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Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Page: 389

Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (10:44): Many of my colleagues have had the privilege of knowing Sir Zelman Cowen and have spoken fondly of their memories of him, outlining how, through friendship and mentoring, he helped shape their lives. Sir Zelman was appointed the 19th Governor-General in 1977 and, from all accounts, he was surprised but delighted by this appointment. Sir Zelman has been described by many as a healer of the people through his role as the Governor-General. My colleague the member for Kooyong said that Sir Zelman set a standard which will be the benchmark for those who follow as Governor-General. He had an impeccable reputation based on a life lived with honesty and integrity, according to the member for Kooyong. Others have commented that he returned a dignity to the role of Governor-General.

Throughout his 92 years he witnessed some major historical events that certainly shaped our country. Sir Zelman Cowen had a link to Darwin and the Northern Territory. His first visit to Darwin was in 1942 as a Navy lieutenant during World War II. In fact Sir Zelman was in Darwin when it was bombed by the Japanese in February 1942. I understand that Sir Zelman has, over the years, given several accounts of his experiences during the bombings of Darwin. These accounts have assisted many historians in ensuring that this very important event in our history has been recorded. In a couple of weeks time we will be commemorating the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Darwin and, unfortunately, Sir Zelman will not be with us for these commemorations.

Another historical event that Sir Zelman was involved in that relates to the Northern Territory was when as the Governor-General in 1978 he opened the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory. This was a significant event for Territorians, as this was when the Northern Territory was granted self-government. I did not personally know Sir Zelman, but from all accounts he was an amazing man and I am just delighted that he was able to be involved in some significant events for the Northern Territory. I extend my condolences to Lady Anna and her family.