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Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Page: 385


Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (10:29): I rise to add my voice to the many words of condolence on the passing of Sir Zelman Cowen. I never met the man. The first Governor-General of whom I was aware was Sir John Kerr, but the man of whom we are speaking now set the template for what the Governor-General's role is today. The man's smile seemed so warm. He seemed so friendly, so welcoming, so Australian and so tailored to the role of Governor-General.

But Sir Zelman's legacy to me will not be so much in relation to his role as Governor-General, although that is the thing he is most known for. I come from Townsville, where we have a regional university, James Cook University. After having been a Rhodes scholar, and as a 31-year-old associate professor at Melbourne University, it would have been so easy to stay in academia in Victoria. But to him to take up the vice-chancellor role in Armidale for the University of New England says to me that he focused on education for all and that education is a key to all things. To branch out in education away from the sandstone buildings and into the regions was a truly remarkable feat by a truly remarkable man. He was then to go on to be vice-chancellor at the University of Queensland during the 1970 Springbok tour, when the city of Brisbane was nearly torn to pieces as competing interests and passion on all sides rallied and protests were made. His role as a healer then was every bit as evident as later on in the country.

I also mention his role as a mentor. I speak often with the member for Kooyong, who has told me of his friendship with Sir Zelman. I think those of us who have mentors who are older than us. In my city it is Graham Jackson of Loloma Jewellers, who gives and gives of his time and is always welcoming. I think that is what it would have been like to be in the company of Sir Zelman Cowen, to be in the company of someone who is willing to give his information and who is willing to give his knowledge as his true gift to Australia, and I think that is something we will always be very aware of.