Raise a democracy sausage to him

I cried when DD told me Bob Hawke had died.

We’re on different sides of the political fence, but DD agreed Bob was an amazing man.

Bob predicted in December that Labor would win the next election, but didn’t think he would be around to see it.

“I’ve had my time,” the former prime minister said.

Bob met with Bill Shorten on Monday to offer his support.

Bill noted tonight: “In Australian history, in Australian politics, there will always be B.H. and A.H: Before Hawke and After Hawke. After Hawke, we were a different country. A kinder, better, bigger and bolder country,” Shorten said.

“The Australian people loved Bob Hawke because they knew Bob loved them, this was true to the very end.

“At our Labor launch I told Bob we loved him, I promised we would win for him. I said the same to him the next day at his home, when I visited.

“The Sydney sun was out, that famous silver mane, now snow-white. Cigar in hand, strawberry milkshake on the table, the hefty bulk of his dictionary holding down the day’s cryptic crossword.

“I gave the man who inspired me to go into politics a gentle hug, I tried to tell him what he meant to me, what he meant to all of us. I couldn’t quite find the right words, few of us can, when we’re face-to-face with our heroes.”

And now, just days before the election, Bob is gone.

They don’t make politicians like Bob any more.

Russell Crowe isn’t normally on my favourite tweet list, but I liked his words tonight: “Bob Hawke has died. A great man who made this country confident. A great man who never lost his humility. Guinness book of records 1954 , 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. Rhodes Scholar. Trade Union Leader. Prime Minister. Statesman. Thanks for everything Mr Hawke.”

Everything included the Hawke government passing the Sex Discrimination Act in 1984, which outlawed gender discrimination in the workplace.

It also reintroduced the Whitlam government’s Medibank policy, rebranding it Medicare and implementing the system we still use today.

Bob defended the environment by stopping construction of the Franklin Dam in Tasmania.

He pushed towards reconciliation with indigenous Australians, replacing the Department of Aboriginal Affairs with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

As Kevin Rudd added in a tweet last night: “He internationalised the Australian economy. He established APEC and radically deepened Australia’s engagement with Asia.”

Bob’s wife Blanche added further milestones in her statement on his passing: “Among his proudest achievements were large increases in the proportion of children finishing high school, his role in ending apartheid in South Africa, and his successful international campaign to protect Antarctica from mining.”

At one point Bob’s popularity peaked with an approval rating of 75%.

Imagine that happening in today’s political climate?

I dragged the eldest away from Netflix to run through Bob’s achievements. They didn’t really get who I was talking about until I mentioned the “2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds” bit. “Oh, that dude!”

But Bob was so much more than a knockabout beer-swilling bloke.

I’ve been disgusted by the in-fighting, inhumanity and generally appalling behaviour of too many politicians recently.

They seem to have lost sight of the fact they’re in the job to help the people of Australia, not to back-stab and undermine and one-up each other.

John Birmingham noted on Twitter: “I am actually tearing up about Bob Hawke. I think because it feels like we’ve also lost so much that he fought for. We haven’t. But it still feels like a great and terrible loss.”

On Saturday I will buy my democracy sausage, place my vote at the polling booth and remember a man who truly cared for this country and its people.


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