Gough Whitlam‘s state memorial service moved thousands of Australians yesterday — but no part of the ceremony captured the nation’s sentiment more powerfully than the eulogy of indigenous leader Noel Pearson.
Pearson’s eulogy — which charted the highs and lows of “this old man’s”
career, praising the former Prime Minister for his “great love and dedication” to Australia and its people — has already been widely praised on social media as one of the greatest speeches of our time.
If you haven’t heard these stunning words, put five minutes aside and have a read.
It’s the sort of stunning, goosebumps-raising oration you’ll probably only get to hear a handful of times in our life.
Noel Pearson’s eulogy in full:
“Paul Keating said the reward for public life is public progress.
For one born estranged from the nation’s citizenship, into a humble family of a marginal people striving in the teeth of poverty and discrimination, today it is assuredly no longer the case.
This because of the equalities of opportunities afforded by the Whitlam program.
Raised next to the wood heap of the nation’s democracy, bequeathed no allegiance to any political party, I speak to this old man’s legacy with no partisan brief.
Rather, my signal honour today on behalf of more people than I could ever know, is to express our immense gratitude for the public service of this old man.
I once took him on a tour to my village and we spoke about the history of the mission and my youth under the Government of his nemesis, Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
Here’s a video of the speech. Post continues after video:
My home was an Aboriginal reserve under a succession of Queensland laws commencing in 1897.