Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bob Hawke

Bob Hawke is yet another Prime Minister. He was the 1980's guy, but I'm not sure exactly when he got into office, and left.  I do know he came between Malcolm Fraser and Paul Keating. And he was from the Labor Party.

I'm actually not sure if Hawke is still living or not, although I know his ex-wife sadly has Alzheimer's.

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm not going to read Lord Wiki's entry on Hawke. I'm just going to go straight to the government Prime Minister site. I may drop in on Lord Wiki here and there to ask questions. We'll see.

Maybe I should finally mention that the government Prime Minister site is the National Archives of Australia. I realized that only a few days ago.

Anyway, they say that Hawke was the longest serving Labor Prime Minister. I didn't realize that. This page says his term was from March 1983 to December 1991. So he leaked into the 90's a bit.

Now I shall read about Hawke's before Prime Minister days.

Baby Robert James Lee was born in Bordertown, South Australia, on 9 December 1929. Let me go find Bordertown on Google Maps.

It's about three hours south-east of Adelaide, and two-and-a-half hours north of Michael in Mt. Gambier.

Daddy Hawke was a Congregational Minister, and Mommy Hawke had been a teacher. I guess she quit to stay at home with her two sons.

Hawke's older brother had been much older than him...there was about an eight year difference. Unfortunately, the brother died when Hawke was nine or ten. The National Archives doesn't say what happened, but they do say the family moved to Perth after it did. I'm not sure if the brother's death is just mentioned as frame of reference; or if their moving had something to do with the death. Did they feel a need to get away....make a change?

In Perth, the Hawke family lived in the suburb of West Leederville. Lord Wiki says this is three kilometers north-west of the CBD.

West Leederville has a community garden. I think that's so awesome. They had one of those on our TV show Arthur.

Hawke went to Perth Modern School. It's a school for gifted kids in years 8-12. From what I'm seeing from Lord Wiki though, it seems that the school wasn't always specifically for gifted students. It seems that aspect is new.

Hawke went to the University of Western Australia. In his first year there, he had a bad accident with his motor bike. Yikes! Oh, and his poor parents. They already lost one child. I'm sure they were terrified of losing another.

The good (yet not surprising) news is that Hawke survived; although he did have to have some surgery. He went on to graduate in 1953. That same year, his uncle Albert because the Labor Premier of Western Australia. Lord Wiki says he was Premier until 1959. That's a fairly long time. Liberal Menzies was Prime Minister then. I wonder if most state leaders were Liberal or Labor back then.

Lord Wiki says New South Wales had a Labor Premier. Tasmanian had Labor. Queensland had Labor for part of the Menzies time, but then switched to Country. Victoria had Country for awhile, then switched to Labor. South Australia had Liberal/Country.

So even though the Liberal Party had leadership Federally speaking, Labor seems to have had power at the state level. I wonder if it's more usual for Premiers to be of the same party as the current Prime Minister. I know right now that Australia has a Labor Prime Minister, and most of the Premiers are also Labor.

Let's get back to Hawke. After getting degrees from the University of Western Australia, he went over to Oxford University. There he did a thesis on the history of wage-fixing in Australia. Exciting. In 1956, he returned to Australia.

That year he married his girlfriend Hazel Masterson. The National Archives say they met eight years earlier. This means Hawke got married when he was 27, and he met his love when he was about nineteen.

Hawke and his new wife moved to Canberra, so he could attend Australian National University. Two years later, he left without finishing his degree. I don't think it was a matter of him not liking his degree. He was offered a job. Although maybe he didn't like the school, so he sought out a job.

Mr. and Mrs. Hawke, plus their infant daughter, moved to Melbourne so Mr. Hawke could work for the ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions). I'm looking at their website now. They don't seem to have much love for Tony Abbott. That's not surprising. By now I've gotten the point that Labor is the party more associated with unions.

In Melbourne, the Hawkes lived on Keats street. I love when such exact locations are given. I should be a professional stalker. I'd probably really enjoy it. Their home was about a two minute walk from the coast. How lucky is that. Although it may have been an ugly coast. Then again, an ugly coast is probably much better than no coast. I wonder if there was a beach. I'm looking at their street on Google Street View. It looks very Australian to me. Or I should really say it reminds me of streets we walked on when we were in Sydney.

There's a bunch of stuff here about what Hawke did for the unions. It was probably extremely important, but it's boring to me. So.... I'm going to move ahead.

In 1963, Hawke made his first attempt to get into Federal Parliament. He failed. About a year later, the Hawkes got a new house on Royal Avenue. It was in the same neighborhood (Sandringham), but bigger and even closer to the coast. By this time the family had three children. Sadly, a fourth child had died a few days after he was born.

