Remembering Hawke

VISIT: From left, back, Gary Hough, then-Labor candidate for Grey John Hackett, the late Bob Hawke, current Member for Giles Eddie Hughes, Tracey Robinson and John Krizmanits. Front, then-Member for Giles Lyn Breuer and Sinead Hollingsworth-Hughes.
VISIT: From left, back, Gary Hough, then-Labor candidate for Grey John Hackett, the late Bob Hawke, current Member for Giles Eddie Hughes, Tracey Robinson and John Krizmanits. Front, then-Member for Giles Lyn Breuer and Sinead Hollingsworth-Hughes.

All sides of politics have mourned the recent passing of Labor legend Bob Hawke, who was Australia's longest-serving Labor Prime Minister.

Mr Hawke visited Whyalla in 1989 while campaigning ahead of the federal election the following year.

According to news reports at the time, it was in the Westland Shopping Centre that he encountered a Whyalla resident, who said to him 'you get more a week than we get a year'.

In his off-the-cuff response, Hawkie called the resident a 'silly old bugger'.

That response would go down in history as one of Mr Hawke's most memorable moments and was an example of his 'larrikin' personality.

Member for Giles Eddie Hughes, who met Mr Hawke on a number of occasions, remembers him as a 'charismatic leader who had a strong connection with the Australian people'.

"His form of leadership was very inclusive, the way he ran cabinet created a space for all voices to be heard," he said.

It was the Hawke/Keating Government that introduced Medicare, which Mr Hughes says has been 'one of the most important policy initiatives over the last 60 years'.

That government also introduced the Button Steel Plan in the mid 1980's, which led to the re-structuring of the steel industry at a time when it was facing an uncertain future.

"It's one of the reasons we still have a steel industry in Australia today," Mr Hughes said.

"Whyalla has a lot to be grateful for when it comes to the Hawke/Keating government."

Mr Hughes and his daughter Sinead Hollingsworth-Hughes were photographed with Mr Hawke during a get-together with then-Member for Giles Lyn Breuer.

"I think he has had a lasting impression on politics," he said.

Foreshore Motor-Inn owner Barbara Derham recalled meeting Mr Hawke at Copperhouse Court while she was President of Whyalla Aged Care.

"He obviously had very good advisors because he popped out of the car, strolled over to me, shook my hand and knew everything about me,' she said.

"He said 'I've heard a lot about you, you do a lot of good community work'."

Ms Derham remembers Mr Hawke as one of Australia's greatest Prime Ministers and a 'people person'.

"That was proved to me when he visited Copperhouse Court and went to nearly every single resident and had a chat with them," she said.

"He made them feel very much at ease...he was very genuine."

Ms Derham said it was a 'sad day' to see Bob Hawke pass away.

"It's a great loss to the Labor Party," she said.