Robert James Lee Hawke, a transformative and charismatic left-wing served as Australian prime minister from 1983 to 1991. Prime Minster Scott Morrison hailed Hawke’s ability to speak to all Australians. “Bob Hawke was a great Australian who led and served our country with passion, courage, and an intellectual horsepower that made our country stronger,” he said on social media. “The Australian people loved Bob Hawke because they knew Bob loved them, this was true to the very end,” Labor party leader Bill Shorten said in a statement.
Here are some of Robert James Lee Hawke achievements:
Inheriting an economy languishing in recession and with double-digit unemployment and inflation, Hawke embraced economic deregulation that belied his connections with Australia’s largest trade unions.
Hawke won support from the political left to float the Australian dollar, remove controls on foreign exchange and interest rates and lower tariffs on imports within months of his inauguration.
The reforms triggered a wave of economic growth, allowing Hawke to introduce universal healthcare, strengthen social security for poor families and enact stronger environmental legislation.
Voters embraced Hawke and Labor won an unlikely landslide against a conservative government led by Malcolm Fraser, who had been in power for nearly a decade. Hawke became Australia’s 23rd prime minister.
“I regard Bob Hawke as the best Labor prime minister this country has ever had,” former conservative leader John Howard, who served as Fraser’s treasurer, said this year.
Within months of Hawke becoming prime minister, Australia won sailing’s America’s Cup in 1983, ending 132 years of U.S. dominance over the oldest trophy in world sport.
Hawke led the celebrations, famously sticking up of anyone who might over-do the revelry, declaring on television: “Any boss that sacks a worker for not turning up is a bum.”
Australia also made its mark on the international stage under Hawke, who shifted diplomatic priorities away from Britain, fostering closer ties with the United States, China, Japan and Southeast Asia.
He also spearheaded international efforts to impose economic sanctions on South Africa over apartheid.
Hawke was riding high in opinion polls by the mid-1980s and won re-election in 1987 despite an economic downturn.
He won a fourth election in 1990 to become Australia’s longest-serving Labor prime minister but his popularity began to wane amid a recession.