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States fight it out for seat named in honour of Bob Hawke

“He went to school in WA, represented a Melbourne electorate and retired to Sydney,” she said.

“But while everyone wants to claim Bob, he was from South Australia and that’s where he should be recognised with a seat in his name.”

State ALP branches have until October to make their cases to the Australian Electoral Commission on the next redistribution, which will add a new seat in Victoria because of its rapidly growing population, and remove seats in the Northern Territory and WA.

The AEC’s naming guidelines say whenever there is a new seat, the names of former prime ministers should be considered, traditionally after they have died.

The Victorian seat of Fraser, established in Melbourne’s inner north-west last year, was named after former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser four years after his death.

Former Victorian premier Steve Bracks, who has been appointed a co-administrator of Labor’s state branch in the wake of the branch-stacking scandal, said Victorian Labor was still drafting its submission to the AEC on the redistribution.

“I do, however, note that it’s been previous practice to name new seats after former prime ministers in the state in which they were a MP after they have passed away,” Mr Bracks said.

“It would, therefore, be entirely appropriate to name any new federal seat in Victoria after former PM Bob Hawke.”

The member for Hawke’s former seat, Peter Khalil, said he would like to see Wills renamed after Hawke but he did not want to get in the way of his state’s campaign to name the new seat after him.

“If, for whatever reason, in their infinite wisdom the AEC doesn’t name the new Victorian seat after Hawke, I will run a campaign for Wills to be renamed,” Mr Khalil said.

Wills is named after the explorer William John Wills, of the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition. The seat of Burke, named after his expedition partner Robert O’Hara Burke, was abolished in 2004 to make way for a new seat named after former prime minister John Gorton.

WA MP Patrick Gorman, a former ALP state secretary, said Mr Hawke spent his formative years in his state and it was where his uncle Bert Hawke served as premier.

“It would be a nice little nod to the broader Hawke family,” Mr Gorman said.

“The Bob Hawke that became a Rhodes scholar and went to the ACTU – all of those things happened in WA.”

But former NSW Labor senator Sam Dastyari argued NSW should get the naming rights,
saying Mr Hawke “drank more beers here than anywhere else in the country and that’s saying something”.

Mr Hawke retired to Sydney after leaving parliament in 1991 where he lived until his death two days before last year’s election.

“There will never be another Bob Hawke. There should have been a seat named after him even when he was alive, let alone after he has passed away,” Mr Dastyari said.

SA Labor senator Don Farrell said Mr Hawke “always felt South Australian”, adding his parents continued to live in the state and it was where he set up his foundation, the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre.

Senator Farrell suggested the rural seat of Grey “should cease to be colourless and should be renamed after Hawke”.

Mr Hawke is the only prime minister born in SA, which is the only state not to have a federal electorate named after a former prime minister. Julia Gillard, who was born in Wales, but raised in Adelaide also represented a Melbourne electorate.

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