JOHN MENADUE. Bob Hawke’s open letter to Australians

On Wednesday Bob Hawke sent an open letter to Australians — a short message reminding us that Bill Shorten is ready to lead a united Labor team to contribute to a prosperous, fair and environmentally sustainable Australia. Here is the full text.

My fellow Australians,

Under Bill Shorten’s leadership, Labor is taking to the 2019 federal election a full suite of economic, social and environmental policies. Bill has rejected a small-target approach in favour of his Labor vision of a prosperous, fair and environmentally sustainable Australia.

Bravery, honesty and vision are needed of the next Australian government. Laying out a party’s detailed policy ahead of the election requires political courage. Bill and his team have shown that courage, trusting the fair-mindedness of the Australian people.

A good government requires a strong team. Bill and his deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek, have assembled a blend of Shadow Ministers with extensive cabinet experience and new talent. The stability and unity of labour over the past six years has allowed Shadow Ministers to master their portfolios and lead the way in policy development.

Over the past six years the Liberals have had three leaders while Labor has had one, and three Treasurers while Labor has had one Shadow Treasurer. As I said repeatedly when I was Prime Minister, if you can’t govern yourselves you can’t govern the country.

If elected, Bill Shorten and his team would hit the ground running, implementing Labor’s plans and settling the nation up for a stronger economic future.

Not only has Bill led a united Labor team, as a former trade union leader he has the track record of bringing workers and business together.

Well Bill’s political opponents argue his trade union background is the liability for a future Prime Minister, I consider it an asset, as it was for me. It gives them the experience to achieve consensus with business, unions and community-based organisations for the challenges that lie ahead.

Labour’s political opponents are seeking to divide and frighten Australians ahead of this election – just as they did back in 1983 when I was seeking Prime Ministership. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

My experience is that the Australian people rarely get it wrong they will vote for a united party that is able to look after their interests and the national interest. And in my view, Australia needs a Labor government led by Bill Shorten and his team.

Bill Shorten is ready to be Prime Minister of Australia. He will serve our nation well.

Yours Sincerely,

RJL Hawke AC

A facsimile of his letter can be found here.


Ian McAuley is a retired lecturer in public finance at the University of Canberra and a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development.

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10 Responses to JOHN MENADUE. Bob Hawke’s open letter to Australians

  1. Michael Byrne says:

    Straight out of Labor HQ…. now empty and desolate.

  2. Stephen Lusher says:

    We all love Bob. Time heals all wounds and the big picture remains. He was one of the best Prime Ministers.

    Reflecting on Morrison’s Coalition re-election it seems pertinent to think that Australians prefer ‘one of their own’ to be their Prime Minister. The best examples in recent memory are Bob Hawke, John Howard and now Scott Morrison.

    For whatever reasons Australians warmed only momentarily to Whitlam, Keating, Rudd, Gillard, Abbott and Turnbull and largely only when they became caught up in some sense of promise that did not translate into reality. The honeymoon in all these cases was brief.

    There are lessons to be learned here.

  3. From a long on-and-off acquaintance with Hawke I would agree with the Tony Abbot remark that Hawke was emotionally Labor but Liberal in much of his thinking. To allow so much of Australia’s manufacturing industry, which together with its ancillary industries was a large employer of labor, to collapse because of out-dated neo-lib free trade fixations hardly rates as pro-Labor.

    John Button, who realised the need for an industry policy, once told me it was impossible to get past Hawke fixations.

  4. Michael Flynn says:

    Thank you for this great message. Yesterday after gardening on ABC TV we watched the documentary on the late Bob Hawke so this letter was most welcome. Today Saturday we handed out how to vote Labor material and now await the result. Pray to St Bob ?

  5. Kien Choong says:

    Hawke was the PM when I first went to Australia to study. I remember how amazing it seemed to have government ministers who would go on TV to be scrutinised. I once heard Hawke say that he always felt that Australians could be persuaded to support good policies. He also said that he genuinely like being with people. Confidence in people’s willingness to support good policies and a genuine love for the people. That is a powerful combination.

  6. John Vincent says:

    Agree, vintage Bob Hawke. Leading until the end for the benefit of Australia. Two additional typos in the published copy of the original facsimile letter. Third last paragraph, first sentence: insert “the” after “seeking”. Penultimate paragraph, first sentence: insert hyphen between “ wrong” and “they”. I think Bob would want any copies of his last public letter to be copied verbatum. Farewell a great leader and Australian.
    Typos fixed JM

  7. Imelda Dodds says:

    Vintage Hawke. Spot on as always.

  8. Anne Rieusset-Frazer says:

    Bob Hawke the gift that keeps on giving.
    17th May 2019

  9. Terry Mills says:

    The actual letter says the 2019 election, your published copy says 2018 election.

    Better correct that !

Comments are closed.