89 Facts About Bob Hawke


In 1956, Bob Hawke joined the Australian Council of Trade Unions as a research officer.


In 1980, Bob Hawke stood down from his roles as ACTU and Labor Party president to announce his intention to enter parliamentary politics, and was elected to the Australian House of Representatives as a member of parliament for the division of Wills at the 1980 federal election.


Bob Hawke led Labor to victory three more times, with successful outcomes in 1984,1987 and 1990 elections, making him the most electorally successful prime minister in the history of the Labor Party.


Bob Hawke subsequently retired from parliament, pursuing both a business career and a number of charitable causes, until his death in 2019, aged 89.


Bob Hawke remains his party's longest-serving Prime Minister, and Australia's third-longest-serving prime minister behind Robert Menzies and John Howard.


Bob Hawke is the only prime minister to be born in South Australia and the only one raised and educated in Western Australia.


Bob Hawke is frequently ranked within the upper-tier of Australian prime ministers.

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Bob Hawke was born on 9 December 1929 in Border Town, South Australia, the second child of Arthur "Clem" Hawke, a Congregationalist minister, and his wife Edith Emily , a schoolteacher.


Ellie Bob Hawke subsequently developed an almost messianic belief in her son's destiny, and this contributed to Bob Hawke's supreme self-confidence throughout his career.


At the age of seventeen, the same age that his brother Neil had died, Bob Hawke had a serious crash while riding his Panther motorcycle that left him in a critical condition for several days.


Bob Hawke joined the Labor Party in 1947 at the age of eighteen.


Bob Hawke was educated at West Leederville State School, Perth Modern School and the University of Western Australia, graduating in 1952 with Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees.


Bob Hawke was president of the university's guild during the same year.


Bob Hawke soon found he was covering much the same ground as he had in his education at the University of Western Australia, and transferred to a Bachelor of Letters course.


Bob Hawke wrote his thesis on wage-fixing in Australia and successfully presented it in January 1956.


In 1956, Bob Hawke accepted a scholarship to undertake doctoral studies in the area of arbitration law in the law department at the Australian National University in Canberra.


Bob Hawke decided to abandon his doctoral studies and accept the offer, moving to Melbourne with his wife Hazel.


Not long after Bob Hawke began work at the ACTU, he became responsible for the presentation of its annual case for higher wages to the national wages tribunal, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.


Bob Hawke was first appointed as an ACTU advocate in 1959.


Bob Hawke went on to attain such success and prominence in his role as an ACTU advocate that, in 1969, he was encouraged to run for the position of ACTU President, despite the fact that he had never held elected office in a trade union.


Bob Hawke was elected ACTU President in 1969 on a modernising platform by the narrow margin of 399 to 350, with the support of the left of the union movement, including some associated with the Communist Party of Australia.


Bob Hawke later credited Ray Gietzelt, General Secretary of the FMWU, as the single most significant union figure in helping him achieve this outcome.


Bob Hawke remained committed to the ban on apartheid teams and later that year, the South African cricket team was successfully denied and no apartheid team was to ever come to Australia again.


In industrial matters, Bob Hawke continued to demonstrate a preference for, and considerable skill at, negotiation, and was generally liked and respected by employers as well as the unions he advocated for.


In June 1973, Bob Hawke was elected as the Federal President of the Labor Party.

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Two years later, when the Whitlam government was controversially dismissed by the Governor-General, Bob Hawke showed an initial keenness to enter Parliament at the ensuing election.


Harry Jenkins, the MP for Scullin, came under pressure to step down to allow Bob Hawke to stand in his place, but he strongly resisted this push.


Bob Hawke eventually decided not to attempt to enter Parliament at that time, a decision he soon regretted.


Bob Hawke further stated only refugees selected off-shore should be accepted.


Bob Hawke resigned as President of the Labor Party in August 1978.


Bob Hawke was helped through this period by the relationship that he had established with writer Blanche d'Alpuget, who, in 1982, published a biography of Hawke.


Bob Hawke's popularity with the public was, if anything, enhanced by this period of rehabilitation, and opinion polling suggested that he was a more popular public figure than either Labor Leader Bill Hayden or Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser.


