'There was no time in my life when there was no Bob Hawke'
A giant has fallen.
That’s the sentiment around the country as we stop to remember one of the dominant figures of Australia in the 20th century, a man who left an enormous mark on our society and made it a better place.
Bob Hawke is someone who came into our consciousness in the 1950s and 1960s as a leader of the Australian trade union movement, and then went on to lead the Labor Party.
He then made that difficult transition through to being Prime Minister.
He is one of three Labor prime ministers to lead them to victory from opposition - Gough Whitlam was one, Hawke was one, Kevin Rudd was the third, and of course this weekend, the Labor Party is hoping Bill Shorten will be the next one to do that.
Hawke had a deep and abiding connection to the Australian people, perhaps there was no leader that had a better connection.
This allowed him the room to move, to make massive changes to the way we lived our lives.
There was no time in my life when there was no Bob Hawke. Who will ever forget the way he came to power, when he took over from Bill Hayden and Bill Hayden famously said “a drover’s dog could lead the Labor Party to an election in 1983”. Well, he led them to four. The question is, might he have an effect on a fifth?
Hawke is someone who the Australian people still love, and when we had that loss of trust in Australian political leaders nowadays, no one for me exemplified better than someone who could connect with the people than Bob Hawke.
He was called the larrikin Prime Minister, but he was more than a larrikin: he was great thinker, he was a Rhodes Scholar, he was a sportsman, so he represented all those things which are great about Australia - not just being a larrikin or someone who could drink a yard glass, but someone who thought long and hard about what sort of nation this should be.
The first Hawke cabinet in 1983 was widely regarded as perhaps being one of the best we’ve ever had, and one of the reasons he was a great Prime Minister was he encouraged his ministers to be their best.
When thinking about Bob Hawke tonight, so many memories come flooding back.
One significant moment was again in 1983 with Australia II winning the America’s Cup, which was something we never thought would happen.
And what did Bob Hawke famously say, when he was covered in champagne at the celebration? That “any boss who sacks his worker for not turning up today is a bum”.
Vale Bob Hawke.
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