David John Hurley was born on 26 August 1953 to Norma and James Hurley. His father was an Illawarra steelworker and his mother worked in a grocery store. Hurley grew up in Port Kembla and attended Port Kembla High School, where he completed his Higher School Certificate in 1971. He subsequently graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon with a Bachelor of Arts and Graduate Diploma in Defence Studies.
He is married to Linda (née McMartin) and has three children.
In a 42-year military career, Hurley deployed on Operation Solace in Somalia in 1993, commanded the 1st Brigade (1999–2000), was the inaugural Chief of Capability Development Group (2003–2007) and Chief of Joint Operations (2007–2008) and served as Vice Chief of the Defence Force (2008–2011). His career culminated with his appointment as Chief of the Defence Force on 4 July 2011, in succession to Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston. Hurley retired from the army in June 2014, and succeeded Dame Marie Bashir as Governor of New South Wales on 2 October 2014.
He entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon, as an officer cadet in January 1972. On graduating from Duntroon in December 1975, he was commissioned a lieutenant in the Royal Australian Infantry Corps. His initial posting was to the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR). Promoted to captain, he was appointed adjutant of the Sydney University Regiment before becoming regimental adjutant of the Royal Australian Regiment. He went on exchange to the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards, a British Army unit, before serving with 5th/7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.
Promoted to lieutenant colonel, Hurley was posted as the Senior Career Adviser (Armour, Artillery, Engineers and Infantry) in the Office of the Military Secretary in 1990, appointed SO1 (Operations) Headquarters 2nd Division in early 1991, and in November 1991 assumed command of 1RAR, which he led during Operation Solace in Somalia in 1993. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his service during this deployment. In 1994 he became SO1 (Operations), Headquarters 1st Division.
Following promotion to colonel, Hurley was appointed Chief of Staff, Headquarters 1st Division in June 1994, attended the United States Army War College from 1996 to 1997, became Military Secretary to Chief of Army, and was posted to Australian Defence Headquarters as Director of Preparedness and Mobilization in December 1997. As a brigadier, he assumed command of the 1st Brigade in Darwin in January 1999. During this period he oversaw the brigade's transition to a higher degree of operational readiness and its support to Australian–led operations in East Timor. He went on to be Director General Land Development within Capability Systems in January 2001.
He was promoted to major general in 2001 and served as Head Capability Systems Division from July 2001, and as Land Commander Australia from December 2002.
Promoted to lieutenant general, he assumed the new appointment of Chief of Capability Development Group in December 2003, went on to take the newly separated appointment of Chief of Joint Operations in September 2007, and became Vice Chief of the Defence Force in July 2008.
David Hurley was promoted to general and succeeded Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston as Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) on 4 July 2011.
In January 2012 Hurley completed 40 years service to the Australian Defence Force, and on 20 January while in Paris, he was presented with the insignia for Officer of the Legion of Honour by the French CDF. In February, he was presented with a fifth clasp to the Defence Force Service Medal in recognition of his 40 years of service.
David Hurley retired from the Australian Army on 30 June 2014, and was succeeded as CDF by Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin.
Lieutenant General David Morrison, the 2016 Australian of the Year, credited Hurley with the phrase "the standard you walk past is the standard you accept" in his anti-misogyny speech, which became "one of the most quoted phrases" of Morrison's speech.
Governor of New South Wales
On 5 June 2014, New South Wales Premier Mike Baird announced that Hurley would replace Dame Marie Bashir as Governor of New South Wales: he was sworn in on 2 October 2014 after Bashir's term as governor had expired.
On 17 March 2015, he was invested as a Knight of the Order of St John (a British honour) by the Lord Prior of the Order, Neil Conn, at a ceremony at Government House, Sydney.
Governor-General of Australia
On 16 December 2018, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Hurley would become the next Governor-General of Australia commencing on 1 July 2019. He was sworn in as the 27th Governor-General at Parliament House, Canberra, on 1 July 2019. His first words were spoken in the language of the local Aboriginal people.
On 11 September 2019, when attending an Indonesian national day reception held by the Indonesian Embassy at the Australian National Gallery in Canberra, Hurley opted to make his address to the reception in Indonesian. After first making his address in Indonesian, he repeated his comments in English. This is the first recorded occasion that any Australian Governor-General has made any extended statement in Indonesian on any occasion in Australia.
David Hurley is an Honorary Patron of the ACT Veterans Rugby Club and Patron of Transport Heritage NSW.
Titles, styles and honours
David Hurley's style and title in full from 1 July 2019 is: His Excellency General The Honourable David John Hurley, Principal Companion and Chancellor of the Order of Australia, Distinguished Service Cross, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.