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Bob Hawke
(full name: Robert James Lee Hawke)
Prime Minister of Australia from 1983 to 1991

(1929- )

Bob Hawke, Prime Minister of Australia from 1983 to 1991 (image)

Bob Hawke, 1983

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[...] we are still prisoners of our colonial history [...]
-- The Resolution of Conflict (1979), p. 21

[...] no-one is more conscious than I of our tendency to conservatism as a people, and of the need, therefore, for those who would advocate change to temper their fervour with a sense of gradualism. This constraint sits happily with me..."
-- The Resolution of Conflict (1979), p. 23

Politics to some extent has become debased in our country, in part because of the perceptions people have of politicians, but also because the actual practice of Government has become too remote from them. Parliament does not provide the link to Government,... it is perceived essentially as a rubber-stamp for the government of the day.
-- The Resolution of Conflict (1979), p. 31

People have become cynical about politics and this is unhealthy and dangerous for our body politic."
-- The Resolution of Conflict (1979), p. 30

"Australia stands poised on the threshold of the 1980's more divided within itself, more uncertain of the future, more prone to internal conflict, than at any other period in its history."
-- The Resolution of Conflict (1979), p. 33

Full emplyment was the cement that bound our society together, enabled us to face the challenges of a changing world and, to some extent, came to nurture a degree of compassion for the less privileged among us. That cement is crumbling, and as it crumbles we can discern the beginnings of a fracture in our society. Indeed, it is not difficult to perceive the emergence of two societies -- the employed and the unemployed -- some akin to Disraeli's "two nations".
-- The Resolution of Conflict (1979), p. 38

In sum, the truth is that we luxuriate in the comfortable assertion that women enjoy equality. We have salved our consciences by eliminating the more obvious discriminations like unequal rates of
pay for work of equal value. But, in fact, we have not eliminated the inheritance of the millennia that women are lesser beings, an inheritance which still manifests itself in a whole range of prejudice and other forms of discrimination.
-- The Resolution of Conflict (1979), p. 42

While society cannot provide employment for its members, the production/work/income nexus has to be abandoned as a justification for our present parsimony to the unemployed. An assumption cannot be used to justify making second-class citizens of those who are unfortunate enough to constitute living proof of the inaccuracy of that assumption.
-- The Resolution of Conflict (1979), pp. 45-46

The surest guarantee for continued conflict is to perpetuate the gulf between principle and practice which characterises our community today.
-- The Resolution of Conflict (1979), p. 49

Peoples have come to experience that political structures and divisions of power are not immutable. Nor will they perceive the distribution of wealth and resources between nations to be unalterably ordained by heaven and incapable of drastic rearrangement by the less than gentle manipulation of man."
-- The Resolution of Conflict (1979), p. 65

This stuff about the meek inheriting the earth is a lot of bullshit. The weak need the strong to look after 'em.
-- Quoted in: Craig McGregor, The Australian People (1980), p. 28

Well, I don't want to be any more egotistical than possible. I have total confidence in ability.
-- On entering Parliament for the first time in 1979. Quoted in: T. Thompson and E. Butel , eds., The World According to Hawke (1983), p. 74.

I am not about [...] being able for some indefinite period to sit under the banyan tree and scratch myself and say 'What a jolly good bloke am I' [...] in a position of ideological purity but nevertheless in the process divorcing myself and my party from the opportunity of government.
-- Speaking in Washington DC, June 1983. Quoted in: The Age, 17 June 1983

Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum.
-- Speaking at the Royal Perth Yacht Club after the historic victory of the yacht Australia II in the 1983 America's Cup

I just loved him and he loved me… He was a most humble man, the most decent man I've ever met in my life and he always looked for the best in people to find positives and he said something to me
that always remained with me. He said if you believe in the fatherhood of God you must necessarily believe in the brotherhood of man, it follows necessarily and even though I left the church and was not religious, that truth remained with me.
-- Speaking of his father

Do you know why I have credibility? Because I don't exude morality.
-- Bob Hawke

I find a fence a very uncomfortable place to squat my bottom.
-- Bob Hawke

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.
-- Bob Hawke

The things which are most important don’t always scream the loudest.
-- Bob Hawke

Further Reading

Anson, Stan (1991). Hawke: An Emotional Life. Macphee Gribble.

Blewett, Neal (2000), 'Robert James Lee Hawke,' in Michelle Grattan (ed.), Australian Prime Ministers, New Holland.

Bramston, Troy and Ryan, Susan (2003). The Hawke Government : A Critical Retrospective. Pluto.

d'Alpuget, Blanche (1982). Robert J Hawke. Schwartz.

d'Alpuget, Blanche (2010). Hawke: The Prime Minister. Melbourne University Press.

Davidson, Graham; Hirst, John; MacIntyre, Stuart (1998). The Oxford Companion to Australian History. Oxford University Press.

Edwards, John (1996). Keating, The Inside Story. Penguin.

Hawke, Bob (1994). The Hawke Memoirs. Heinemann.

Hurst, John (1983). Hawke PM. Angus & Robertson.

Jaensch, Dean (1989). The Hawke-Keating Hijack. Allen and Unwin.

Kelly, Paul (1992). The End of Certainty: The Story of the 1980s. Allen and Unwin.

Mills, Stephen (1993). The Hawke Years. Viking.

Richardson, Graham (1994). Whatever It Takes. Bantam.

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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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