Bob Hawke was a truly great Labor Hero and one of Australia’s greatest leaders.
An inspirational union leader and visionary prior to entering Parliament.
I was fortunate to serve in Hawke Governments over the period 1987 until 1991 when he lost the Prime Ministership. Elected four times as Prime Minister in 1983, 1984, 1987 and 1990, with Paul Keating as his Treasurer changed our nation forever and for the better.
His Government was responsible for the establishment of Medicare, for opening up our economy, for the Prices and Income Accord. He was responsible for reforming Australia’s education, training and university system. For asserting Australia’s interests internationally.
On the environment he steadfastly protected and expanded Kakadu to include Coronation Hill, he stopped the Tasmanian Gordon-below-Franklin dam project.
And was responsible for so much more.
Most importantly he had a great desire to address the concerns and needs of First Australians, setting up ATSIC, advocating for a Treaty as a direct result of a meeting with Land Council leaders at Barunga in 1988. His final act as Prime Minister was to hang the Barunga Statement in Parliament, traditional paintings representing the diversity of Aboriginal people across the Territory with accompanying text calling for the recognition of Aboriginal Rights.
Bob had a great belief in the need to do more, but sadly his quest for national Aboriginal Land rights was doomed to failure after it was undermined by the Western Australian Government.
Significantly he had an understanding and belief in the Territory.
Bob was a great leader, who had his failings but was unquestionably brilliant at leading a government and making the change that would set Australia up for the future. Our record period of economic growth is directly the result of the changes made by Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.
It was a great privilege and honour to serve in Hawke Governments, to have Bob as a mentor and mate.
We can all be thankful and grateful for the legacy he has left us.