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WA s new governor Kerry Sanderson (right) with Premier Colin Barnett at Government House today. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian.
WA's new governor Kerry Sanderson (right) with Premier Colin Barnett at Government House today. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian.

WA’s first female governor, Kerry Sanderson AO, says she does not put much weight on being the first woman to take on the role.

The 63-year-old former Fremantle Ports chief and Agent General was today named as WA’s 32nd governor by Premier Colin Barnett following approval by the Queen.

Mrs Sanderson will formally take up the appointment on October 20.

She said today it was humbling and daunting to be asked to take on the role, but she wanted to seize the opportunity.

The 63-year-old says she has big shoes to fill after Mr McCusker and other governors, but she did not put much weight on being the first woman to take on the role.

“I don't actually distinguish between men and women,” she said.

“I think both do very good jobs in different ways.”

Mrs Sanderson said she was looking forward to engaging with West Australians and to WA support businesses.

“I will have the opportunity to both learn from them and look at ways of supporting them,” she said.

“I’ve enjoyed the previous roles I’ve had and as Agent General I had the ability to promote Western Australia internationally and I really loved that because I’m very passionate about this State.”

Mrs Sanderson revealed she was hesitant about taking on the role of governor when it was first offered.

“I very much hesitated in taking it on because I’m enjoying the roles I currently have, and I’m very close to family friends and I didn’t want to distance myself from that. So I have to do it in a way that doesn’t distance myself.

“I thought about it a bit more and thought I’d always take an opportunity as they are offered. Some of them were a bit daunting, some I hesitated about. When I first was asked to go to Fremantle Ports at that time it was in a difficult situation and I decided yes I should take that opportunity.

“Similarly with the Agent General role, I had not wanted to live overseas but then when I thought about it more it was a great chance to promote WA and this is a great opportunity to engage with people, to learn more and to support the good things, because WA is such a great place.”

Premier Colin Barnett said Mrs Sanderson was “an outstanding Western Australian in every respect”.

Mr Barnett said Mrs Sanderson was eminently suited to undertake the role and he congratulated her on her appointment.

“Mrs Sanderson has had a distinguished career in the public sector and is widely respected throughout the community for her business acumen, her commitment to science and learning and her active involvement in the work of several charities.

“I am very confident that Mrs Sanderson will excel in the role and continue the excellent contribution that Malcolm McCusker made in the position.”

Mrs Sanderson is the Independent Chairman of the State Emergency Management Committee and holds several non-executive director positions in the commercial sector including Downer EDI, Atlas Iron and St John of God Health Care as well as roles in the community and not-for-profit sector. She will resign from all board positions to take on the new role.

For 17 years, Mrs Sanderson was chief executive of the Fremantle Port Authority, steering the organisation to a pre-eminent position, with Fremantle Ports being awarded the Australian Business Excellence Medal, the most prestigious award of its kind in Australia.

Mrs Sanderson also represented the State in London as WA's Agent General between 2008 and 2011, forging strong links in Europe for WA exports and investment.

In 2004, Mrs Sanderson was named an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and in 2005 was the inaugural inductee to the Lloyds List Shipping and Transport Hall of Fame. In 1996, she was the Telstra Businesswoman of the Year for WA.

Aged 63, Mrs Sanderson was born in Subiaco and has two sons. Her husband, Lance, passed away in 2007. Mrs Sanderson is a graduate of Churchlands Senior High School and The University of Western Australia.

Supreme Court chief justice Wayne Martin has performed the role as administrator of the State since July.

He will continue in the role until Mrs Sanderson is sworn in on October 20.

The West Australian

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