Tributes for Whitlam
Within hours of Gough Whitlam’s death on 21 October tributes were reverentially laid on the front steps of historic Old Parliament House.
Bouquets of tightly packed, perfectly matched roses, sprays of funereal iris, native and exotic flowers beribboned and wrapped - homages to the florist’s art, swathes of callistemons and ungainly bracken, neatly boxed starry-faced daisies, cellophane wrapped carnations and pinks from supermarkets and petrol stations. Poignant bouquets lovingly snipped from Australian backyards and assembled on kitchen benches. Lilac, roses, lavender. Stems wrapped in moistened kitchen towel, secured with a rubber band, aluminium foil sleeve. Heartfelt.
Carefully composed messages on greeting cards, gift tags, postcards, signs. Aboriginal flags. Florist’s cards, Post-it notes, envelopes. A message hastily written on lined paper ripped from a spiral notebook. Hotel stationery. A torn scrap of brown paper. A charming drawing and message on the back of a handy Officeworks docket. The unsteady script of advanced years. A rounded childish hand. A barely legible scrawl. All thanking him for Medicare, free university education, women’s rights, land rights, multiculturalism. Thanking him for his idealism, determination, leadership, vision and wit.
Vale Gough Whitlam 1916 – 2014.