Cate Blanchett Made It SUPER Uncomfortable For Tony Abbott At Gough Whitlam’s Memorial Service

"I am the beneficiary of free tertiary education. I am the beneficiary of good, free healthcare."

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Cate Blanchett was invited to speak at Gough Whitlam’s memorial service at Sydney Town Hall earlier today. If the thinking was that she’d be a harmless, crowd-pleasing celebrity guest, old m8 Cate didn’t get the memo; she came out swinging but good. Right off the bat, she highlighted free education and healthcare as two of the things she wouldn’t have succeeded without, which most of the crowd loved and made for some pretty fantastic shots of various government ministers looking deeply unimpressed.

Here are some highlights from her intro:

“When I heard that Gough Whitlam had died, I was filled with an inordinate sadness, a great sorrow.

“The loss I felt came down to something very deep and very simple: I am the beneficiary of free tertiary education.

“When I went to university, I could explore different courses and engage with the student union in extra-curricular activities. It was through that that I discovered acting.

“I am the beneficiary of good, free healthcare 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 am the product of an Australia that engages with the globe, and engages honestly 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.

Tony Abbott’s whole row just kind of sat awkwardly during that bit while everyone else clapped. It was great.


Here’s how George Brandis looked during that bit about little healthcare bit, incidentally. He’s next to Bill Shorten, for some bizarre reason:



Here are some other highlights from Blanchett’s speech, which was pretty killer all round:


“Speaking of exhausting, I am a working mother of three, and when I took on the role in Little Fish [in 2004] I had just my second child. no one batted an eyelid. No one passed judgment and no one deemed me incapable because the culture around women, and the right of women to work as equals in Australia had also been addressed significantly by Gough Whitlam.

“Before 1973, only widows were entitled to pensions, and thus the new benefit created choice for single mothers in how they raised their children, and began combating some of the stigmas surrounding single motherhood itself.

“He established the Family Court, a cornerstone reform, and in the Family Law Act of 1975, he made the space for fault-free divorce, which allowed women to exit from abusive relationships and re-engage with society with dignity and with equality.

“But there is so much to say, even from my own, small, tiny, irrelevant experience, that what I would actually love to do at this memorial is pretend to be Gough Whitlam for a minute. Don’t worry, I’m not going to imitate him. No-one could. 

“He said of his government: ‘In any civilised community the arts and associated amenities must occupy a central place. Their enjoyment should not be seen as remote from everyday life. Of all the objectives of my government, none had a higher priority than the encouragement of the arts; the preservation and enrichment of our cultural and intellectual heritage. Indeed, I would argue that all other objectives of a Labor government — social reform, justice and equity in the provision of welfare services and educational opportunities — have as their goal the creation of a society in which the arts and the appreciation of spiritual and intellectual values can flourish.

“‘Our other objectives are all means to an end. The enjoyment of the arts is an end in itself.’

“I was but three when he passed by, but I shall be grateful ’til the day I die.”

You can watch the speech in full here, courtesy of the ABC:

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Feature image via ABC News/YouTube.