I prefer to deal directly with the Australian
people and it’s been a successful relationship. Thanks for all your support.
Oh, he is a nice man, I mean, he really is. G’day, 1983 went much as I planned it: I dominated. Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum. On your marks, get set. How much of that description that I gave there,
which is from the National Times, is true, “Swears like a trooper?”
Oh yeah. This one I’m not sure about, “Performs like
a Playboy”? I have my moments. He was a golden character in many ways. He was a one-off, he was an original but he always
had a genuine belief in the goodness of the Australian people and a genuine determination
to make things better for them. I’ll buy you a drink, Gazza!
Hooray for Bob Hawke! The Hawke leadership showed that if you have
got a leader seen as being above class, above party, a consensus leader, the Labor Party
can be a majority party. Familiar scenes as excited school children
milled around the prime minister. Born Robert James Lee Hawke but Australia
knew him as Bob. Bob Hawke’s life started off in a tiny speck
on the South Australian map called Bordertown – born to congregationalist minister Clem
and his school teacher wife, Elly. My mother had a fanatical commitment to education. Elly Hawke felt in her every bone that her son was destined for greatness, that he would
one day be prime minister. I think that mum seemed to have had some view
about it. When I was born, she said there was something special but that’s a bit embarrassing
to talk about. Mother Hawke was to be right on the money.
Her bright little spark became a talented pupil.
The Rhode Scholar took economics at Oxford. On his return, he went to the Australian Council
of Trade Unions where he fought for higher wages at the Conciliation and Arbitration
Commission. When you are president of the ACTU, not even
a seriously wrecked back can prevent the paper work piling up or stop the phone calls coming. Where he was extraordinarily popular. He sort of turned leading the ACTU into a
species of show business. There was an industrial dispute. There was
a moment of tension before he, as president of the ACTU, came in.
He’d arrive on the scene. He’d bring the two sides together. He’d produce what seemed a
well-crafted compromise. It was at this point that his pledge of temperance
to his mother, Elly went thoroughly out the window. Bob Hawke, the ACTU president, was a dedicated drinker. He probably used alcohol more than any public figure, any leader, in our history.
I tend, I think occasionally, to take too much refuge in having a drink. He was drunk a lot of the time. He obviously used alcohol as a way of breaking down barriers,
of gaining quick intimacy, steering people towards some emotion-ladened compromise. Mr Hawke, in a recent newspaper article, you said that you believed that you had the makings
of a prime minister. He gave up the grog and in 1980, became a
member for the safe Victorian federal seat of Wills.
I just said to myself, “If you’re going to become Prime Minister of this country, you
can’t afford ever to be in a position where you can make a fool of yourself or of your
country,” and I never had a drop for the whole period I was in Parliament. The prime ministerial ambitions took three years to be realised.
Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser was on the nose but there were questions about
Labor opposition leader, Bill Hayden’s ability to wrest government from him.
The hugely popular Hawke was the obvious alternative. The deal was done in January 1983 in Brisbane. Even as the party’s parliamentary executive arrive for today’s meeting here in Brisbane,
Mr Hayden’s fate had been sealed. He has been approached after private meetings
overnight and reluctantly advised to stand aside.
I believe that a drover’s dog can lead the Labor Party to victory, the way the country
is and the way the opinion polls are showing up for the Labor Party.
Bill Hayden has done a remarkably courageous thing.
Malcolm Fraser, who was very nervous of the possibility of facing Hawke instead of Hayden,
decided to go to Yarralumla and call an election Thinking he had better call it quickly while
he has still got Hayden. However, as he was in the process of doing
that, we had already instated Bob. Australia’s most dramatic day in politics
since November 11, 1975. So it was the most, I think the greatest political
coincidence in Australian political history, the way that worked.
People were so excited and it was like that from then on. That campaign was remarkable. Mr Fraser, did you have any second thoughts this afternoon when you found out you were
likely to face Mr Hawke and not Mr Haydon? On the contrary, I had a little more relish.
It will be the first election in which two Labor leaders have been knocked off in one
go. That was not to be. Bob Hawke won in a landslide. We want Bob! We want Bob! Labor needs, to pull in the middle-class voters,
Labor needs a nimble footed leader who can straddle the divisions and get middle-class
people to record a vote for a trade union, working-class based party.
And Hawke was pre-eminently good at that. In partnership with his brash treasurer, Hawke
set about transforming the Australian economy through the historic wage accord between big
business and unions. Mr Hawke was elected on a promise of bringing
Australians together. Well, after just five weeks, there they are. The captains of industry,
the union bosses, the politicians. When the phone started ringing in dealing
rooms this morning, trading was frenetic. Floating the Australian dollar and tariff
cuts. The idea of the workers’ party, the trade
union-based party, a Labor or social democratic party, opening the economy up to market-based
reforms, that was the fusion that was special about Bob Hawke’s leadership and his partnership
with Keating. He wanted to be prime minister but he wanted
to be prime minister for a purpose and because he went there for a purpose, he was prepared
to take risks. Politicians these days are not big risk-takers.
