Governors of Western Australia
His Excellency Dr Kenneth Comninos MICHAEL AC: 2006-2011
Dr Ken Michael AC is a distinguished engineer in his own right, but is better known for his tireless and respected contribution to many aspects of government, business and community activity within Western Australia spanning more than 40 years.
He was born in Perth in 1938 and is the son of migrants from the island of Castellorizo in Greece. His father arrived in Australia in the 1890s as a young boy, became a naturalised Australian citizen in 1905, soon after Federation, and served with the 11th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Forces in the First World War. His mother arrived in the mid 1930s and married his father soon after.
Dr Michael attended Highgate Primary School. He was eight years of age when his father passed away, placing a major burden on his mother and family, a situation replicated in many other cases. He was fortunate to have support from his family, Perth Legacy and the then Department of Repatriation (now Veterans' Affairs), which gave him the opportunity to pursue his education.
He studied at Perth Boys' High School and Perth Modern School before embarking on his educational pursuits at The University of Western Australia.
He completed a Bachelor of Engineering with First Class Honours in Civil Engineering in 1961, and in doing so received the James A Wood Memorial Prize.
He started his career as a bridge design engineer with the Main Roads Department, before travelling, a few years later, with his newly married wife Julie to London under the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan to undertake postgraduate studies at the Imperial College of Science and Technology. His postgraduate studies and research at Imperial College culminated in Dr Michael being awarded a PhD degree in engineering from the University of London in 1968.
He returned to Main Roads to continue his work on bridge design and some years later, in 1976, was transferred to Geraldton with his wife and young family as Divisional Engineer (now referred to as Regional Manager) of the Geraldton Region. He returned to Perth in 1979, where he continued his work on bridges, before broadening his career into road design, construction and management.
In 1991, he was appointed Commissioner of Main Roads, a position he held for over six years, which extended the scope of his activities to the national and international arena, including his appointment as Australia's First Delegate to the Permanent International Association of Road Congresses (World Road Association). He was also a member of the West Australian Planning Commission, and concurrently held the position of Public Service Commissioner with that of Commissioner of Main Roads for just over a year from August 1993.
In August 1997, he retired from the public service to start his consulting engineering and management practice. In his private capacity, he also had the opportunity to become involved in a number of other areas of interest.
Until the end of 2003, Dr Michael was the Western Australian Independent Gas Pipelines Access Regulator for almost 5 years and concurrently was also the Acting Rail Access Regulator for just over 2 years. Until December 2005 he was also a member of the Economic Regulation Authority, a new organisation which subsumed both positions from 1 January 2004.
He served on the Board of the East Perth Redevelopment Authority from its inception in 1992 and was its Chairman in recent years. He was also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Western Australian Museum for more than seven years.
He was Chairman of Commissioners of the Town and Shire of Albany, and following the amalgamation of these two local authorities, he was appointed Chairman of Commissioners of the City of Albany, until a Council was elected in 1999.
Dr Michael was elected to the University of Western Australia's governing body - the Senate - in March 1998, and elected Pro Chancellor in the same year. His appointment as Chancellor in April 2001 was for a term of four years. In 2004 the Senate extended Dr Michael's appointment as Chancellor for a further term of four years.
He is a past president of the Rotary Club of Perth and the Hellenic Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He was a member of the Board of the Cancer Council of WA. He was also a member of the Board of the Centre of Leadership and Management, an initiative of the Institution of Engineers, Australia.
In 1996, Dr Michael was honoured with membership of the General Division in the Order of Australia for public service and services to engineering and in 2006 became a Companion in the Order of Australia for wide ranging community service of lasting benefit, particularly in the development and management of road transport systems, engineering, tertiary education, cultural institutions and the Greek community.
He was also recognised as Western Australian Citizen of the Year for 2001 in the category of the Professions; awarded the Peter Nicol Russell Memorial Medal for 2002 by the Institution of Engineers, Australia "in recognition of the outstanding service rendered to engineering and Australia"; and awarded the Centenary of Federation Medal in 2003 for service to the public, engineering and the Greek community.
His comprehensive list of professional affiliations include Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Transport, and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management. He is also a member of the Road Engineering Association of Asia and Australia.
On 18 January 2006, Dr Michael was sworn in as the 30th Governor of Western Australia.
Dr Michael has been married to Julie for more than 42 years and they have two children, three grandsons, including twins and a grand-daughter. His interests include walking, reading and philately and he has recently renewed his interest in golf and tennis.
Dr Michael resigned as Governor on 2 May 2011.