Bob Hawke’s biggest achievements | The Courier-Mail

Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke is being remembered following his death for the way he changed Australia.

Here is a list of his greatest achievements.

FLOATING THE AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR’s-biggest-achievements-The-Courier-Mail”/>
media_cameraPrime Minister-Elect Bob Hawke and incoming Treasurer Paul Keating at Parliament House in 1983 after the announcement of the Australian dollar. Picture: Graham Thomson

This was one of Bob Hawke’s first acts when he came to government in 1983 and often called his most significant decision.

Floating the Australian dollar meant it would no longer be pegged to other currencies like the British pound or the US dollar.

It was part of a broader deregulation push carried out by the Hawke government.

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media_cameraPrime Minister Bob Hawke at Parliament House with the first Medicare card in 1983.

In February 1984 Hawke announced Medicare. It was a new version of Gough Whitlam’s Medibank program which had been dismantled by Malcolm Fraser’s government.

It became Australia’s first affordable and universal health insurance system and is still going strong today.

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media_cameraBob Hawke speaks at the 20th anniversary of APEC which he established. Picture: Supplied

Hawke is credited with transforming the national economy into a global one.

He founded the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to promote growth in the region and helped open up Australia’s telecommunications industry to competition.

He overhauled taxes, cut tariffs, introduced enterprise bargaining and advocated for free agriculture trade.

Hawke also sold the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

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media_cameraPrime Minister Bob Hawke launching the book Apartheid in 1989. Picture: Alan Porritt

Hawke helped remake the Australia-US alliance, reviewing the ANZUS treaty and renegotiating Australia’s role in joint facilities, while making their function more transparent to the public.

He built a strong relationship with China and famously cried in parliament following the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1989.

Hawke also used Commonwealth allies to put pressure on South Africa to end apartheid. He convinced US and European banks to add financial sanctions to existing trade and brought in sporting bans, which were all important factors in Nelson Mandela being released from prison.

He also helped push for a peaceful end to the killing fields in Cambodia.

Hawke also helped end mining and oil drilling in Antarctica.

A less popular move was committing Australia to the first Gulf war.

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media_cameraPrime Minister Bob Hawke (L) with Senator Susan Ryan in 1986. Picture: Supplied

In 1984, Hawke’s government introduced the Sex Discrimination Act which stopped women being discriminated against based on marital status, being pregnant or potential to become pregnant.

He assigned Susan Ryan to a ministerial portfolio on the status of women and the pair brought in the Affirmative Action Act in 1986.

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media_cameraSoon-to-be Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke (left) with Bob Brown at a Mad Hatter’s tea party in Hobart during the Franklin Dam protest in 1983. Picture: Supplied

Hawke blocked the damming of Tasmania’s Franklin River when he came into office by passing the World Heritage Conservation Act, which enabled the Commonwealth to protect Australia’s World Heritage sites from threats. The battle went all the way to the High Court but Hawke won.

He also banned new uranium mining at Jabiluka in the Northern Territory.

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media_cameraBob Hawke poses in front of the Australian flag. Picture: Supplied

Hawke pushed the governor-general to ditch God Save the Queen in favour of Advance Australia Fair in 1984. It had been a long debate, which started under Gough Whitlam abd was put to a plebiscite in 1977.

He also decided that green and gold would officially become Australia’s national colours.


Hawke sculling beer

While not one of his policy achievements, Hawke’s world record of sculling a beer quicker than anyone is perhaps what many Australians remember most about him.

He downed the yard glass of beer (1.4 litres) in 11 seconds during his days at Oxford.

He carried on the tradition, often sculling a schooner of beer at the cricket each year. He also launched his own Australian beer company, Hawke’s Brewing Co.

Originally published as Bob Hawke’s biggest achievements

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