Bob Hawke’s death and implications for the election

Bob Hawke pictured in January 2014. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Born in December 1929 in Bordertown, South Australia, Robert James Lee Hawke was the son of a Congregational minister and a schoolteacher. The family moved to Western Australia in 1939, and Hawke was educated at the Perth modern school and the University of Western Australia, before attending Oxford as a Rhodes scholar.

He returned to Australia and married Hazel Masterton in 1956 , his long time girlfriend.

In 1958, he took up an advocate’s position at the ACTU. Hawke prospered there, taking the presidency in 1970 and serving in that role for a decade.

As head of the trade union movement, Hawke was instrumental in opposing apartheid in South Africa and led several protests against all-white sporting teams that visited Australia.

Hawke became a household name as president of the ACTU but his relentless drinking and womanising was well known and was seen as a major handicap to his political ambitions.

Hazel Hawke said in one interview she realised Hawke was serious about becoming prime minister when he gave up drinking. He had made a couple of earlier attempts to enter parliament but in 1980 was preselected as the member for Wills, and elected that year.

Hawke stalked the then opposition leader Bill Hayden relentlessly, leading to leadership instability which was finally resolved in February 1983. The following month a federal election was held and Hawke defeated Malcolm Fraser. He had realised his ambition to become prime minister of Australia.

That only ended in 1991 when he was deposed by Keating, who accused Hawke of reneging on the Kirribilli agreement to hand over power.…-former-australian-prime-minister-dies-age-89


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