Blanchett, Noel Pearson pay tribute to heroic Whitlam
ACTOR Cate Blanchett has thanked Gough Whitlam for her education at a memorial service for the former Prime Minister in Sydney.
She addressed the crowd of almost 2,000 people that gathered at Sydney Town Hall along with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and four other former prime ministers and other dignitaries.
Blanchett said she felt a great loss when she learned Mr Whitlam had died.
"The loss I felt came down to something very deep and very simple, I am the beneficiary of free tertiary education," she said.
She even credited her tertiary education with her discovery of acting.
"When I went to university, I could explore different courses and engage with the student union in extra-ciricular activitiy, it is through that that I discovered acting.
"I am the beneficiary of good free health care and that meant that the little I earned after tax and rent could go towards seeing shows bands and living inside my generation's expression.
"I was but three when he passed by, but I shall be grateful until the day I die."
Blanchett's speech has received wide praise, but it is Indigenous leader Noel Pearson whose tribute to Mr Whitlam is being lauded as one of the best political speeches of our time.
"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."
Gough Whitlam died at the age of 98 on October 21 after a lifetime dedicated to public service, from his time in the defence force to his single term as prime minister.
The service was oversubscribed for attendance, with 1700 officially allowed in the town hall, while hundreds more lined the streets outside.
It was also broadcast on television screens in Melbourne's Federation Square, where many more gathered and stopped to remember the former Labor leader.
- APN NEWSDESK