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Curriculum Vitae of The Governor
His Excellency The Honourable Peter Underwood AC
Governor of Tasmania
His Excellency, the Honourable Peter Underwood AC was sworn in as Tasmania’s 27th Governor on 2 April 2008. He was a judge of the Supreme Court of Tasmania from September 1984 until 2 December 2004 when he was appointed Chief Justice of that Court, an office he held until he assumed the Office of Governor.
In addition to his commission as an Australian State Superior Court Judge, His Excellency was the Deputy President of the Australian Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal from 1996 - 2007. He was the President of the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration from 2002 – September 2004, and in 2007 was appointed Chair of the National Judicial College of Australia. In 2001 the University of Tasmania awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in recognition of his services to legal education, the arts and the administration of justice. In June 2002 his Excellency was appointed an officer of the Order of Australia for service to the judiciary and to the law, particularly in the areas of law reform, legal education and mentoring of young practitioners, and to the community as a leader in cultural and artistic organisations in Tasmania. In October 2009, at Buckingham Palace Her Majesty the Queen invested His Excellency with the insignia of Companion of the Order of Australia.
During his time on the Supreme Court of Tasmania his Excellency showed a special interest in the reform of civil procedure and the use of technology as an aid to judicial work. In 1989, he introduced civil case management to the Supreme Court of Tasmania. He was instrumental in the introduction and development of computer technology in the Court and just prior to leaving the Court in 2008; he set up new case management procedures to expedite the disposition of indictable offences.
His Excellency has an interest in teaching. As well as teaching the Supreme Court Practice and Advocacy Unit at the University of Tasmania Professional Legal Training Program, until his appointment as Chief Justice, he taught advocacy in all States of Australia with the Advocacy Institute of Australia and overseas with the College of Law (UK). From 1989 - 1994, His Excellency was the Chair of the Friends' School, a large Hobart Quaker school.
His Excellency also has an interest in the arts and from 1997 to 2006 was the Chair of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Board. Earlier directorships were held on the Tasmanian Theatre Trust Board, the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board and other performing arts organisations.
His Excellency was born in the United Kingdom and migrated to Australia with his family in 1950. He attended the Launceston High School and later, the University of Tasmania. Prior to his appointment to the Bench his Excellency practised law in Hobart, Tasmania. Although his practice was largely a civil one, he appeared as counsel in a number of major criminal trials, Royal Commissions and the like. He was one of the counsel for the Commonwealth of Australia in the landmark Constitutional case, Tasmania v the Commonwealth (the Tasmanian Dams Case).
His Excellency is married to Frances, BA, Dip Ed, A Mus A, MACE who was the Principal of the Friends' Junior School, Hobart until her retirement on 31 December 2004. He has four children and three stepchildren.