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Bob Hawke: Vale One of the Greats of Australia

Vale Bob Hawke.

One of the titans of Australian political history, Bob Hawke, has died.

The former Prime Minister was 89.

As Australian’s go to the polls in the May 18 election, one of the most famous names in our history will be mourned.

Robert James Lee Hawke was the 23rd Prime Minister of Australia.

Hawke was one of the most influential leaders in Australian history and helped set up Australia’s economy for a prosperous run from the 1990 to today.

Many of his policy achievements include the deregulation of Australia’s economy, privatisation and competition policy, opening up foreign investment and increasing trade opportunities for Australian exporters. On the International front Hawke helped end Apartheid in South Africa; Helped the west see the collapse of the Soviet Union; Developed our relationship with China, Japan, the US and many other important Australian trading relationships; helped secure and international agreement to protect Antarctica from resource exploitation; committed Australian forces to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait in the Gulf War.

In the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, Hawke, moved to tears by the slaughter, granted asylum to all Chinese students seeking refuge overseas.

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He worked closely with Unions, privacy enterprise and NFPs to reform Australia’s economy and was able to reach across party lines and act in a bipartisan fashion to achieve great things for all Australians.

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Although born in South Australia, he was educated in Perth, at Perth Modern School at later the University of Western Australia.

The Hawke family moved to Western Australia when Bob was a child.

Hawke was educated at Perth Modern School and the University of Western Australia, graduating in 1952 with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws. He was also president of the university’s guild during the same year.

While still a student at UWA, he established the first International Club, affiliated with the Student Guild. “I believed it was important to bring together the many international students into the wider UWA community,” he said.

He went on to study at Oxford University, as a Rhodes Scholar and graduated in 1956, before joining the trade union movement.

There he also became well known for his incredible beer drinking skills.

At one stage Hawke held the world record for the fastest drinking of a yard of beer.

Bob Hawke at the SCG

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Bob Hawke leant his name to Hawke’s Larger in 2017.

Bob’s wife, Blanche D’Alpuget, released a statement on Friday describing her husband as “the greatest Australian of the post-war era.”

“Bob Hawke and Paul Keating and their governments modernised the Australian economy, paving the way for an unprecedented period of recession-free economic growth and job creation,” her statement said.

Political Career:

In 1980, Hawke entered Parliament and just in 1983 after just three years, became Prime Minister defeating Malcolm Fraser.

When Australia won the America’s Cup for the first time that year, Hawke said on TV in the early hours, “any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum.”

Hawke was well known internationally, he was one of Australia’s longest serving PMs through the 1980s and helped Australia’s rise on the global stage, into a middle power by the 1990s.

Hawke eventually lost the leadership of the Labor party to Treasurer Paul Keating in 1991 after 8-years in the top job.

Bill Shorten:

“Australians everywhere remember and honour a man who gave so much to the country and people he cared for so deeply. May he rest in peace.”

Post updates

Scott Morrison:

“Bob Hawke was a great Australian who led and served our country with passion, courage, and an intellectual horsepower that made our country stronger. 

He was true to his beliefs in the Labor tradition and defined the politics of his generation and beyond.”

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Ryan Northover
Ryan Northover
Ryan is contributing editor of So Perth and co-founder of So Media Group.