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Bob Hawke Edit Profile

also known as Robert James Lee Hawke

politician , writer

Bob Hawke is an Australian politician, 23rd Prime Minister of Australia and the Leader of the Labor Party. He is, to date, Labor's longest-serving Prime Minister and Australia's third-longest-serving Prime Minister.


Ethnicity: Both his parents were of Cornish origin and he himself has stated that his background is Cornish. This led the Cornish writer and historian A.L. Rowse to write, "Bob Hawke's characteristics are as Cornish as Australian. I know them well: the aggressive individualism, the egoism, the touchiness, the liability to resentment, even a touch of vindictiveness."

Mr. Hawke was born in Bordertown, South Australia, Australia, on December 9, 1929. the second child of Arthur Hawke (1898-1989) (known as Clem), a Congregationalist minister, and his wife Edith (known as Ellie), a schoolteacher. His uncle, Albert, was the Labor Premier of Western Australia between 1953–1959, and was also a close friend of Prime Minister John Curtin, who was in many ways Bob Hawke's role model.

Mr. Hawke's elder brother Neil, who was seven years his senior, died at the age of seventeen after contracting meningitis, for which there was no cure at the time. Ellie Hawke subsequently developed an almost messianic belief in her son's destiny, and this contributed to Mr. Hawke's supreme self-confidence throughout his career. At the age of fifteen, he presciently boasted to friends that he would one day become the Prime Minister of Australia.


Bob Hawke was raised in Perth, attending Perth Modern School and completing Bachelor of Arts in Law and Economics at the University of Western Australia. At age 15, he boasted that he would one day become Prime Minister of Australia. He joined the Labor Party in 1947, and successfully applied for a Rhodes Scholarship at the end of 1952.

In 1953 Mr. Hawke went to the University of Oxford to commence a Bachelor of Arts at University College. He soon found he was covering much the same ground as his Bachelor's degree from Perth, and switched to a Bachelor of Letters, with a thesis on wage-fixing in Australia. The thesis was successfully presented in January 1956.


From 1956 to 1958 he worked at Australian National University, Canberra, as a researcher. Between 1958 and 1970 Mr. Hawke was appointed researcher and wages advocate at Australian Council of Trade Unionism and president in 1970-1980.

Bob Hawke served as a senior vice president of Australian Labor Party, 1971-1973, and later its president, 1973-1978.

After a decade as President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, he entered the House of Representatives as the Labor MP for Wills at the 1980 federal election. Three years later he led Labor to a landslide victory, and was sworn in as Prime Minister. In total, he led Labor to victory at four federal elections in 1983, 1984, 1987 and 1990, thus making him the most successful Labor Leader in history. Bob Hawke was eventually replaced by Paul Keating in 1991.

Bob Hawke is widely known to be an Australian writer. He was a member of board of Reserve Bank of Australia, 1972-1975.


  • The Hawke Government created Medicare and Landcare, brokered the Prices and Incomes Accord, formed APEC, floated the Australian dollar, deregulated the financial sector, introduced the Family Assistance Scheme, announced "Advance Australia Fair" as the official national anthem and initiated superannuation pension schemes for all workers.

    Bob Hawke remains Labor's longest-serving Prime Minister, Australia's third-longest-serving Prime Minister, and at the age of 88 years, 71 days, Mr. Hawke is the oldest living former Australian Prime Minister. Hawke is the only Australian Prime Minister to be born in South Australia, and the only one raised and educated in Western Australia.



Mr. Hawke's first attempt to enter Parliament came during the 1963 federal election. He stood in the seat of Corio and managed to achieve a 3.1% swing against the national trend, but fell short of winning the seat. He was first elected to the House of Representatives at the 1980 federal election for Wills in Melbourne. Immediately upon his entry into Parliament, Bob Hawke was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet by Labor Leader Bill Hayden as Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, Employment and Youth. With opinion polls indicating that, in contrast to Hayden, Mr. Hawke was "a certain election winner", Hayden called a leadership ballot for 16 July 1982. Hayden managed to defeat Mr. Hawke and remain Leader, but his five vote victory over the former ACTU President was not large enough to dispel doubts that he could lead the Labor to victory at a federal election.

Mr. Hayden's leadership was further questioned when Labor performed poorly in a by-election in December 1982 for the Victorian seat of Flinders, following the resignation of the former Liberal Minister Sir Phillip Lynch. Labor needed a swing of 5.5% to win the seat, but could only achieve 3%. This convinced many Labor MPs that only Mr. Hawke could lead Labor to victory at the upcoming election. Labor Party power-brokers such as Graham Richardson and Barrie Unsworth now lined up behind Bob Hawke. More significantly, Hayden's staunch friend and political ally, Labor Senate Leader John Button, eventually became convinced that Mr. Hawke's chances of victory were greater than Hayden's.

Button's defection was crucial in encouraging Mr. Hayden to resign as Labor Leader less than two months after the lacklustre performance in Flinders. When Hayden announced his resignation on 3 February 1983, Bob Hawke was named acting leader. On the same day, Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser called a snap election for 5 March 1983, hoping to capitalise on Labor's feuding. He believed at first that he had caught Labor before it could elect a replacement Leader, but was surprised to find out that Hayden had already resigned. Mr. Hawke was elected Leader of the Labor Party, and twenty-five days later Labor won on a 24-seat swing, ending seven years of Liberal rule




  • Other Interests

    Literature, Cinema


On March 1956 Bob Hawke married Hazel Masterson at Perth Trinity Church. They would go on to have three children: Susan Pieters-Hawke (born 1957), Stephen (born 1959) and Roslyn (born 1960). Their fourth child, Robert Jr, died in his early infancy in 1963. The couple divorced in 1995. Mr. Hawke subsequently married the writer Blanche d'Alpuget, and the two currently live together in Northbridge, a suburb of the North Shore of Sydney.

Arthur Hawke - Australian - politician

Edith Hawke - Australian

Hazel Masterson - Australian - pianist
Hazel Masterson - wife of Bob Hawke

Blanche d'Alpuget - Australian - novelist
Blanche d'Alpuget - wife of Bob Hawke

Albert Hawke - Australian - politician

Neil Hawke - Australian


  • Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library | University of South Australia Library University of South Australia Library
  • Hawke: The Prime Minister Based on exhaustive research and interviews, this record is a meticulous portrait of wily and brilliant Australian politician, Bob Hawke. Candid and detailed, this account underscores Hawke’s achievements, such as his victory over Labor leader Bill Hayden, his appointment as Prime Minister, and his involvement in the precarious game of international politics in the last days the Cold War. Rich with intrigue and drama, this reference also includes an in-depth analysis of how power is deployed and how elections are won in Australia.