The popular view was that Mr Bob Hawke engaged in protracted, boozy negotiations with Ol' Blue Eyes to reach a settlement.


Bob Hawke rejected several opportunities to enter Parliament throughout the 1970s, something he later wrote that he "regretted".


Bob Hawke eventually stood for election to the House of Representatives at the 1980 election for the safe Melbourne seat of Wills, winning it comfortably.


Immediately upon his election to Parliament, Bob Hawke was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet by Labor Leader Bill Hayden as Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations.


Bob Hawke decided to challenge Hayden in the spill, but Hayden defeated him by five votes; the margin of victory was too slim to dispel doubts that he could lead the Labor Party to victory at an election.


At the 1983 election, Bob Hawke led Labor to a landslide victory, achieving a 24-seat swing and ending seven years of Liberal Party rule.


The style of the Bob Hawke government were deliberately distinct from the Whitlam government, the most recent Labor government that preceded it.


Rather than immediately initiating multiple extensive reform programs as Whitlam had, Bob Hawke announced that Malcolm Fraser's pre-election concealment of the budget deficit meant that many of Labor's election commitments would have to be deferred.


Bob Hawke's enthusiasms were cigars, betting and most forms of sport; Keating preferred classical architecture, Mahler symphonies and collecting British Regency and French Empire antiques.


The Labor Caucus under Bob Hawke developed a more formalised system of parliamentary factions, which significantly altered the dynamics of caucus operations.


Individual accounts from ministers indicate that while Bob Hawke was not often the driving force behind individual reforms, outside of broader economic changes, he took on the role of providing political guidance on what was electorally feasible and how best to sell it to the public, tasks at which he proved highly successful.


The Bob Hawke government oversaw significant economic reforms, and is often cited by economic historians as being a "turning point" from a protectionist, agricultural model to a more globalised and services-oriented economy.


Shortly after its election in 1983, the Bob Hawke government took the opportunity to implement a comprehensive program of economic reform, in the process "transform economics and politics in Australia".

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Bob Hawke and Keating together led the process for overseeing the economic changes by launching a "National Economic Summit" one month after their election in 1983, which brought together business and industrial leaders together with politicians and trade union leaders; the three-day summit led to a unanimous adoption of a national economic strategy, generating sufficient political capital for widespread reform to follow.


In 1989, Bob Hawke oversaw the gradual re-introduction of some tuition fees for university study, creating set up the Higher Education Contributions Scheme.


The Bob Hawke government drew attention for a series of notable environmental decisions, particularly in its second and third terms.


In 1983, Bob Hawke personally vetoed the construction of the Franklin Dam in Tasmania, responding to a groundswell of protest around the issue.


Bob Hawke secured the nomination of the Wet Tropics of Queensland as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, preventing the forests there from being logged.


Bob Hawke later claimed that the Antarctic drilling ban was his "proudest achievement".


In 1986, the Bob Hawke government passed a bill to de-register the Builders Labourers Federation federally due to the union not following the Accord agreements.


The seventh and final revisiting would ultimately lead to the establishment of the enterprise bargaining system, although this would be finalised shortly after Bob Hawke left office in 1991.


Arguably the most significant foreign policy achievement of the Government took place in 1989, after Bob Hawke proposed a south-east Asian region-wide forum for leaders and economic ministers to discuss issues of common concern.


Elsewhere in Asia, the Bob Hawke government played a significant role in the build-up to the United Nations peace process for Cambodia, culminating in the Transitional Authority; Bob Hawke's Foreign Minister Gareth Evans was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiations.


Bob Hawke took a major public stand after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre; despite having spent years trying to get closer relations with China, Bob Hawke gave a tearful address on national television describing the massacre in graphic detail, and unilaterally offered asylum to over 42,000 Chinese students who were living in Australia at the time, many of whom had publicly supported the Tiananmen protesters.


Bob Hawke did so without even consulting his Cabinet, stating later that he felt he simply had to act.


The Bob Hawke government pursued a close relationship with the United States, assisted by Bob Hawke's close friendship with US Secretary of State George Shultz; this led to a degree of controversy when the Government supported the US's plans to test ballistic missiles off the coast of Tasmania in 1985, as well as seeking to overturn Australia's long-standing ban on uranium exports.


