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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 23 October 2014) . . Page.. 3527 ..

Thursday, 23 October 2014

MADAM SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne) took the chair at 10 am.

MADAM SPEAKER: Members, I ask you to stand in silence and pray or reflect on our responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory. Also, members, could I ask you to pray and reflect upon the situation of our colleagues in the Canadian parliament, their staff and the parliamentary staff.

Mr Gough Whitlam AC QC

Motion of condolence

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Health, Minister for Higher Education and Minister for Regional Development): I move:

That this Assembly expresses its profound sorrow at the death of the former Prime Minister, the Honourable Edward Gough Whitlam AC QC, a great reformer and an inspiring leader, who leaves a remarkable legacy, and tenders its sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues at their loss.

The entire Australian nation has been moved this week by the news of Gough Whitlam’s passing. It has brought grief from Gough’s home in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, to Indigenous Australians in communities around the country, and to Canberra—as our city and the backdrop to much of Gough’s remarkable life.

In the Australian Labor Party we are mourning the loss of a Labor hero. It has been shown that in death, as in life, this visionary leader has the power to emote and to inspire.

The past few days have seen an abundance of eulogies by those who knew Gough well—their admiration impossible to convey in words alone. These accounts have come from Gough’s political contemporaries, both friend and foe, from present-day leaders, the media fraternity, and Gough’s closest friends and family. Some of the most enlightening and moving comments have come from those whose politics were not those of Gough, which itself shows the reach of his grand stature and personality.

It seems that nobody who came into contact with Gough walked away unaffected. There were no neutral feelings about this man, but even those with whom he fought the fiercest battles have praised his contribution to Australia this week. All sides have praised his courage, his vision, his reforming instincts, both for the Labor Party and for the country, and his parliamentary style. In each of these qualities Gough had very few peers.

Putting these fine qualities aside, I believe what sets Gough apart from other leaders of modern Australian history is shown in the outpouring of emotion from everyday Australians. This week thousands of Australians have expressed their thanks for the opportunities given to them and their families by Gough Whitlam’s program of reforms: those who could access health care without fear of financial disaster, thanks to the first national health insurance scheme; those who made it to university on merit

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