Adelaide Convention Centre.
The ceremony was capped off with a 19-gun vice regal salute from the riverbank.
Mr Le arrived in Darwin by boat in 1977 and is the first Asian migrant to rise to the position of governor in any state in Australia.
“It is an acknowledgement of all migrants and refugees, and their families and descendants who have built South Australia into this place, one of the best in the world,” Mr Le said.
Premier Jay Weatherill said it was historic that South Australia was appointing the first person of Asian descent to such a role in Australia.
But he said Mr Le was a remarkable man who had made an impressive contribution to the nation since his arrival by boat from war-torn Vietnam.
“This appointment is not just about breaking down barriers, important though that may be, it is about the life of an extraordinary man,” he said.
“It is about his past, his present and his future role as Governor of our state.
“Symbols are fine as long as they’re backed up with substance and Hieu Van Le is very definitely a person of substance.”
Mr Le was previously the Lieutenant Governor and chairman of the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission.
He has worked in finance and business after gaining an economics degree at Adelaide University.
Mr Le spoke about South Australia’s remarkable history and said the state had the ability to play a bigger role in the country.
“Whether it be mediocrity of purpose, mediocrity of ideas or moral mediocrity, it should be said, in the past we have punched above our weight,” Mr Le said.
“It is now time for us to accept we have weight and all the responsibilities that it implies.”
Mr Le said he was honoured by his appointment, and given his troubling childhood in a war-torn country, would be an advocate of peace.
“I feel I have been given so much and most of all I have been given the opportunity to give something back,” he said.
“Because I have been a victim of war and conflict I would be an advocate for peace, friendship and cooperation.”
Hieu Van Le AO
- Now 60, he was born in Quang Tri in central Vietnam in 1954
- He is married to Lan, who arrived with him on a boat from Vietnam 36 years ago
- They have two sons, Don and Kim, who they named after Australian cricketers Don Bradman and Kim Hughes
- Mr Le holds a degree in economics and accountancy and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Adelaide University
- He is a member of the Certified Practising Accountants and from 1991 was a senior manager of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission until he retired in early 2009
- He is a patron and member of more than 30 community organisations
- Mr Le was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Australia on Australia Day in 2010
- He has been awarded the Australia Day Medal for outstanding service to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission
- He holds the Australian Centenary Medal ‘for service to the advancement of multiculturalism in Australia’
- Adelaide University awarded him an honorary doctorate for service to society in 2008 and Flinders University bestowed an honour in 2011