Gumatj leader and Youthu Yindi Foundation chairman Galarrwuy Yunupingu says Bob Hawke’s efforts to “bridge the gap between black and white Australia were always sincere, and continued after the end of his prime ministership.”
It was Mr Yunupingu who presented Mr Hawke with the Barunga Statement at the Barunga festival in the Northern Territory in June 1988 where Mr Hawke promised a historic treaty with the Aboriginal people.
“We did not achieve all that was set out in the Barunga Statement but it remains in Parliament and we will continue to pursue its asiprations.
“We will remember Mr Hawke fondly, a smile on his face”.
Tony Wright has tonight written a piece on how Bob Hawke wanted to see Bill Shorten return Labor to government, but knew he mightn’t make it to election day.
“In the last days of last year, attending the Woodford Folk Festival that had become his regular December pilgrimage, he said he expected Labor to do well, but warned that his “terrible health” might mean he wouldn’t be around to see it.
“I’ve had my time,” he said, expressing the hope that he might “just stick around for a little while”.
He was right about time shortening.”
You can read Tony’s bpiece in full here.
Former Labor minister and party powerbroker Graham Richardson says that Bob Hawke’s significance lies well beyond his nine yers as prime minister and that he should be remembered for his role resolving some of the big industrial disputes that affected Australia.
“You can say occasionally someone is a great Australian, a phrase that’s thrown around too easily. But if there was, if there was anyone you could nominate as a great Australian, it would this guy,” he told senior writer Deborah Snow.
Mr Richardson said when working as an ALP organiser during the 1972 and 1974 elections he would go to the pub with Mr Hawke and a “massive crowd would gather.
“Word would spread and people would turn up just to be with him,” he says. “Charisma is not something you achieve, its not something you learn, its something you have. And I don’t think there was ever a time in his life that when he entered the room, he wasn’t the centre of attention.
Mr Richardson has also praised how Mr Hawke handled his cabinet.
“The good thing about him he was never afraid of other people having a better idea. And that mattered. There is not many in that category, but he was … cabinet was actually really used, as a cabinet should be.”
Labor leader Bill Shorten will convene an economic summit if elected, modelled on Mr Hawke’s consultation with business and workers that led Australia’s structural reforms in the 1980s.
Here are some of Bob Hawke’s key legacies.
- The industrial relations accord. Controversial changes to IR laws saw wages suppressed in exchange for greater social services and the beginning of enterprise bargaining.
- Cutting tariffs and subsidies making Australian industries more internationally competitive, while also ushering in the decline of some, particularly manufacturing.
- Outlawing gender discrimination in the workforce together with former Hawke minister and sex discrimination comissioner Susan Ryan. It had been legal up until 1984.
- Introducing Medicare, the next evolution of Medibank under Gough Whitlam and Australia’s first truly universal healthcare system.
Floating the Australian dollar, letting it loose on the market and removing its ties to the US dollar.
More and more MPs from all sides of parliament are sharing their tributes to Bob Hawke.
Labor’s Kristina Keneally says to think of him is “to smile”.
Labor’s Tony Burke will remember Bob Hawke the “music fan”.
Former Liberal treasurer Joe Hockey says Australia has lost a “bloody good guy today”.
Ex-Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce says “we were all proud of him as he was one of us”.
And former Greens leader Bob Brown.
In a moving interivew on the ABC’s 730 in February 2018 Blanche d’Alpuget talked about how her husband had no fear of death and how difficut it would be for her to go on without him.
Bob Hawke offered Chinese students living in Australia asylum in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre – he did so without consulting cabinet or the public service – watch his emotional address in 1989.
Here is the front page of tomorrow’s The Sydney Morning Herald
Damien Muprhy writes that Bob Hawke was Labor’s golden boy who transformed a nation. He was a beer-skolling union star who went on to become prime minister, modernise the economy and weep in public.