Here we go. City Hobo has information about the neighborhood. They say it has a beach; and they actually make the place sound quite idyllic. Although City Hobo seems overly impressed that you can drink milk shakes in bottles there. What's so cool about that? Is it better than drinking a milk shake in a glass?

Funny. CityHobo mentioned some cupcake place. I tried googling it, and came up with a cupcake shop in Fort Worth, instead. I didn't even know we had a cupcake place! Maybe we'll go there. Maybe today. Tim's working at home. I should see if he wants to take a break.

In 1965, the Hawke family lived a short time in Papua New Guinea. They did this because Hawke was working on a wage case...trying to help public servants.

In 1969, Hawke became the president of the ACTU. In this position, he was big on the whole wage-fixing thing. I'm guessing that's like minimum wage; or just has basic parameters in general?

The National Archives says that Hawke worked well not only with unionists, but also their opponents. That's a great skill to have. What's that saying? You can attract more flies with honey than vinegar.....

In 1971, Hawke did some Jewish-Israeli type stuff. He won some award that he received in Israel, and then went to Moscow to help Jewish people who were lacking permission to leave the Soviet Union.

In 1973, Hawke became president of the Labor Party. Who is the President of the Labor party now? Why is there a president, AND leader/Prime Minister?

Lord Wiki says that Michel Williamson is the current president. Okay.

It sounds like the Hawke family did a lot of international traveling. I'm a little jealous. That's so incredibly selfish/greedy of me because my family probably travels more than most. Still, I think it would be cool to be one of those families who travels and lives in various countries. Although those families are probably somewhat exhausted, and wishing to settle down somewhere.

In 1975, that dismissal thing happened. Hawke got involved with it...participated in protests, and helped campaign to get Labor BACK into office. The National Archives says, Reflecting his preference for resolving rather than promoting industrial disputes, he held firm against calls for industrial action to protest Whitlam’s dismissal. I think that's good. I'm not sure how I'd feel about people causing delays and problems in order to protest politically about something. I'm not sure I'd agree with the ethics there.

In 1976, Hawke returned to Israel because they dedicated a forest to him. This was probably mostly for his work to help Jewish families from the Soviet Union.

Well, through all this work in the 1970's, Hawke was dealing with alcoholism. That means his family was dealing with it too. I'm sure that was extremely not fun for them. In 1979, Hawke had some kind of physical collapse. This led him to trying to break his addiction. I'm not sure how well that went.

All this time, Hawke was doing pretty well work-wise. He was quite popular. Yet, he still hadn't gotten a seat in Federal Parliament. That finally happened in 1980. He got the seat of Wills, and had it until 1992. The Leader of the Labor Party at that time was Bill Hayden. Hayden was the guy who thought he'd get to be Prime Minister, but then Hawke got the job instead.

In 1982, Hawke challenged Hayden's leadership. He didn't win, but the vote was close. And Labor Party people began to think that maybe Hawke would be a better leader. At Francis Forde's funeral, Hayden was asked to step down. He did.

Hawke became Leader of the Opposition. He had that role for only about a month. Then there was an election, and he became Prime Minister.

Well, Bill Hayden wasn't the best of losers. When he resigned, he said to the press, that in the current electoral climate, a drover’s dog could lead the Labor Party to victory. Ouch. Although now that I think of it, maybe that's not much of an insult. Certain human cultures REALLY like dogs.

So...we just went out to go to that cupcake place. But it was closed already. Their policy is that they close when the last cupcake sells. So we got ice-cream instead. Now for some reason, I have this song on my mind.

It's time to learn about Bob Hawke as Prime Minister.

His term began on 5 March 1983. This was the year of Return of the Jedi, Flashdance, and A Christmas Story. I'm just trying to give us some perspective of time here.

Hawke faced elections against the Liberals in 1984, 1987, and 1990. He won them all.

The National Archives says that Hawke pushed globalilization. He tried to get Australia more involved with the international market. I guess some stuff didn't work out, or there were complications. The unemployment rate went up to 11% which was the highest it had been since the Great Depression.

The Sydney Morning Herald says that TODAY'S unemployment rate is at 7.7%. That's good. Well, it's better than 11%. And from what I'm seeing on Google, America's unemployment rate is worse than Australia's right now.

When Hawke was Prime Minister, he had better relations with business entities than what's usual for a Labor leader. The business folks liked him. Some folks in the Labor Party did not...specifically those who were part of the left faction. They felt Hawke was too much on the right. It's kind of weird since Hawke had so much experience with unions. Or maybe it's not weird. Maybe his experience with unions gave him a better understanding of the opposing side.

When Hawke came into power, there was a $9000 million dollar deficit. What? I've never heard of 9000 million? Wouldn't that be a billion? Do Australians not say billion? Is this another one of those cultural/language differences?

