A political powerhouse: Bob Hawke's legacy

A political powerhouse: Bob Hawke's legacy
Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke AC has died aged 89.
The most electorally successful Labor leader in Australian history, Robert James Lee Hawke held office as the 23rd Prime Minister of Australia from 1983-1991, leading the Labor Party to four consecutive electoral victories.
Among his major achievements in office were the creation of Medicare, the formation of APEC, and the initiation of national super.
Bob Hawke, the 23rd Prime Minister of Australia, has died aged 89. (AAP) (AAP)
Mr Hawke was born in Bordertown, South Australia, on December 9, 1929.
The son of Arthur Hawke, a Congregationalist Minister, and Edith Emily Hawke, a school teacher, he had an early exposure to politics, with his uncle Albert serving as the Premier of Western Australia from 1953-59, and becoming a friend of then-Prime Minister John Curtin.
Mr Hawke joined the Labor Party at the age of 18, following a turbulent childhood that included a motorbike accident and the death of his older brother from meningitis, at age 17.
He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, where, along with his achievements in education, he set a world record for drinking a yard glass (1.4 litres) of beer in 11 seconds.
Mr Hawke was the most successful Labor leader, taking the party to four straight federal election wins. (AAP) (9news)
Mr Hawke himself would later state that the record achievement may have helped with his political success among Australia's beer-drinking voters.
In later life, he often replicated similar feats, downing full schooners when on camera at the cricket as recently as the 2017-18 Test season.
Mr Hawke was married twice in his life - first, to Hazel (nee Masterson) in 1956. They had four children together before divorcing in 1995. Hazel Hawke died in 2013.
He subsequently married Ms d'Alpuget, an accomplished writer, that same year, following a long and sporadic affair between the two, who had known each other since the 1970s.
In Australia, he joined the Australian Council of Trade Unions, playing a significant role in forbidding South African sporting teams to tour Australia while apartheid was active in the country.
Hawke admitted to alcoholism in the 1970s, but beer remained part of his iconography. (undefined)
Mr Hawke's popularity rose and he was elected as Federal President of the Labor Party in 1973, two years before the dismissal of the Whitlam government.
He considered running for Parliament at the ensuing election, but ultimately decided against it - a decision he said he later regretted.
In 1979, Mr Hawke suffered a physical collapse and confessed to his alcoholism in a televised interview.
Bob Hawke was first elected Prime Minister in 1983. (AAP) (AAP)
After a failed attempt in the 1963 Federal election, Hawke ultimately entered Parliament as the MP for Wills in the 1980 election.
He entered Labor leader Bill Hayden's shadow cabinet, eventually being named as leader himself in 1983 after Mr Hayden resigned.
At the election in March that year, after just a month at the head of Labor, Mr Hawke ousted Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser in a landslide election victory.
Bob Hawke with his wife, writer Blanche D'Alpuget. (undefined)
Mr Hawke's government is widely regarded as Labor's most successful, not just for its longevity but for the extent of its reforms.
Mr Hawke portrayed himself as a man of the people, famously declaring when Australia won the America's Cup yacht race in 1983 that "any boss who sacks a worker for not turning up today is a bum".
However, the Prime Minister's working relationship with his Treasurer Paul Keating soured in the lead-up to the 1990 election, with the 1980s recession causing the government trouble in the polls.
Bob Hawke with his first wife, Hazel. They were married from 1956-1995 (AAP) (AAP)
The pair entered into a secret pact, the Kirribilli Agreement, which stipulated that Mr Hawke would hand over the leadership to Mr Keating shortly after the 1990 election, which Labor proceeded to win.
Ultimately, Mr Keating challenged Mr Hawke for the leadership in December 1991, winning a narrow victory in the spill.
The two men subsequently fell out, with a rapprochement in later years soured again by the publication of the book ‘Hawke: The Prime Minister’ by the eponymous subject's second wife, Blanche d'Alpuget.
Nonetheless, Mr Hawke remained active on Labor's behalf after Keating lost to John Howard in 1996, lending support to more recent Labor leaders including Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.
His wife, Ms d'Alpuget, announced his death tonight.
"Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian – many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era," she said in a statement.
"He died peacefully at home at the age of 89 years."I and Bob’s children, Sue, Stephen, Rosslyn and stepson, Louis, and his grandchildren, will hold a private funeral."
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