A state memorial for former prime minister and eternal legend Gough Whitlam is currently underway in an at-capacity Town Hall in Sydney.
In attendance is every single living Australian prime minister – of which there are *seven and two of whom were booed; a fun game is to guess which! – and the heavenly thespian Cate Blanchett, who called herself “a beneficiary of free tertiary education” to rapturous applause and was tasked with eulogising the impact Whitlam had on women and the arts. Considering all that Whitlam did for both, that’s certainly no mean feat.
“I am a product of an Australia that was encouraged to explore its voice culturally,” begins Blanchett. “I am the beneficiary of free health care and that meant that the little I earned… could go toward seeing shows, bands, and living inside my generation’s expression… I am the beneficiary of a foreign policy that put us on the world stage and put us on the front foot in our region. I am a product of an Australian that engages with the globe and engages with its history and its Indigenous peoples. I am a small part of Australia’s coming of age and so many of those initiatives were enacted when I was three” – the year when Whitlam was first elected.
After praising his legacy and its lasting impact where the betterment of the arts and women in Australia is concerned, Blanchett finally channelled both Whitlam and another PM Robert Menzies to conclude, “I was but three when he passed by, but I shall be grateful until the day I die.”