Vale Bob Hawke

I’m hardly better at writing eulogies than Tony Abbott, and my attention is, in any case, directed elsewhere right now. But it seems to me that it might be a good idea to have a separate thread where the great man and his legacy can be conducted separately from the hurly-burly of the final day of a federal election campaign. So here is a post for those wishing to do just that.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

26 comments on “Vale Bob Hawke”

  1. Vale Bob Hawke. My condolences to family, friends and colleagues.

    It is of no doubt that Australia is overwhelmingly the better for your Prime Ministership. A true Labor hero and icon.

    But couldn’t you wait until Sunday?

  2. The Unity of Labor is the hope of the world. Vale RJL Hawke. You truly made modern Australia and inspired me to be a better person.

  3. Bob Hawke did brilliantly at the beginning. Keating came along at the right time to depose him and preserve his legacy and reputation. And that is the truth of it.
    As politicians the era of Hawke, Keating, Howard produced real quality – in comparison to the last 10 years dross.

  4. The outpouring of grief at RJH’s death, and also the celebration of his life and legacy is unprecedented, as far as I can remember.

    This from ABC science:

    Bob Hawke was a champion of environmental issues: Giving the Commonwealth power over World Heritage sites, saving Tasmania's Franklin River from damming, banning uranium mining at Jabiluka, Arnhem Land and protecting Antarctica from mining are just a few examples. Vale Bob.— ABC Science (@ABCscience) May 16, 2019

  5. Friend of the workers.
    I will miss you Comrade and treasure the years when you brought the country together and delivered consensus against the odds.
    A damned impertinence erstwhile friend of mine spouted that your death was a master stroke which would now assure the delivery of the election to Labor.
    Vale Bob Hawke.

  6. The monument to Bob Hawke’s life and achievement is in everyones’ wallet. It’s called your Medicare Card.

  7. The most remarkable thing about Bob Hawke, in my mind, was how ready he was to govern after the 1983 election. He was instantly “Prime Ministerial”. He also knew, instinctively, how to run an effective and efficient cabinet process, right from the outset. This allowed him to get the best from his very strong Ministerial team. He may have been the star of the show, but he was no one man band. A remarkable man. He’s been part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I will miss him.

  8. Vale Bob Hawke, successful PM and one of Australia’s greatest leaders. He had talent, and some egotism, but used his talent in the service of the nation. He made Australia fairer, wealthier, more diverse and more outward looking. More than any one person, he shifted a conservative, inward looking Australia to become a modern country that engaged with the world.

    Since some are already trying to rewrite his history, it is worth stating he was from the Labor right, but nothing like the Liberal party in ideology, as it was then or now. He raised taxes when he had to. He funded social services and intervened in markets. He was to the right of his predecessors but still well to the left of his successors and opponents. He made the dole and pensions (newstart) liveable and reformed welfare.

    His government was capable and not corrupt. One minister lost his job over failing to pay customs on a toy bear. They did not use parliamentary aircraft to attend fundraisers, or hold conflicting share ownerships while making ministerial decisions. Nor did he waste billions appeasing Rupert Murdoch or the mining industry.

    Hawke’s death reminds us what a waste the last political decade has been.

  9. The widespread outpouring of emotion for Bob Hawke reminded me of a similar occurrence when John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. I was only 16 then but remember how Australians reacted to the news. JFK had flaws but he seemed to symbolise a vision for a better world, just as RJLH did.

  10. I am a little person with a little mind and do not warm to messianic leaders notwithstanding their wider capacities than my own. I left the ALP after the top-down imposition of the illogical and immoral 3 mines policy (uranium) by Hawke on to his cabinet, caucus and then the whole party.

    That said, it would be wrong not to recognise the immense discipline, talent and hard work that Hawke brought to the task of PM. It would be wrong not to concede he reined in his ego to lead a largely collegiate cabinet where the PM was the first among equals. It would be wrong not to concede he harnessed his charisma to achieve real change for the better in the Australian landscape, economic and geographic.

    Most importantly Hawke genuinely loved the human species. His gregarious nature was the most obvious but least important manifestation of that love. His stand against apartheid and his political response to the Tianamen Square massacre were principled demonstrations of that same love. It stands in stark contrast to the Pentecostal “love” that shrivels at the door of the LGBTQI community and at so many other doors.

  11. To those who wished Bob had waited till Sunday, I have spoken to three fairly politically aware people who think that his death might secure a win for the ALP tomorrow. What do you think? And please don’t accuse me of trying to take advantage of this great loss. I’m just as sad as everyone else, and the comments were certainly not made with any hint of glee.

  12. I credit Bob with my political awakening. It would have been around 1989 and I would’ve been around 16. I heard Bob talking in support of Nelson Mandela (then still in prison) in parliament on the radio and all the Liberals jeering him for it.
    That opened my eyes. It was at that moment that I knew I was of the left.
    Although Bob was no longer PM by the time I got to vote in my first Federal election in 1993 he has had an everlasting impact on my political views.
    Vale Bob!