He was a very big risk-taker. There were also huge social policy shifts,
like embracing environmentalism, going to the High Court to save the Franklin Dam. My government will honour the promises that we have made in respect to Tasmania. They were very heady years for environmentalism and Bob Hawke was the captain of the ship. Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister of Australia. In the foreign policy area, he gave a new
definition to Australian nationalism. He made us a major player on the global stage as we
globalised, as we took advantage of the opportunities that were there for us to compete internationally.
We became a different country. He was the master of the media opportunity,
embracing television like no other before him.
Well, they can get nicked. If I want to appear coatless talking to Jana Wendt, I will.
Our guest I’ve got is no stranger to us all, it is our prime minister, Mr Bob Hawke.
Welcome to the show. Thank you. Bob had the habits of an ordinary Australian bloke. He liked the races, he had liked a
drink. He makes us all look well dressed. Hawke-era defence minister Kim Beazley says the PM was always across his Cabinet submissions
but brought a common touch to his understanding of them.
I would say, “You know, it’s really good, it’s very interesting, I’ve read through the
submission. But you know, I was at the races the other day and Bill Smith came up to me
and he said this about your issue. Now Bill’s got a point.” He did, at times, have a famously fiery temper. I made that statement that I will not be making
a challenge and I adhere to that statement. Now if you want do your speculation, do it
without me. I have made my position clear. But you could kill it stone-dead here and
now… Oh come on. Now grab hold of yourself. I have
made it quite clear. I have said it three times. Now you are just being a bloody pest. Mr Hawke, could I ask you whether you feel a little embarrassed tonight at the blood
that’s on your hands? You are not improving, are you? I thought
you’d make a better start to the year than that. It is a ridiculous question. You know
it’s ridiculous. I have no blood on my hands.
You don’t cease to be a husband. You don’t cease to be a father. He wore his heart on his sleeve, most memorably when he discovered his daughter, Roslyn and
her partner had a heroin problem. Like any father, I love my daughter, I trust
her. That, I think, is what was so difficult for
Bob, to just not be able to, if you like, absorb that shock properly or do the grieving
about that shock. It was sitting there like a lump. With him through it all was his loyal wife and mother to their children, Hazel Hawke.
She had weathered being married to a man who was often a workaholic with a wandering eye
but Susan Ryan says that his reputation as a ladies’ man should not be confused with
sexism. Ryan was Australia’s first female minister,
appointed by Hawke, who at the ACTU, had championed equal pay for women. It was then a great relief, as a young woman, a feminist, with very clear feminist objectives
in all the work I did, to work with a man who was relaxed about women.
With Bob, he never worried about women because he knew he was better than anyone else and
that included all women. In a confidential agreement, Hawke had pledged
to step aside from the top job by 1990 in favour of his ambitious treasurer.
When that deadline passed, with Hawke showing no sign of bowing out, Keating launched a
challenge and eventually toppled the prime minister in 1991. The dumping of Hawke led to a bitter rift between Hawke and Keating which lasted years. The circumstances were upsetting but, looking back on it, one of the enormous pluses of
the end of my prime ministership was that it led to the situation where I married Blanche. After he left the top office, Bob Hawke ended his rocky marriage with Hazel Hawke, who sadly
later died after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
He resumed his relationship with his biographer and former lover, Blanche D’Alpuget. They
married in 1995. And that has been just an indescribable joy
in my life. The boy from Bordertown became a successful
businessman with a harbourside mansion to show for it.
He didn’t lose his sense of humour and, from time to time, enjoyed the odd cold beer. They’re going scull, scull, scull and the great man, Bobby Hawke, nailed it. Still Labor to his bootstraps in his 80s, he wowed the comrades at the ACTU national
conference in 2012. So here we go. He campaigned for his ALP successors. Help Bill Shorten and Labor stand up to protect
Medicare. This Medicare scare campaign raised the ire
of the Coalition but in it Bob Hawke helped almost tilt Malcolm Turnbull out of office. Right until the end, he’s packed a political punch. In whatever way you can, try and help those around you.
This is both the right and the good thing to do but also it’ll make your own life more
satisfying. I always smile when I think of him because
he was always, you know, twinkling and laughing. I think he was like a great burst of sunshine
on the Australian political scene and easy to like, easy to get on with but with such
a brain and such determination that he changed Australia for the better and we should all
really thank our lucky stars that he’s been part of our lives. (Singing)