Gough Whitlam being remembered in Sydney

A memorial service for former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam will get underway on Wednesday morning at Sydney Town Hall.

Some high profile mourners have already taken their seats including former Labor Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating and their wives.  Kevin Rudd is there and Julia Gillard arrived, with minutes to spare, to a round of applause and standing ovation.

Current Prime Minister Tony Abbott was booed and jeered as he walked inside.


Mr Whitlam died a fortnight ago, aged 98.

About 1,700 people are seated inside the grand room, with some mourners being refused entry today.

It’s estimated that of the 6,000 who registered their interest, only 2,000 will be allowed inside.

The rest are outside, watching the service on big screens.

Australia’s 21st Prime Minister was elected in 1972 before being controversially dismissed by the Governor General in 1975.

A short time ago Mr Whitlam’s former media advisor, Kerry O’Brien, opened the service with a tribute saying “Gough chose this venue, the people’s hall, of course he did”.

“But it wasn’t his first choice, his first choice was to have a funeral pyre in the Senate, he rather liked the idea of taking the Upper House with him, at least part of the way.”

Actress Cate Blanchett will also address mourners, touching on what Mr Whitlam did for the Arts during his short reign.