  13. There has not been another leader since who had the ability to engage with the electorate like RJ Hawke.

    A great Prime Minister who changed our society for the good. His legacy will be forever.

    Vale Robert James Lee Hawke

  14. As many have said a leader from a time and place that significantly changed Australia for the better. The first PM I had a choice on as a voter.

    The reminders of his integrity and compassion for fellow humans and our natural bounty seems to bring out the contrast more than ever about what a small minded, mercenary political culture Australia has developed over the recent decades since then.

    It is almost shocking to compare our current debates with a time when recognising the value of our natural world and the dignity of people from all places and cultures was the stuff of consideration in so-called mainstream politics. Although many of the issues for people and nature are still the same or even more demanding of attention, many ‘debates’ now seem a world away and far less concerned with solutions than winning some imaginary political game.

    Hard to imagine any political leader taking the positions he did and defending them honestly in the public forum these days. No focus group sloganeering or capitulation to hate mongering or destruction of our precious natural world for short term gain there.

    If FB was around then and the smearing media moments and judgements from todays world were too. He might never have even got off the starting line. A reminder perhaps that we need some actual real flawed humans as leaders as well, no-one is perfect but some give far more than they ever take despite any flaws, which we all have.

    His passing is sure to cause reflection on his life and recent history of our country for many Australians. Condolences for the loss to those who knew him as family and friend

    Vale Bob Hawke

  15. Hawke. A hero to a generation and beyond. A leader for his time, both as ACTU President and PM.
    For how many politicians can we genuinely say we shed tears on hearing of their passing? Vale Hawkey. We will never again see your like.

  16. Just received this email from The Hawke Centre at the University of South Australia:


    1929- 2019

    The University of South Australia community was deeply saddened to hear about the loss of our friend and former Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke. He was, first and foremost, a great Australian who was loved and who will be missed by countless numbers of people. His formidable intellect drove him to the highest reaches of Australian public life, but he never lost that genuine connection with, and understanding of, every day Australians and the joys and challenges in their lives.

    While we grieve for his loss, we also give thanks for the life Bob lived and for how dramatically he helped shape this nation.

    As a trade union leader, a member of Parliament and as the longest serving Labor Prime Minister this country has had, Bob made an indelible mark on this nation, not only as a nation builder developing the economy so that Australia could become a more powerful global player, but, at the same time, advancing the conditions of working people. so that they too would share the benefits.

    He was both global and local and had an immense impact in whatever sphere he operated. On a local level he offered unstinting support for the University of South Australia and agreed to the foundation of our Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre while we were still a fledgling institution. He was at all times a great support to the University’s leadership, from Professor Denise Bradley, to Professor Peter Hoj and then to me. We are all grateful that he gave so much of himself.

    We share our grief with our Hawke Centre friends, and hope that you will continue your support of the Centre that so proudly bears his name.

    A memorial book will be available for people to sign in the Hawke Centre’s Kerry Packer Civic Gallery, UniSA City West Campus from Monday May 20th.

    Advancing Australia Fair – Bob Hawke and his Government 1983 – 1991 will also be exhibited in the gallery. This exhibition tracks the paradigm shift in Australian values, policies and international relations pursued by Bob Hawke and his government. From the creation of Medicare to the floating of the dollar and the opening of the economy, their achievements helped build a stronger, fairer and more prosperous Australia.

    The entire nation will miss him greatly and I extend to you, his family and friends, our deepest sympathy and condolences during this very sad time.

    The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre will continue to honour Bob’s legacy through its program of free events and exhibitions – which are devoted to generating ideas and solutions to achieve cohesive, sustainable societies.

    Professor David G. Lloyd
    Vice-Chancellor and President
    University of South Australia

    Obviously I can’t link to it because email but there’s also a similar eulogy on the front page of the Hawke Centre’s website:

  17. Important to remember that Hawke was a son of the manse. They have made a huge contribution to Australian society an progressive causes. Dying out now I’m afraid

  18. Vale Bob Hawke

    You made Australia a better place for me to live in.

    Hoping that Bill Shorten & his team are successful tomorrow to lead us into a better future

  19. This being a psephological blog, it should be recorded also that it was under the Hawke government that the big electoral reforms of 1983 took effect: the first major package since the Electoral Act was passed in 1918.

    Of all the reforms, perhaps the most important were those relating to redistributions, which gave Australia a process now widely seen as the best in the world, and which has been wildly successful in changing the drawing of boundaries from a highly contested activity to one which is now so routine and uncontroversial that it hardly ever makes the news. You really have to look at the total mess which is redistricting in the USA to appreciate the magnitude of the Hawke government’s achievement.

  20. Thanks William for this.

    A Abbott issued a media release yesterday on R Hawke’s death and it was the ultimate in bad taste, and he sounded like a very bitter man. Uncalled for.

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