After Sir Zelman Cowen’s death I spoke to my father, Angelo Vasta QC, who reminisced that, out of all the lecturers during his time at the University of Melbourne, Sir Zelman was by far the most inspirational and interesting. Some lecturers with a high intellect seemed to expect their listeners to grasp complex legal principles very quickly, but Sir Zelman had the unique ability to be able to express difficult concepts in a very simplistic manner.
Later my father was further impressed by Sir Zelman’s great ability as an administrator during his term as Vice Chancellor of the University of Queensland. In 1988 my parents also had the privilege of attending the first medico-legal conference in Athens with Sir Zelman. My father said that he especially remembered with fondness the memorable bus ride that they all enjoyed to the Delphic Oracle.
Recently, I was very moved by the eulogy given by my friend and colleague Josh Frydenberg at Sir Zelman’s funeral. His passionate words and moving delivery touched us all. On my own behalf and on behalf of my family, I extend our sincere condolences to Lady Anna and to the wider Cowen family. Our lives were all greatly enriched by having known him. He was a luminary and a truly iconic Australian.