Well this is all a bit uncomfortable.
Cate’s passionate speech at the Former Prime Minister Whitlam’s funeral described him as ‘mighty’. “The loss I felt came down to something very deep and very simple. I am the beneficiary of free, tertiary education.” That statement was met by cheering and applause by the large crowd.
Today, one month after the funeral, publications have reported John Howard slamming Cate’s speech.
“That speech of Cate Blanchett’s was outrageous. Cate Blanchett is a talented actor, I admire her talent, but to suggest that Whitlam introduced free university education is wrong.”
“The last three years of my university education were completely free and that was 11 years before Whitlam came to power. This idea that it just arrived (with Whitlam) is complete nonsense and it ought to be called out more frequently.”
As Channel Nine news reported:
Whitlam is recorded in history as abolishing all university fees after he came to power in 1972.
But Mr Howard said 70 percent of university students before 1972 had their fees covered by Commonwealth scholarships anyway.
Mr Howard said he went to Sydney University between 1957 and 1961, when Liberal leader Sir Robert Menzies was prime minister, to study law and the last three years of his education were free, after Mr Howard won a Commonwealth scholarship from someone who lost theirs for not doing well enough in their exams.
“In 1989, when it became obvious that we could no longer afford free universities, the Hawke government introduced the HECS system and we supported that,” he was quoted as saying.
You can watch Cate’s eulogy and decide for yourself here: