Anthony Albanese gives eulogy at Senator Linda White’s funeral

Anthony Albanese has paid tribute to his “loyal” friend Linda White, remembering her as the “most senior new backbencher” to have ever existed who dedicated her life to the Labor and trade union movements.

Senator White, who was elected to the upper house at the 2022 federal election, died on February 29 from cancer.

At a memorial in Melbourne on Thursday, her friend, fellow ACMI-board member and actor Rachel Griffiths, led the tributes in a room full of politicians including the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and former Victorian premier Daniel Andrews.

“Today we come together to celebrate, to feel our loss and to lament all that she had left to do,” Griffiths said.

Mr Albanese, who had known the senator for 30 years, said what would long outlast the current sadness was “our pride in all that she was, and all that she did”.

“We pay tribute today to a formidable supporter of working Australians, particularly a formidable support of women,” she said.

“Our government’s International Women’s Day announcement last week that superannuation will be paid on the government’s paid parental leave, is one that I think we can dedicate to Linda.”

Before entering federal politics, Senator White had worked as a solicitor and served as the assistant national secretary of the Australian Services Union.

She also spent 10 years as the vice president of the ACTU and sat on the Labor Party’s national executive.

Mr Albanese remembered her as a “servant” to the administration of the Australian Labor Party both federally and in Victoria “through the good times and the hard times”.

“As the longest serving woman on the national executive of the ALP, she was central to the affirmative action reforms … She was loyal and called it as she saw it, trusted and respected by all in what can be a pretty tough arena,” he said.

Mr Albanese said it was an “absolute tragedy that Linda was not destined to be in the Senate for long, but she made powerful use of the brief time she had”.

“She lived her life well. We celebrate that life today. She lived her life true to her values.”

Tim Ayres said his friend of more than 30 years through the labour and Labor movement had “meant so much to so many of us”.

“I thought we had so much more time,” Senator Ayres said.

“Farewell old friend. Rest in peace.”

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