The Reward of Public Life is Public Progress
13 November 2013
On the evening of 13 November Noel Pearson took the stage at the Riverside Theatres Parramatta to deliver the 2013 Gough Whitlam Oration. Those present were to witness an extraordinary address.
Mr Pearson's oration, The Reward of Public Life is Public Progress, opens with an exposition of life in Queensland for Indigenous Australians under Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen in laying out the impact of the Whitlam program: 'The Whitlam legislation meant freedom'. He proceeds to traverse a rich and complex landscape of law, culture, structural reform and personal agency culminating in an argument for Constitutional reform fulfilling the promise of Indigenous recognition and equality before the law. The case is argued with a lawyer's eye for detail and a poet's gift for language.
"Let me say finally to Mr Tony Whitlam who is here this evening on behalf of the Whitlam family: please pass on to the old man my warmest affection – nay, love – and convey to him, notwithstanding that my words here tonight could not do his public service proper justice, some sense of my belief that he is Australia's greatest white elder and friend without peer of Indigenous Australians."
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