Bob Hawke dead at 89: Prime minister’s 1983 America’s Cup speech


It was the moment he became our “larrikin” prime minister.

Freshly elected to Australia’s highest office, Bob Hawke’s appearance at the 1983 America’s Cup solidified his place as a man of the people. It was perhaps his most iconic moment as prime minister.

Wearing his national pride literally on his sleeve in a jacket emblazoned with the word “Australia”, Mr Hawke couldn’t hide his elation when Alan Bond’s Australia II beat the US team to take home the cup and declared a national holiday.

Mr Hawke, who has died at the age of 89, had some now-famous advice for the country’s bosses.

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media_cameraBob Hawke at the 1983 America’s Cup win

“I tell you what, any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum!” Mr Hawke said to cheers and laughter from the crowd around him.

“You have to work a bit harder the next day to make up … it’s a day for all Australians, it’s a day (that) brings us all together. Marvellous, absolutely marvellous.”

Mr Hawke would later joke that his “bum” comments would go down in history as one of the most famous things he ever said.

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“I’m very proud of it in one way (and) very disappointed that all the other, many brilliant things I’ve said are never mentioned,” Mr Hawke quipped.

“What’s the most brilliant thing Hawkie ever said? It’s the ‘bum’ one’ … it wasn’t just a magnificent sporting achievement but they reflected the Australian spirit, the irreverence.”

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media_cameraBob Hawke in the famous jacket on stage during a luncheon to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Australia II’s America’s Cup victory. Picture: Gregg Porteous

RELATED: Australia grieves over death over former prime minister Bob Hawke

Mr Hawke would don his famous Australia jacket again in 2013 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Australia’s legendary America’s Cup win, looking just as elated as he had on that day decades earlier.

The former prime minister was also famous for his beer-sculling ability, breaking the world record after sculling a yard glass of beer in under 12 seconds during his university days at Oxford.

Mr Hawke lost none of his beer-sculling ability with age, with video emerging in 2012 of the former prime minister downing a schooner of beer at the Sydney Cricket Ground to cheers of “one for the country!”

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media_cameraBob Hawke sculled a beer given to him by a bystander at the SCG in 2012.

He was also photographed in January last year at The Ashes chugging a beer while sitting in the stands.

Mr Hawke’s death was confirmed in a statement from his wife Blanche d’Alpuget, who said he died peacefully at home.

“Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian — many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era,” the statement read.

“He died peacefully at home at the age of 89 years.

“I and Bob’s children, Sue, Stephen, Rosslyn and stepson, Louis, and his grandchildren, will hold a private funeral.

“A memorial service will be held in Sydney in coming weeks.

“Bob Hawke and Paul Keating and their governments modernised the Australian economy, paving the way for an unprecedented period of recession-free economic growth and job creation.”

Originally published as Hawkie’s most classic moment



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