There’s no denying that Bob Hawke is often regarded as one of the nation’s most popular prime ministers, but has he cracked what’s wrong with today’s leaders?
The 87-year-old, who served as the Australian PM from 1983 to 1991, believes it’s the fact everyday Aussies could relate to him that made him so popular.
Sitting down with Today’s Sylvia Jeffreys, Hawke was happy to discuss why the nation fell in love with him.
Jeffreys began by talking about one of Hawke’s greatest achievements: “When you skull a beer, the nation cheers. Why do you think that is?”
The oldest living PM laughed and suggested it was because people see themselves in him.
“Well, Australians like a beer. I suppose the thought of their Prime Minister holding the world speed record of two-and-a-half pints in 11 seconds makes them sort of vicariously proud,” he said.
“And it’s fun, you know. It’s not taking yourself too bloody seriously.”
Today’s politics are a far cry from the days when Hawke ruled the country.
With a numerous leadership spills, government leaks and political back-stabbing, many could argue our leaders are out of touch with everyday Australians.
Hawke received the highest-ever approval rating during his time as PM with 75 per cent. The only PM in recent times who has come close is Kevin Rudd.
Back in 1983, Australia famously won the America’s Cup, which saw thousands of Aussies getting drunk to celebrate the win.
At the time, Hawke famously said, “Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum”, something he’s admitted that he’ll probably be remembered for.
“Of all the brilliant things I’ve said as Prime Minister, the one that’s remembered the most is the observation of the boss who sacked the worker for being late as a bum,” he said.
He also suggested that marrying Blanche d’Alpuget was one of the highlights of his life.
As you’ll probably remember, the pair were involved in one of the greatest love-affairs Australian politics has ever seen.
In the 70s, Hawke was famously married to Hazel Hawke, but began dating d’Alpuget on the side.
Still, Hawke said it was the best thing that ever happened to him: “I simply can’t describe the love that there is between Blanche and myself.
“I just can’t imagine life without her.”
He’s also teamed up with author Derek Rielly to write a new book, Wednesdays with Bob, giving readers an inside glimpse to the real Hawke.
The cover of the book includes a photo of Hawke smoking a cigar and the pair would meet every Wednesday for a year on Hawke’s balcony to talk about his life and thoughts of what’s happening in the world today.
Of the partnership, Rielly said it was vital for readers to get to know the real Hawke: “I just really wanted to show the personal observations of what he’s like now. You know, Bob Hawke at 86 and 87.”
Hawke added that it was full of “bad language”, something he’s not overly proud of.
Still, in a world where the current PM can’t even name his favourite ACDC song, should more leaders have a laid-back approach like Hawke?