Bob Hawke benefited greatly from the disarray into which the Liberal Party fell after the resignation of Fraser following the 1983 election.


Bob Hawke and Keating were able to use the concealment of the size of the budget deficit by Fraser before the 1983 election to great effect, damaging the Liberal Party's economic credibility as a result.


Bob Hawke was subject to challenges from some former colleagues in the trade union movement over his "confrontationalist style" in siding with the airline companies in the 1989 Australian pilots' strike.


Nevertheless, Bob Hawke was able to comfortably maintain a lead as preferred prime minister in the vast majority of opinion polls carried out throughout his time in office.


Bob Hawke was able to lead the nation in the bicentennial celebrations of 1988, culminating with him welcoming Queen Elizabeth II to open the newly constructed Parliament House.


Bob Hawke rejected this suggestion but reached a secret agreement with Keating, the so-called "Kirribilli Agreement", stating that he would step down in Keating's favour at some point after the 1990 election.


Bob Hawke subsequently won that election, in the process leading Labor to a record fourth consecutive electoral victory, albeit by a slim margin.

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Bob Hawke appointed Keating as deputy prime minister to replace the retiring Lionel Bowen.


Bob Hawke considered the speech disloyal, and told Keating he would renege on the Kirribilli Agreement as a result.


Bob Hawke won the leadership spill, and in a press conference after the result, Keating declared that he had fired his "one shot" on the leadership.


Bob Hawke subsequently tendered his resignation to the Governor-General and pledged support to his successor.


Bob Hawke briefly returned to the backbench, before resigning from Parliament on 20 February 1992, sparking a by-election which was won by the independent candidate Phil Cleary from among a record field of 22 candidates.


Bob Hawke wrote that he had very few regrets over his time in office, although stated he wished he had been able to advance the cause of Indigenous land rights further.


Bob Hawke avoided public involvement with the Labor Party during Keating's tenure as Prime Minister, not wanting to be seen as attempting to overshadow his successor.


In 2002, Bob Hawke was named to South Australia's Economic Development Board during the Rann government.


In February 2008, after Rudd's victory, Bob Hawke joined former Prime Ministers Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser and Paul Keating in Parliament House to witness the long anticipated apology to the Stolen Generations.


In 2009, Bob Hawke helped establish the Centre for Muslim and Non-Muslim Understanding at the University of South Australia.


In 2016, after taking part in Andrew Denton's Better Off Dead podcast, Bob Hawke added his voice to calls for voluntary euthanasia to be legalised.


Bob Hawke labelled as 'absurd' the lack of political will to fix the problem.


Bob Hawke revealed that he had such an arrangement with his wife Blanche should such a devastating medical situation occur.


Bob Hawke publicly advocated for nuclear power and the importation of international spent nuclear fuel to Australia for storage and disposal, stating that this could lead to considerable economic benefits for Australia.


In late December 2018, Bob Hawke revealed that he was in "terrible health".


On 16 May 2019, two days before the election, Bob Hawke died at his home in Northbridge at the age of 89, following a short illness.


Bob Hawke married Hazel Masterson in 1956 at Perth Trinity Church.


Bob Hawke was named Victorian Father of the Year in 1971, an honour which his wife disputed due to his heavy drinking and womanising.


Bob Hawke eventually suffered from alcohol poisoning following the death of his and Hazel's infant son in 1963.


Bob Hawke publicly announced in 1980 that he would abstain from alcohol to seek election to Parliament, in a move which garnered significant public attention and support.

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Bob Hawke began to drink again following his retirement from politics, although to a more manageable extent; on several occasions, in his later years, videos of Bob Hawke downing beer at cricket matches would frequently go viral.


Bob Hawke was a supporter of National Rugby League club the Canberra Raiders.


In July 2019, the Australian Government announced it would spend $750,000 to purchase and renovate the house in Bordertown where Bob Hawke was born and spent his early childhood.


The Division of Bob Hawke was first contested at the 2022 federal election, and is located in the state of Victoria, near the seat of Wills, which Bob Hawke represented from 1980 to 1992.