ACOSS tribute to Bob Hawke

17 May 2019

ACOSS today pays tribute to former Prime Minister Bob Hawke as a great Australian leader, whose transformative agenda made Australia a fairer, kinder, more equal and inclusive country.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“Bob Hawke’s unique leadership combined great intellect, with humour and heart. Where others discriminated or shamed, he offered respect and dignity. As Prime Minister, Bob Hawke rejected racism in all its forms, recognised Australia’s First Peoples’ right to self-determination, celebrated our cultural diversity, welcomed refugees and made concrete advances towards gender equality.”

“Among Hawke’s greatest social policy achievements was his success in reducing poverty among Australian children, lifting the unemployment payment, the establishment of today’s Medicare scheme, the creation of ATSIC and significant investments in public housing and child care.

“Bob Hawke’s famous commitment to end child poverty led to an extraordinary reduction in child poverty by 30%, transforming so many young lives.

“In 1987, the Hawke Government delivered a comprehensive child poverty reform package that increased assistance for low-income families and benchmarked income support payments to the cost of children. The package also put in place housing, education, training, childcare and tax reforms to help low-income families. This package reduced child poverty by an extraordinary 30 per cent.

“Hawke demonstrated that poverty was not intractable, but a choice about Government priorities. He had the courage to lead this reform.

“Hawke pioneered a new model of collaborative leadership, working with business, union and community groups to tackle complex policy challenges and his approach led to a fundamentally different Australia.

“We pay tribute to his social, economic, environmental, human rights and international legacy.

“Like so many, we will miss him.”