Hawke and his Treasurer, Paul Keating tried to fix unemployment and inflation. They thought this would help the economy. I wonder what went wrong with the unemployment thing.

Hawke provided more financial support to families in need. He made lofty promises about no children in poverty by 1990. I guess that guy never heard the Jesus Christ Superstar song.

Surely you're not saying
We have the resources
To save the poor from their lot?
There will be poor always Pathetically struggling

Look at the good things you've got!

Hawke also tried to reestablish a universal health system, since Fraser had slightly dismantled the one set up by Whitlam.

AND....he worked on getting the states to agree to a single-gauge national train system. I've written about this issue before. I forgot what the context was.... I just searched through my blog. It was in the entry about the junior-version of William Charles Wentworth. He worked towards a single-gauge between Melbourne and Sydney in 1961. I guess Hawke wanted to take that plan even further.

Hawke was the Prime Minister during the Bicentennial celebrations, and the opening of New Parliament House. That's a pretty big deal.

Here's the economic stuff, and it helps me understand why folks thought he leaned too far on the right. It seems he was into free trade. They removed tariffs and increased globalization which probably has some benefits. The problem is Australian industries were then less protected.

Hawke did some environmental stuff. I guess the Tasmanian Franklin Damn thing happened while he was in office? They say it happened in 1983, but I'm not sure if happened before or during Hawke's Prime Minister time.

Well, Lord Wiki says it was a ongoing issue. The announcement came in 1978, and I guess then the fighting began. It sounds like Hawke helped the environmental side win. I'm not sure I fully understand this. But I think what happened is laws were put into effect in which the Commonwealth government had ultimate control of certain areas of Australia. This was the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act. I guess what this means is if New South Wales wants to sell a forest to a private company that will cut down all the trees, the Federal Government can step in and say no way.

Hawke's government also banned new uranium mining in Jabiluka, Northern Territory. I was wondering if the ban was still in place. Lord Wiki says John Howard lifted the ban. How lovely. It looks though that due to protests and falling Uranium prices the project never got underway. I might be missing something though. I'm a bit confused.

The Mirarr people are very unhappy about the idea of their land being mined. I can't blame them. The land is so central to their spiritual beliefs. Would Christians, Jews, and Muslims be happy if someone started mining under important religious sites in Israel? Almost all cultures have places, items, artifacts, etc that are sacred to them. For Aborigines, it happens to be the land itself. It's hard for me to imagine how they've at all managed to tolerate this invasion of their land. It's depressing. I don't know. So my feeling is if they say don't mine here, people should listen. I understand it's hard though. Mining brings money, and money can provide resources for a country. Life is complicated. But I have to side with the Mirarr folks on this.

Back to Hawke.....

He and Keating had gotten along well at first. Then with the economy problems, things got kind of not-so-good between them. They had rivalry! And the economy problems didn't make Hawke so popular with the voting public. It was a good time for Keating to get himself in power. And he did. On 12 December 1991, Hawke was asked to resign. Bye bye, Hawke.

That takes us to the After Office page. I just realized. I still don't know if Hawke is still alive or not. I guess I shall find out soon.

Two months after he was pushed to resign as Leader of the Labor Party, Hawkes also resigned from Parliament. He became a business man instead of a political man.

In 1994, he had his memoirs published. I'd love to read the memoirs of an Australian politician. Maybe I'll do that someday.

In 1995, Hawke divorced his wife. He got remarried to a woman who wrote his biography in 1982.

He's still ALIVE! He was part of the big apology of February 2008. From that day, the National Archives has a cute photo of all the still-alive former Prime Ministers, and the current one.

I just checked. Bob Hawke is not in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. I guess they write only about dead people.

So where should I go next? Let me glance around.

Here's the Bob Hawk Prime Ministerial Centre. It's part of the University of South Australia. For some reason, I almost wrote University of South Carolina. That would have been an oops.

It looks like it's a place for speeches, and other types of education. Well, I guess that's not surprising for something on a university campus.

Ah! There's an Andrew Denton interview with Hawke. This might be interesting.

Denton says from an early age, Hawke's family thought he was destined to lead the country. That's pretty awesome....to have your family have that much faith in you. What did my parents feel I was destined for? I really wonder. Did they know I'd turn out this weird?

Hawke says his mother was a teacher, and had a fanatical commitment to education. I think that's his nice way of saying she put a lot of pressure on him. Denton soon asks if he liked this, and Hawke says not always.

Parents have a hard balance to maintain. If you push your kids too much, they'll feel so much pressure. They might feel you'll stop loving them if they fail. If you never push them, they might feel you don't have faith in them. I don't really push Jack. I praise him often, and give encouragement. I make suggestions about things he might want to do.

