Malcolm James McCusker AO QC became the 31st Governor of Western Australia on July 1, 2011. He was born in North Perth and educated at North Perth and Lenah Valley Primary Schools, Hobart High School and Perth Modern School.
He graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Western Australia and was admitted to practice in 1961. As a barrister, he has appeared in the WA Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Federal Court, High Court and Privy Council. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1982. Mr McCusker is well known for his successful representation in a number of high profile cases, often pro bono, of wrongfully convicted persons.
In conjunction with his legal practice, for many years he was a part time lecturer at the University of Western Australia in the Faculties of Law and Commerce.
He served as Chairman of the Legal Aid Commission of WA from 1983 to 2011 (the longest serving of any Commissioner in Australia).
From 1989 to 1990, as Special Inspector he headed an investigation into the cause of the collapse of Rothwell’s Bank, which resulted in a number of criminal charges and convictions.
He was the inaugural Parliamentary Inspector of the WA Corruption and Crime Commission, serving a term of 5 years (2004 to 2008).
Having always had a strong interest in constitutional issues, in 1993, he was appointed to chair the WA Constitutional Committee, a group of 12 prominent Western Australians which conducted a series of seminars throughout WA, and produced a number of papers, dealing with State and Federal constitutional issues.
The Committee produced a report which led to the establishment of the WA Constitutional Centre, for the specific purpose of furthering community understanding of, and education in, constitutional matters. Mr McCusker was the first Chairman of the Centre, and remained its Chairman from 1997 to 2011. In 1998 he was also appointed WA member of the Australian Constitutional Centenary Foundation.
Mr McCusker was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for his services to law and the community (2005); WA Citizen of the Year for the Professions (2005); Civil Justice Award from the Australian Lawyer’s Alliance (2007); Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Western Australia (2008); Honorary Doctorate of the University, Edith Cowan University (2009); WA Citizen of the Year for Community Service (2010) and was WA Australian of the Year (2011).
Before his appointment as Governor, he was a foundation trustee of the SAS Resources Trust, established to provide for the widows and dependants of SAS personnel, and is Patron of a number of community organisations including the McCusker Foundation for Alzheimer’s Disease Research; Landcare (WA); and Patron of Royal Lifesaving (WA) and Surf Lifesaving (WA).
He has been involved in the surf lifesaving movement since 1955, and is a long-standing member of North Cottesloe Surf Lifesaving Club. In 1995 he received a Surf Lifesaving bravery award for the rescue of two people attacked by a shark.
He is Chairman of the McCusker Charitable Foundation, which distributes substantial funds each year to worthy charitable bodies, principally (but not exclusively) supporting medical research.
Mr McCusker has had a strong interest in agriculture and agricultural research for nearly 50 years.
Mr McCusker is married to Tonya. They have a daughter, Mary, and she and his stepsons, Nikolas and James live with them. His interests include the law, farming, surf ski paddling, rugby, reading, chess and football.