At a time when the Queensland Synod gathers in consensus decision-making, the Australian icon of consensus politics, Bob Hawke AC, GCL, has passed away.
Irrespective of one’s political persuasion, we can all acknowledge that Bob Hawke, of congregational church background, caught the mood of the country for something better in our communal life, and delivered on it.
Together with Paul Keating, Bob Hawke transformed our economy to be open to the world, flexible, and rewarding of initiative and risk-taking. He realised it was important to “grow the pie”; that focusing only on “cutting the pie” was inherently self-defeating.
He bought us all along on that journey, risked proposing radical solutions – like a GST – but was ready to let such ideas go if the community refused; his leadership tested the bounds of what was possible. He convinced union and business alike to work together for what was the good of the whole country, not just their own interests. He remained committed to unpopular ideas – like nuclear power – when he could see the fundamental sense of them and never gave up trying to open people’s minds to a greater vision.
He had his person demons to deal with, and at times lacked personal discipline which was generally forgiven by the Australian populace because we could see he did love us; he believed in us; he wanted the best for us. “He who loves much is forgiven much”.
Thanks for your heart and passion, Bob, may you find mercy in the next life.