5 November, 2014. 15:09
STANLEY WORTHINGTON | Sydney Correspondent |[email protected]
Those present at today’s state memorial for former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam were able to witness history-making speeches and performances array of celebrities and political identities as they paid tribute the man they call ‘Comrade’.
With appearances from the likes of Cate Blanchett, Kev Carmody, Paul Kelly and just about everyone from both ends of the political spectrum – it was the powerful eulogy made by Indigenous leader Noel Pearson that is being hailed on social media as a one of the best political speeches of our time.
However, with the entire Town Hall of Sydney sitting in complete, emotional silence – it was the ‘host’ of today’s proceedings that seemed the least interested.
Tony Abbott, who was met outside of Town Hall with jeers that verged on booeing, was seen to be asleep during Pearson’s touching tribute. Something that comes across as quite a bad look for our current leader, as man who is not exactly a superstar in the Indigenous community.
It became quite obvious as Pearson’s speech began to draw an emotional rise from the crowd – media cameras present began to pan across the audience to gauge the reaction of the audience, briefly skimming past the sleeping Prime Minister.
The speech had not even finished before #NoelPearson became a trending topic on both Twitter and Facebook, undoubtedly the one speech of the day that the Prime Minister would have wanted to stay awake for.
“Without Mr Whitlam,” Mr Pearson said, there would have been no land rights, and his chances in this nation were purely the result of the Whitlam government.
“This old man was one of those rare people who never suffered discrimination but understood the importance of protection from its malice.”
The Whitlam government is the “textbook case of reform trumping management”,
“In less than three years an astonishing reform agenda leapt off the policy platform and into legislation … the country would change forever,”
“The modern cosmopolitan Australia finally emerged like a technicolour butterfly”.
Abbott was able to catch the final moments of Pearson’s tribute after being violently elbowed in the ribs by his wife Margie.