Noel Pearson praises Gough Whitlam at memorial service in Sydney Town Hall

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28 Oct 2018

Indigenous leader Noel Pearson delivers the eulogy at Gough Whitlam’s memorial service at Sydney Town Hall.Noel Pearson’s eulogy for Gough Whitlam in full
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INDIGENOUS leader Noel Pearson’s electrifying eulogy at Gough Whitlam’s memorial service has been widely acclaimed on social media as one of the best political speeches of our time.

The chairman of the Cape York Group paid tribute to ‘‘this old man’’ Whitlam, praising his foresight and moral vision in striving for universal opportunity in Australia..

The 20-minute address at Sydney’s Town Hall delved into Mr Pearson’s own background of being born into poverty and discrimination.

He labelled Whitlam ‘‘Australia’s greatest white elder’’ and emphasised the former leader’s enduring legacy on indigenous affairs, highlighting the Racial Discrimination Act and progress on land rights.

‘‘Only those born bereft truly know the power of opportunity,’’ Mr Pearson said.

‘‘We salute this old man for his great love and dedication to his country and to the Australian people.

‘‘When he breathed he truly was Australia’s greatest white elder and friend without peer to the original Australians.’’

Mr Pearson said Mr Whitlam was ‘‘one of those rare people who never suffered discrimination but understood the importance of protection from its malice’’.

‘‘He harboured not a bone of ethnic or gender prejudice in his body.’’

He said Mr Whitlam changed Australia forever.

‘‘The cosmopolitan Australia finally emerged like a technicolour butterfly from its long dormant chrysalis.

‘‘Was any more time needed.

‘‘The breadth and depth of reforms secured in that short and tumultuous period were unprecedented and will likely never again be repeated.’’

He referenced a line from British comedy troup Monty Python’s film Life of Brian, asking ‘‘What did the Romans ever do for us anyway?’’ before recounting a bullet-point list of the former prime minister’s achievements.

‘‘Medibank, Trade Practices Act, no-fault divorce, the Family Law Act, the Racial Discrimination Act…’’

A burst of applause from the audience followed each utterance, while pundits heaped praise on his oration on Twitter.

‘‘I am absolutely blown away by Noel Pearson. Such power of words. A fitting tribute to Whitlam one of Australia’s finest orators,’’ said Network Ten political reporter Paul Bongiorno.

‘‘A lump in throat moment delivered by NoelPearson’’ wrote Jenny Muir.

‘‘Watch. Listen. Cry at your desk,’’ wrote SBS’s Stephanie Anderson as she shared a video of the tribute.

Throughout his speech, #NoelPearson trended on Twitter Australia-wide.

AAP

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