The Hawke Memoirs
"Leadership, largely, is the essence of political life. Bob Hawke has been a leader in every arena he entered - academia, student affairs, the trade union movement, and federal politics. He won four Federal Elections in a row, a feat achieved by no other Labor Prime Minister. This is his own account of his remarkable life.
"A man of destiny, pragmatist and visionary, with plans for national reconciliation and for creating a new role for Australia in world affairs, Hawke challenged much of the conventional wisdom of public life and brought an extraordinary sense of purpose to his government. His leadership coincided with the eighties; he and his treasurer, and later arch rival, Paul Keating, embraced the expansive mood of the time and set out to make Australia internationally competitive, an ambition which has been largely achieved.
"As Australia's prime Minister, Hawke established himself as among the most colourful world leaders. His part in the now legendary debates with Margaret Thatcher over South African sanctions, his friendship with Ronald Reagan and George Bush, his unique role in the Middle East, his negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev on behalf of the refuseniks and his leadership in saving the Antarctic from mining gave him a prominence far exceeding Australia's place on the world stage.
"Bob Hawke has always maintained a special relationship with the Australian people, living his political and personal life never far from public scrutiny - mostly praised but often condemned for his unexpected attitudes and emotions. A sports lover and punter, Bob Hawke, a man of the people, is also a great Australian."
About the Author:
Bob Hawke stands tall among Australia heroes. Throughout a long and supercharged public career he has presented extraordinary solutions to seemingly insoluble problems and is recognised as the country's foremost negotiator.
He used his time as a Rhodes scholar to prepare himself academically to become an advocate for the trade union movement which he later led and transformed. He delayed his entry into Parliament so long that political gurus wrote him off - but in just two years he became Prime Minister and was to hold this position for almost a decade.
Bob Hawke's years in power saw the forging of a dynamic partnership with his Treasurer, Paul Keating. Ironically this relationship later spawned the most bitter rivalry and fiercely contested leadership battle in Australian political history. It culminated in the resignaton from Parliament of Labor's longest serving Prime Minister after Hawke lost a narrow Caucus vote.
First Paragraph from the Preface:
Looking back at my time as Prime Minister, I think of the state of mind of the early eighties, of the attitudes and assumptions which, with the exception of three years of Labor under Whitlam, had been shaped by three decades of conservative governance. They were attitudes and assumptions which were stultifying Australian life; they had to change if the nation was to grow materially, intellectually and morally and so be able to take its proper place in the world.
At the beginning of the 1980s it was accepted that employers and workers were destined for conflict and confrontation; that rural and city Australia were almost different nations and that Labor was an alien force in rural politics; that education was not a right equally available to the children of the poor as of the rich; and that pensions should be available equally to the asset rich as to the asset impoverished. Superannuation was the preserve of the privileged few. It was also accepted that manufacturing was to be conducted behind high tariff walls with no relevance to earning export income; that high inflation was endemic in Australia and would always be higher than in the major industrial economies; that the countries to our north were properly designated in Eurocentric terms as 'the Far East', not as they are, East Asia, and that this was a region to be regarded either as a potential threat of war or a place for exotic holidays. It was assumed that in the conduct of our international relations we exhausted our responsibilities by ascertaining the view of the British and the Americans and falling in line with them; and, most reprehensibly, that a condescending attitude to our Aboriginal citizens was somehow justified. Informing all of this was the view, based on our history, that Labor only became the Government of Australia by default.
From the William Heinemann Australia hardback edition, 1994.
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Last modified: February 11, 2002.