His mom was a bit of a feminist. At Daddy Hawke's church, she'd push the congregates to send their daughters to school....not just their sons. It looks like some of her feminism rubbed off on Hawke. It was under his government that the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984 appeared. I learned that fact when I was surfing through Google, but wasn't sure where to fit it in. Then this Denton interview tidbit gave me the perfect place.

Hawke had a special bond with his dad. He had a lot of admiration for him. Well, it sounds like there was mutual admiration. I think mutual admiration is great in a relationship. Hawke says he left the church eventually, and is not religious. But he still holds some of his father's religious sentiments to heart. One that Hawke remembers is his father saying, if you believe in the fatherhood of God you must necessarily believe in the brotherhood of man. I like that too, although it sounds a little sexist. Still. I think they mean well.

Hawke was elected as Prime Minister on his dad's birthday. His dad walked around and told people how lucky Australia was. That is SUCH a sweet father.

Denton asks how it feels to be Prime Minister. I like Hawke's answer: I think it’s probably like when you start drinking. I mean you get more easily intoxicated in the beginning and it’s more exciting but certainly on that first day when you wake up and say, "I’m Prime Minister" it’s an exhilarating feeling but the reality is Andrew that the weight of work, the sheer intensity and volume of the things that you have to deal with doesn’t leave much room for exhilaration.

I totally imagine that's what it's like. I picture Obama on election night. I won! I won! I'm president! Then it would go to.... Oh, shit. I'm president. It's great to get your name in the history book, and your face on educational bookmarks and posters. But it's a lot of work and stress.

Hawke talk about his relationship with Paul Keating. He says when Keating challenged him for leadership, they weren't friends. They didn't much speak to each other for awhile. But now they're friends again. I love reconciliation. I really do. Hawke says, Some people, when they have a fight, it becomes personally bitter and lasting but there’s no reason why that should be so and looking back on it I mean I don’t can’t remember any you know fights that I had that finished up with lasting enemies. I love that. The problem is though that it takes two to make a reconciliation. If you want to be friends again, and the other person wants to continue to punish you with the silent treatment....not much you can do about it.

Hawke says hated and envy are the most corrosive elements in life. I might agree. I feel envy a lot, and it's a terrible thing to feel. I find it most often happens when I have a difficult relationship with someone. I feel very jealous and competitive. If I have a positive relationship with someone, I'm happy for them instead of jealous.

Hawke believes in not bottling up your anger. I strongly agree with this. I think it's best to either confront the person. And if that's not in anyone's best interest, it's good to talk to someone else about it. I mean not gossip really....venting. And yeah, I think there's a difference between the two.

He criticizes people who are so proud of their intellect. He says that it's something you're born with, and what's more important is what you do with your intelligence. I do think we can be happy and grateful for the gifts we were born with, maybe even proud to some degree. But I agree that how we use our gifts is the more important thing.

Hawke admits to being an awful drunk. He talks about stopping. The decision came in 1980. He went to an ACTU conference, and was invited to drink. He declined. He wanted to do that because he knew it would be a challenge. I guess drinking was a big aspect of the event.

Hawke says he never had a drink while in Parliament. And I don't think he means just when he was in a session of Parliament. I think he stopped drinking for that whole period of his life. I'm proud of him. I wish more people had the willpower to do that.

He did go back to drinking eventually, but it sounds like he can usually maintain control.

Hawke talks about his marriage problems. He admits to not being there enough for his wife and children.

He talks about his view of the world, and is not very optimistic. He's disturbed by the exploding population, and growing poverty. He then says, I mean you look in terms of political leadership. There are no great political leaders around. Yikes. That's a bit harsh. He puts blame on the media. Who wants to know about what bloody Paris Hilton is doing when you’ve got half the world living in, you know poverty? When you’ve got the potential for the world blowing itself up. I agree with him there, although I'm guilty of showing some interest in Paris Hilton. I did watch that Ellen segment a few months ago. I do think we need some frivolous distraction. Sometimes, it's fun to talk about superficial crap. The problem is for some people, that's almost ALL they want to talk about. It's sad when fashion and celebrity gossip are the center of your world.

Despite growing up with a father in the Christianity business, Hawke is an agnostic. He says he reached that mindset while in India. He saw people in extreme poverty, and says, I went as a delegate to World Christian Youth Conference there and there were all these poverty stricken kids at the gate of this palatial place where we were feeding our face and I just had this struck by this enormous sense of irrelevance of religion to the needs of people.

Yeah....but you can stuff your face AND help people in poverty. Although maybe Hawke found that these people did too much face-stuffing. Or also maybe he heard people saying callous things about poverty.

Denton asks if Hawke wishes there to be an afterlife. Hawke replies that if there is one he thinks reincarnation is part of it. Cool!

From this interview, Hawke seems like the type of person I'd like.

Well, I think I shall quit now. I have two more Prime Ministers left. At least I think I do. I might have missed someone.....