Subjects: Bob Hawke tribute.
RICHARD WILKINS (CO-HOST): The Labor legend was, of course, known as the ‘People’s Prime Minister’, and inspired many in the political world, including current MP and former Deputy Labor leader Anthony Albanese, who joins us now from Balmain in Sydney. Thanks for joining us Albo.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER: Good to be with you.
WILKINS: Balmain boys don’t cry, but I’m sure there are a few tears there today. Bob Hawke leaves an enormous legacy. How will you remember him?
ALBANESE: Look, I’ll just remember him as a great Prime Minister, a tremendous human being, a mentor, and a friend. Bob Hawke leaves an enormous legacy. He changed the nation for the better. But in order to do that, he first had to change Labor. He taught us that we had to be in long-term Government in order to entrench reforms. And he did that. Medicare is a direct result of Bob Hawke winning four terms. We, of course, had Gough Whitlam introduced Medibank, but then it was dismantled by the Fraser government. It took Bob Hawke to win election, after election, after election, after election, literally, for four times in order to entrench that reform. Similarly with compulsory superannuation and the social wage – he lifted up living standards. He showed us that unions and employers could have common interests, could come together in the national interest. And he, of course, leaves also a massive environmental legacy: the Daintree, Kakadu, the Tasmanian wilderness are all there as a direct result of Bob Hawke’s legacy and his prime ministership.
SONIA KRUGER (CO-HOST): Albo, during your time as deputy Labor leader, did he ever give you any advice?
ALBANESE: I used to go to his office in William Street over the years, and sit down with him, at the foot of the great man, so to speak, and just listen really. Bob Hawke was living history. He had such an enormous career in the labour movement, both the industrial and the political wings. He was a source of great advice. I was very proud to call him my friend. He was the guest speaker at my 20th anniversary of my election into Parliament at Hurlstone Park RSL. And the thing about that night I’ll remember is just him being mobbed. And we had to get some people to be, if you like, almost like security around him, so that it was one at a time, people wanting to engage with him, to take their photo with him, and just to shake the great man’s hand. And even outside the function centre, which had about seven hundred people there, there were people who found out that Bob Hawke was in the building, and they wanted to see him and to engage with him. They remember that he made a difference to their lives, whether they were pensioners who had their pension increased, whether they were people who had benefited from Medicare, whether they were people who had benefited from superannuation, or people who just admired Bob Hawke as a human being, whether they were at the Chinese community. I had a dinner also – at West Ashfield has a very big Chinese restaurant in it, and Ashfield is one of the centres of the community where people from Tiananmen Square were able to settle and stay in Australia – those students who were studying at the time. And that was a remarkable dinner, where Bob Hawke was guest of honour, and they came to basically say thank you for changing their lives and those people, of course, have gone on to be great Australian citizens. Or whether it be the book launch of my biography by Karen Middleton that Bob Hawke launched at Parliament House. I remember Karen saying to me: ‘who do you want to launch the book?’ and I said ‘Bob Hawke’. And she said: ‘who would the second choice be?’ and I said ‘Bob Hawke’. ‘Who would the third choice be?’ and I said ‘Bob Hawke’, because to me, he embodied what it is to be a great Labor politician and to make a difference to people’s lives, and to engage with people. He could sit around a boardroom, and was just as comfortable in a pub.
WILKINS: I knew you’d get a book plug in there, Albo. Look, he certainly was a political rock star. Bob Hawke recently wrote an open letter, Albo, saying that Bill Shorten should be Prime Minister. What sort of impact do you think his passing will have on tomorrow’s election?
ALBANESE: Oh look, today is not a day to reflect on political impact. It’s a day to pay tribute to Bob Hawke. But Bob Hawke, of course, is a reminder of how good Labor can be in Government, and his Government was a great one. I hope after Saturday to be a member of Bill Shorten’s Government, which I think also, just like Bob Hawke’s team, is a great team. And during this election campaign, we have seen the team around Bill Shorten, and Scott Morrison’s been more one-out as the Prime Minister. And I think Bob Hawke was a great Cabinet chairman, and Bill Shorten is a great Shadow Cabinet chairman, and I’m sure that after Saturday, if we’re successful tomorrow, he’ll lead a very good Government indeed, and it’ll be one that I’ll be proud to serve in.
WILKINS: All right Anthony Albanese, thank you for your time today sir, and all the best for tomorrow. Thanks Albo.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.