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Adelaide's Archbishop Geoffrey Smith elected Australia's new Primate

Smith to follow Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier, who resigned from the role on March 31

Archbishop of Adelaide and new Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop Geoffrey Smith

By Mark Brolly

April 7 2020Archbishop Geoffrey Smith of Adelaide is Australia's new Anglican Primate.

He succeeds Melbourne's Archbishop Philip Freier, whose resignation took effect on 31 March after Dr Freier had served almost six years in the post.

The new Primate takes office immediately following an electronic ballot by the Primatial Board of Electors that was held over a 24-hour period from 4pm on Monday 6 April.

He is to serve an initial six-year term.

Ms Anne Hywood, the General Secretary of General Synod, confirmed Archbishop Smith's election in a letter to General Synod members, writing that he had received the requisite majorities in each house of bishops, clergy and laity "and has accepted this office in writing".

Archbishop Smith, who celebrated his 60th birthday last year, told the Anglican Communion News Service: “I am very conscious of the enormous privilege we the church have in sharing the mission of Christ, and the importance of unity in that task. My prayer is that our unity might be strengthened to better enable the witness and work of the church in the world.”

He became the 10th Bishop and fifth Archbishop of Adelaide and Metropolitan of South Australia in 2017. Before his installation as Archbishop on 28 April that year, Archbishop Smith was an Assistant Bishop and General Manager and Registrar of the Diocese of Brisbane.

Ordained a deacon for the Diocese of Grafton in 1982 and priested the following year, Archbishop Smith's other roles have included being Rector of Taraka in Papua New Guinea, first Vicar of the Parochial District of Sawtell-Bonville in NSW, National Director of the Anglican Board of Mission – Australia and Bishop of the Southern Region of the Brisbane diocese.

This week's ballot follows a deadlock at the first meeting of the Board of Electors in Sydney on 14 March -- before COVID-19 restrictions were imposed -- in which it is understood that Archbishop Smith fell only one vote short in the House of Clergy in four of the seven ballots held then. Bishop Richard Condie of Tasmania was the last remaining contender.

The vote this week is believed to have been 31-11 for Archbishop Smith, with clear majorities in all houses.

Sydney Anglican priest and blogger the Revd David Ould wrote on davidould.net that Archbishop Smith's election this week "follows a decision to abstain by a number of those clergy who had previously voted for Bishop Condie of Tasmania".

"The new Primate’s first task was to have been chairing the General Synod," Mr Ould wrote. "That meeting has now been postponed until 2021. Attention will now turn to the Appellate Tribunal who will make a ruling on the Wangaratta and Newcastle dioceses’ decision to approve a blessing of persons in a same-sex marriage."

Archbishop Freier announced last November that he would step down as Primate before his term was due to expire and would not seek re-election but that he would continue as the Archbishop of Melbourne, a role he has held since 2006.

Brisbane's Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, who was Primate from 2005-14, was acting Primate in the brief period between Dr Freier’s resignation taking effect and Archbishop Smith's election on Tuesday.