Gough Whitlam memorial: Noel Pearson delivers grand eulogy

admin | 杭州桑拿
4 Dec 2018

Noel Pearson received rave reviews for his tribute to Gough Whitlam. Photo: Peter RaeIt was a grand eulogy befitting a Prime Minister who will be remembered as one of Australia’s great orators.

When Indigenous leader Noel Pearson rose to “speak to this old man’s legacy with no partisan brief” his resounding speech on Gough Whitlam’s legacy captivated a full house at Sydney’s Town Hall, and thousands of people who had gathered outside to pay their respects.

It is now being acclaimed as one of the great public eulogies in Australian history.

“There is no more compelling public speaker in Australia than Noel Pearson,” said Michael Fullilove, executive director of Lowy Institute and the editor of the book Men and Women of Australia! Our Greatest Modern Speeches.

“And at Gough Whitlam’s magnificent memorial service, Pearson gave a speech that was worthy of his subject. That’s a very high compliment indeed.”

In Town Hall’s public square, thousands of people crowded together to watch the service from a large screen which had been erected for those members of the public who had been unsuccessful in the ticket lottery.

Undeterred by the hot sun, people stood transfixed as Pearson’s words echoed through the square, extolling Whitlam’s role in freeing Indigenous people “from those discriminations that humiliated and degraded our people”.

“Without this old man, the land and human rights of our people would never have seen the light of day,” he said.

Although Pearson’s speech came midway through the two hour memorial service, when the ceremony concluded people lingered in the square to discuss the great panegyric they had witnessed.

For Robert Thorton, 66, who watched the speech on the public screen, Pearson’s eulogy resonated with the grandeur of one of Martin Luther King Jr’s orations.

“That was in the back of my head the whole time,” he said.

“I’ve never heard anything so moving. His heart was in every word he spoke.”

Peter Scott from Rushcutters Bay praised the speech for its “ferocity and candour” and said it encapsulated the grand oratory of the Whitlam era.

“There was a language [in the speech] that was with us with Gough,” he said.

“Not too many people are capable of delivering that kind of speech. It enlivens and enriches, and thrills the hell of people when they hear it.”

Asking “what did Gough do for us anyway?” Pearson’s rhetorical question drew rounds of applause from the crowd as he rattled off the list of Whitlam’s policy achievements.

“It was a metaphor of Gough and although it was Noel Pearson’s own voice it was the voice of Australia in many ways,” said Theodora Lafkas, who also in the crowd.

Ms Lafkas said people needed to be reminded of Whitlam’s achievements and hoped it “awakened a passion for change”.

Comments are closed.