Victoria University kicked off the first in its series of public lectures from past and present Australian Governors General yesterday when The Right Reverend the Honourable Dr Peter Hollingworth delivered a thought-provoking address on Civil Society, Religion and the Rule of Law.
The unique series was designed as a tribute to the intellectual contributions and influence of the late Sir Zelman Cowen, Australia’s 19th Governor General, who is also the namesake of VU’s well respected legal research institute, the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre.
Hosted by former Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, an adjunct professor in VU’s College of Law and Justice and chair of the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre, the lecture drew more than 150 leaders from government, education, religion and the law, as well as VU students and secondary school students from Gilmore College Girls’ School in Footscray. Sir Zelman’s widow, Lady Anna Cowen also attended with some of her family.
Dr Hollingworth, Australia’s 23rd governor general from 2001 to 2003, delivered his oration through the perspective of his many roles as a governor general, bishop, priest, social worker and welfare director.
In a speech that ranged from the foundational influence of the Magna Carta to modern democracy to the challenges facing a secular civil society, Dr Hollingworth said much could be learned from the past two centuries, in particular the need to never take for granted the three-fold legacy of the rule of law, religious and social freedoms, and a stable democratic system.
The next Governor General series will feature Major General Michael Jeffery on 15 October 2014.
The Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce and the current Governor General, the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove will participate in the series in 2015 at dates to be confirmed.