Mourners gather to watch Gough Whitlam’s memorial service at Old Parliament House

admin | 杭州桑拿
4 Dec 2018

King’s Hall in Old Parliament House in Canberra hosted a screening of the Gough Whitlam memorial service broadcast from Sydney on Wednesday. Photo: Andrew Meares The crowd in King’s Hall at Old Parliament House. Photo: Rohan Thompson

There were cheers and tears as mourners farewelled Australia’s 21st prime minister. Photo: Rohan Thompson

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Former prime minister Gough Whitlam could only have imagined when he first visited Old Parliament House on a school excursion in 1928 that he would go on to serve as a parliamentarian for more than two decades, including three years as the nation’s leader, within its walls.

So it was fitting that more than 150 Canberrans gathered in the King’s Hall to remember the legacy of Australia’s 21st prime minister on Wednesday morning.

Mr Whitlam’s state memorial service, which took place before 1900 mourners at Sydney Town Hall, was screened live in the building which now houses the Museum of Australian Democracy.

Museum workers and Whitlam admirers were among the crowd who visited to farewell the former Labor leader, who died on October 21, aged 98.

There was a cheer as the service’s master of ceremonies and former Whitlam staffer, Kerry O’Brien, mentioned those watching live from the capital.

But the jubilation was mixed with sorrow for many, with several onlookers shedding tears as the service got under way.

Among them was Ross Humpreys, 63, who said he felt “a huge amount of emotion”.

“He understood that if you help people, everyone is better off.

“It was exciting, it was palpable.

“He had a plan for 20 years.”

Mr Humphreys, of Flynn, studied economics and maths at the University of New England and became a high school teacher.

“I wouldn’t have got my teaching degree without him,” he said.

“I was the first one in my family to go to university.”

He said if it wasn’t for Mr Whitlam, “I would probably be a rich carpenter.”

Mourners at the screening stood to sing the national anthem and sung along to Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody crooning “From Little Things, Big Things Grow”.

They were also invited to pay tribute to Mr Whitlam and share their memories in a condolence book.

Those who left messages described him as “a visionary”, “my hero” and “a man of great stature and vision”.

“Thank you for being a wonderful thinker and leader for this great land of ours. We will miss you,” one of the messages read.

Another visitor wrote: “Simply extraordinary. Thank you, our nation and world are so deeply enriched by you.”

A Museum of Australian Democracy spokeswoman said staff were pleased so many people turned out to watch the special broadcast.

“We thought it was important to provide a place for the Canberra community to come together to commemorate Gough.”

Speakers at Wednesday’s state memorial included Labor Senator John Faulkner, Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson, Mr Whitlam’s former speech writer Graham Freudenberg, acress Cate Blanchett and Mr Whitlam’s oldest child, Tony Whitlam QC.

The service was also streamed live at Cabramatta’s Freedom Plaza in Sydney and Federation Square in Melbourne.

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