This week Australia mourned the loss of one of the most beloved and respected prime ministers in its history, Bob Hawke.
To this day, no other politician has been able to connect with the Australian public quite as effortlessly as Hawke could. Whether it was his larrikin attitude, his strong-headed approach to politics or his ability to down a yard of ale in 11 seconds, Hawke will forever be regarded as the people’s leader.
After 89 colourful years of life, Hawke’s legacy will live on through his life-changing policies and his powerful words of wisdom that continue to inspire Australians to this day.
With memorable lines like, “The world will not wait for us,” and, “The things which are most important don’t always scream the loudest”, it’s no surprise this man inspired the nation to do better.
Throughout his time in office, Hawke always made sure the people were his primary concern, and when speaking on the topic of power, Hawke famously said: “The essence of power is the knowledge that what you do is going to have an effect, not just an immediate but perhaps a lifelong effect, on the happiness and wellbeing of millions of people and so I think the essence of power is to be conscious of what it can mean for others.”
One of Hawke’s most famous lines that truly solidified his status as the ultimate Aussie bloke came when Australia won the American Cup in 1983. A boozed-up celebration was well-underway when Hawke, who wasn’t drinking at the time, wore a white suit covered in Australian flags and laughed in high spirits as he told viewers watching live that, “Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum”.
Hawke was renowned for his strong political convictions and could rarely be swayed in any kind of argument. When discussing his strong-minded leadership approach, he once told the public: “I find a fence a very uncomfortable place to squat my bottom.”
One of the more memorable moments from his time in office was when he updated the national anthem from ‘God Save the Queen’ to ‘Advance Australia Fair’. His reasoning behind this distancing from the monarchy was explained when he said: “The previous Olympics, for instance, you have the Brits getting up, they win a medal – they do win one occasionally – and up goes ‘God Save the Queen’, and then Australia gets up and it’s the same anthem – now, that’s crazy.”
Despite being an avid drinker in his earlier and later years, Hawke’s deep respect for the nation meant he became completely sober while he was in office, saying: “I just said to myself, ‘If you’re going to become prime minister of this country you can’t afford ever to be in a position where you can make a fool of yourself or of your country’, and I never had a drop for the whole period I was in parliament.”
The level of trust Hawke shared with the public is something that had never been done before, or since, his time in office, so when he was questioned on his character and trustworthiness, he simply answered: “Do you know why I have credibility? Because I don’t exude morality.”
And when asked how he would like to be remembered by the country, Hawke earnestly answered: “As a bloke who loved his country, still does. And loves Australians and who wasn’t essentially changed by high office.”
It’s safe to say, this is exactly how Australia feels.